There are many times throughout one’s life when the person needs to reassess, reevaluate a particular segment of their life and consider its value verses its detriment. This can often result in a dichotomy which leaves the person conflicted and unsure. I am having one of these moments. And that segment is Facebook.
I have been on Facebook for many years now…not too long after it started being available to the open public. I have found it to be remarkable when considering how many people in my life whom I was able to be reintroduced after long, long periods of time. I think it is an outstanding tool in organizing events, finding people with similar interests and keeping up on the latest news. It is a great way to share what you feel is important to the world. And it can be simply a fun release at the end of a long day. But it has turned into more than just that.
More often lately I am finding myself walking away from Facebook in a worse mood from when I logged on. The hermit in me is so frequently reminded that people can be extraordinarily petty, rude, mean and argumentative. I so often witness that the internet – anonymous or not – can be a hot bed of hostility. Almost as often as you find someone who shares similar views and interests – you find just as many who are willing to tear down your views, interests and you as a person. It is a tough world out there and I have a feeling kids will be far beyond prepared for that once they enter the “real world” now that they have Facebook as a stepping stone.
Recently an old friend of mine emailed me privately and, as kindly as possible, asked why I had so many mean friends. She wondered why I have so many people on my FB who talked to me like shit. I guess I didn’t really have a good answer. After you are on Facebook for a while, friends come and go. Some you know from 30 years ago…some whom are a friend of a friend. Some may be the people you work with at your new job…hell, you can even friend your favorite band. I still haven’t figured out how to delete all the stupid groups, pages and events I have “liked” over the years either intentionally or otherwise…they still sit there like a pile of trash on my Facebook porch. Sometimes you remember why you stopped hanging out with a certain person or why you got into that fight in 7th grade. Sometimes you are shocked to find the guy who tried to devirginize you at 14 is now a Bible thumping tight ass. You may find your best old friend from the Grateful Dead concerts is now a Tea Party member. It’s crazy, man.
Anyway, so…this becomes my realization – that Facebook is causing annoyance, irritation, anxiety, frustration…how does that balance with the comradery, keeping up with current information/news, staying in touch with those otherwise far away, watching hilarious videos posted by your “friends” and all the other warm fuzzies which may appear once in a blue moon. (Wow, that was a long ass sentence. Sorry.)
Now that I am writing for Patch I like to have the venue of Facebook to share my writing – same with my blogs. I can also find material easier, answers quicker and many story ideas. And I really like being able to share info which I am privy to with others. I am also friends with a lot of political people who are excellent with keeping their “friends” informed. This all helps me as a writer. But the crabbiness after a disagreement, the sadness when a “friend” treats me poorly or the frustration stemming from the hateful words of others – friends and strangers…I am not sure it is worth all that.
So, what do you do. Deactivate, right? I could leave Facebook all together. I am sure I would eventually get over the withdraw symptoms with some Advil, soup, a garbage can and a wet towel. I could start all over and chose my “friends”, groups, pages, etc. more wisely. But then I would have to kinda hide from those I chose now not to be friends with. I would have to be secretive and if you know me…that isn’t how I live my life. I could keep the account specifically and exclusively for sharing and receiving information. This is the best choice…but probably the most difficult to stick to. It would be just too easy to post a question or ask advice or share some good news…it would still be so accessible. Not sure if abstaining would be possible.
I know I cannot be the only one with these feelings. I am sure there are plenty of people who are not NEARLY as sensitive as I am and are able to see and use Facebook as simply a means for entertainment…people who can walk away with no emotional residue whatsoever. I really envy those kinds of people. But I am not one. Toxicity sticks to me like last night’s garlic. So, I am not really sure what I am going to do. But it seems more and more clear what I SHOULD do.