July 20, 2014
Two Months off Facebook

On May 18, I posted to Facebook that I had just finished a two week hiatus, and would be spending more time away. Its now been two months instead of just one, and Ive come to some conclusions that Id like to share.

So, whyd you do it?

Facebook is a highlight reel of life. Its really easy to look at ones feed and feel like everyone is out there living a wonderful, enchanted life full of fun, parties, babies, and happiness. If that is juxtaposed against someones life that may not be so great, it adds for a pretty damn depressing time. I was going through that, and I needed to change it. Admittedly, Ive had a hard time dealing with the loss of my Grandmother two years ago, and its taken a fair amount of time to really deal with that. The absence of her being gone tied combined with seeing other peoples highlight reel just made for a bad combination. As such, I needed to get away.

I think its important to point out, though, that highlight reels are just that, and while Sunday morning may be loaded with pictures of a wonderful Saturday night, thats not reality. Everybody goes through hard times, and many dont share that on Facebook. I know that I am much more open when happy, and close off when Im not. No one should judge the state of their life against others, as we are all on our own paths, and that goes double for the lives others choose to put on Facebook.

And what did you learn?

Staying completely off Facebook is unrealistic. Too many of the people I want to stay in touch with use Facebook as a communications medium. While abstaining from the website and mobile app, I did install Messenger on my iPhone to respond to a few messages that popped up over the last few weeks. But I found that people were regularly mentioning things on Facebook, and I felt disconnected from people I previously felt connected to. While I tried to augment that feeling with texts or calls, there are some folks that orbit in a ring where I want to know what theyre doing, I want them to know what Im doing, but we dont necessarily do the phone thing. Maybe that doesnt make them friends in that sense, but there was a lonely feeling that I want gone.

Great. Now what?

Now I return. I am going to scan through my friends list and prune it down. My goal is to get the list down to those people I felt I missed, and not others. I wont be playing around with muting people either they stay or go. I guess I should pre-apologize here, but as of this writing I havent started manipulating, so I cant say who has made the cut.

I am not going to immediately reinstall Facebook on my phone. I will start using the web interface, but I dont need Facebook available at a moments notice, filling my downtimes with highlight reels. Messenger will stay on the phone, though, as that is still a de facto communication channel these days.

Overall, I will post less. That had been the trend I was on anyway, so it should be easy. I will also do more to share the bad and the good. For me, that will be cathartic, but it also falls in line with the idea of only keeping around the people I actually want to share my life with. And, if it encourages others to do so as well, great. Facebook would be a better, more realistic place if it wasnt just the good. Like the song goes, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.

Anything else?

Sure! I still dont care for how pervasive Facebook is in the world. I get that they want to be the next AOL, but thats bad for the Internet. When you use Facebook to log in to other websites, they start to build a persona of you and where you go on the Internet. This often comes with them also getting access to pieces of your data. Individually thats not terrible, but with the power to coalesce this data, they become large and dangerous. Some people think Facebook is now too big to go away, but they also said that about MySpace, and Pan Am Airlines, and a dozen other major players in a dozen industries. Who knows where the next big movement will come from? The nice thing about the Internet is that its the great, big equalizer. Content created from the largest companies can be indistinguishable from that of a teenager in her parents basement. This is a double-edged sword, but its a powerful one.

Overall, Im glad I did this. Being a digital worker, I spend most of my life online, and Im proud of myself for being able to so completely disconnect from something that was such a big part of my life and had such an unexpected impact on it. Like the saying goes, everything in moderation. Ive now swung to both sides of Facebook, and will find a place in the middle that suits me.

Until the next thing comes along, anyway.


May 30, 2014
Why Do I Code?