I No Longer Need Everyone to “Like” Me

Today is very close to the 8-month-iversary since I left Facebook. I celebrate the day my account was deleted forever (and there was no mistake about how forever; the website’s solemn reminders of the seriousness of my decision to leave must surely rival any language found in a kidney donation contract) in December of last year.

Funny thing about Facebook: they are not willing to let you go without a Hotel California-esque fight. You can check out anytime you like, but can you ever really leave? After you Google how to delete your account (it’s not a one-step process to ensure you don’t hit a button in a vodka-fueled haste), you are reminded how much more appealing – and less permanent – it is to deactivate your account than to take the irreversible action of deleting it. If you are convinced you can commit to a lifetime free of electronic likes and news overkill, there is one last, paternalistic feature that ensures that you have three weeks to wake the f*#k up and just log in as soon as you’ve realized your ginormous error.

I was determined. I was ready to banish permanently my ball of Facebook-induced anxiety, sadness, and lost faith in humanity. Mentally scarred from reading racist comments on news pages and seeing pictures of hundreds of animals that need adopting, I had forgotten that Facebook was supposed to be a fun way to connect with friends. What happened to a good old poke or two? When did people start reacting to well-articulated essays with jeers and “lol”s? When did every cause for animals, people, and the environment become such constant presences that no matter how sun-soaked and family-filled your day, you would be dragged into a world of drowning migrants and dying bees? When did Facebook become a grim chore to be endured? If there is a balance to be found between wishing to stay aware and wishing to remain sane, I never found it on Facebook. Add to my personal angst the corporation’s horrific ethical indiscretions and its CEO’s sickeningly bloated net worth, and I was finally, officially out.

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The condescending last-chance period ended Christmas Day. I remember because I flattened onto my fainting couch that fair yule wondering how I might let acquintances and remote family know how tasty and spicy the glory bowl I just had was and how I couldn’t stop eating candy canes from the smartly-trimmed tree. If you are one of my acquaintances or remote family members, you might not know those important details about Christmas ’17, and I know you will have felt that loss as keenly as I did when I was not able to hear how your cranberry sauce turned out and how lucky you felt to bicker with those you love for several days.

I made it through the merry season, the new year, and beyond, but the severance was bittersweet. Sure, happier me knew I had done the right thing, but they really weren’t kidding that the account deletion is permanent. No peeking, no backsies; I was officially out of the community. The likes I craved were no more, the cheerful status updates gone, my e-soapbox dismantled. How I loved Facebook. And how I despised it.

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I still feel a pang of FOMO when I hear of an adorable puppy video being shared over FB chat, and I am incredibly out of the activist loop since I don’t even know anymore how to find out about local events,  BUT…my blood pressure has decreased, my hair remains in my scalp longer, and these days if my eyes are red from staring unblinkingly at the computer, it’s because I’ve been working on my thesis [playing spades]. Sometimes I even read paper things! Now, when people tell me to look up a Facebook page, I tell them with a hint of pathetic pride, “I’m not on Facebook.” And it makes me happy.

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