It might be a little weird that I quit Facebook tonight instead of, say, back in September when classes started. That’s the way it is with most addictions: We recognize the problem and think on it for months before we act on it. Though some people do act faster, most of us weigh our options for a while, trying to rationalize our behavior.
For me, being on Facebook was all about keeping in touch with my friends and family. I have no immediate family east of the Mississippi (except for my wife, of course). Many of them are on Facebook, and it’s good to see what they’re up to. The messaging system allows me to talk to them when I need to. I also enjoyed watching their children grow up through their pictures.
The downside to all this is that a lot of the drama from my friends started to come through in the news feed. As they share their happiness and good times, they share their sadness and bad times. And by “share” I really do mean share. When you care for people, you can’t help but empathize with them. (Unless you’re a functioning sociopath, of course.) If they lose a loved-one, I feel their grief. If they end a long-term relationship, I feel their loss. But then there are those who take something very small and inflate it as some kind of life-altering event. They tend to be the younger ones in the bunch, but some of the older ones do it as well. In many cases, I want to comment on those things with “#FirstWorldProblems.” I mean, seriously, running out of laundry detergent in the middle of the day is not something worth so much drama.
Then there are the people from my past. When I left Texas for Pennsylvania, I left behind some really good friends. Over time, as we shared less and less of our experiences, that friendship eroded. Though we got in contact with each other again on Facebook, the friendship was just not that strong. To make matters even worse, a few of my exes (from Texas and otherwise) found me on Facebook and wanted to be friends. As comedian Greg Proops once put it, we break up with people for a reason. We don’t break up because we really just want to be friends. So I tried being an adult and friending them on Facebook, but I quickly realized it was a mistake… And into the unfriended bucket they went.
Don’t worry, I told my wife all about these situations.
In short, I have grown tired of so much drama, so much distracting stuff getting into my line of sight and distracting me. Distraction is good for a little bit, so that you don’t go crazy with everyday things. But the phone app, ipad app, and access to Facebook on the computer made it more than a distraction. It had to stop.
Will I return to Facebook? Sure, but it will be a while. Classes are over for a month, and I want to focus on further refining my thesis project idea. There’s a lot of work that needs to go in it before I propose it to the authorities at the school. I intend to do that work without distraction over the next month or so. When I do return to Facebook, it will be without a phone or iPad app. I don’t need up-to-the-minute updates of other people’s drama… And I don’t need to update them immediately of mine.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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