It’s time we took a break.
We’ve been together for over 12 years. Kind of hard to believe, right?
I remember when it was just you, me, “the wall,” a few silly pokes, and a couple friends sharing tidbits about our lives. It was innocent. You were trying to figure yourself out, and I was in my 20s trying to do the same.
But, my oh my, times have changed, haven’t they? And I’m not naive to think things would always be the same as they were in the beginning.
One thing I’ve learned about our relationship over the years is that you’re kind of demanding, Facebook. Actually, that’s not true. You’re extremely demanding. I know that won’t offend you because that’s who you are and who you’ve always been. And anyway, that worked for me in the beginning because I was young and trying to learn about myself and what mattered to me.
But you see, I’ve changed.
I didn’t realize it up until a few years ago, but I’m actually kind of introverted. Which is why I think I felt so comfortable being in a relationship with you and using you as a conduit to reach so many other interesting people. And you did a great job of that. You helped open up doors for my life (and business) that may have never existed. I really do appreciate and thank you for that.
But I’ve had one big realization about our relationship, and it’s probably due to my growing older and having more life experience: I don’t enjoy sharing every detail of my life with you anymore. I don’t like the way you make me feel like I have to scream for attention every time I have something to say.
You’ve probably noticed I’ve been acting differently. I’m not signed in to you on a daily basis. I don’t have your chat turned on, nor do I check your messages. I deleted your app from my phone a couple years ago. And recently, I installed a plugin on my browser that blocked your News Feed altogether. I’ve slowly been pulling away from you and limiting how much you can grasp my attention.
But there’s another thing. I feel like a better person when I’m not with you.
You see, we’ve taken a couple short breaks from each other over the past couple years. Four of them, in fact. If I reflect on those times apart, they’re the times when I’ve felt the most creative and most unencumbered to make things and experience the life I’ve tried to build for myself. Notice I didn’t say “share the life…”
Sharing my life with you has been a rollercoaster ride, Facebook. My biggest accomplishments receive praise and cheers from people all around the world. My failures, mistakes, and normal life experiences get swept under the timeline rug, leaving me feeling empty.
Without you, I wouldn’t know what dopamine was or how interacting with you gives my brain the same chemical response as doing cocaine*. To be honest, that fucking scares me, Facebook. And the worst part? Since 2005, you’ve done everything in your power to increase my dopamine responses while using you. You’ve introduced more ways to Like something, to peer in on others. And you’re so damn intelligent these days that I’ll catch myself sucked into viewing the cascading timeline of other people’s lives, not realizing how much time I’ve wasted scrolling through moments that you convinced other people to share. Before my first self-imposed social media detox, for example, I would scroll through your News Feed for hours and leave you open in a browser tab all day long. I could never stop being with you.
I used to really enjoy being with you and all my other friends in one place. There was a time when there were no agendas to being with you. It was fun to see where friends would travel to and reconnect with people I’d lost touch with over the years.
No one cared about the “right” time to drop a little update about their lives.
No one took 14 different versions of a photo just to try to find “the one” that would get the most Likes/shares/comments (dopamine responses).
No one was trying to milk every ounce of you to feel as good about themselves or their businesses as possible.
No one was sharing their opinions just to join in the cycle of everyone sharing their opinions.
I know that being on you is a game, Facebook—a game I could win if I wanted to. I could write posts with words of reflection and inspiration, accompanied by a share-worthy photo. I could jump on every intriguing world topic and weigh in with my thoughts, perspective, and wit. Heck, I could even outsource my use of you to someone more well-equipped to handle your demands.
But all those things things would keep me hooked on you. Hooked on you, Facebook, like a junkie hooked on a drug.
I’m one of the fortunate ones. I feel my deep emotional attachment to you and know we’ve been on a slippery slope together. An uncharted slope, without decades of research and studies to prove what I feel in my heart. Somehow, you’ve wooed 58% of the US population into hanging out with you every day, and I just don’t want to be one of your guinea pigs anymore.
You are the next great addiction, Facebook. And I want to quit you.
This is me, closing the door on our relationship. I’m not slamming it shut, locking it, and throwing away the key. I’m simple shutting the door gently and walking away. Maybe I’ll be back if I realize my life was better off with you in it. But I’m going to put this feeling of a necessary separation to the test.
I know you won’t miss me as I’m but one small twinkling star in your vast solar system of galaxies, planets, and much brighter stars. Tomorrow, you and everyone reading this will have moved on to some other moment in someone else’s timeline.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for me since 2005.