Sayonara, Facebook

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Facebook is troublesome. It is the Jekyll and Hyde of online life. Some days I find it a delightful inspiration. Other days, I want to poke myself in the eyes after scrolling through my timeline.

I know I am not alone in experiencing FB as a source of jealousy, anger and frustration. When I see the glamorous, glittery lives of near strangers who appear on my timeline, I feel completely inadequate and full of judgement. That isn't how I want to feel. The self proclaimed goddesses and fairies generally raise my hackles. The people who constantly wave their political views and good causes like flags (I admit to doing this myself; I am not above being awful) make me ignore them and their causes. Worst of all, the people who are doing what I do but getting more positive attention from people whose circles I want to be part of, fill me with self loathing. And I hate them, too. This is definitely not acceptable.

On the positive side, FB connects me to the international and local communities who share my interests. The hooping community used to exist in discussion forums but has largely migrated to Facebook. Also, I am always delighted to see the cool things my sister is doing. Sometimes people who I know in real life post links to interesting articles. I have gotten work, attended events, and learned things thank to Facebook. So it isn't all bad.

Except it's training me to do things I don't like and need to change.

Five Ways Facebook Trained Me

  1. Facebook taught me to communicate in abbreviated form. I'm skilled in writing succinct and clear status updates because more than 140 characters is a burden to my friends, isn't it? I craft a mean caption. I create cute graphics and memes (that go nowhere, see point 3). I haven't posted on mediatinker in a long time because when I think I have something worth writing about, I start and get stuck after a paragraph or two. I can't put together a long thought. I used to write lots, share ideas and recipes and patterns here. Now mediatinker languishes, though not for much longer. I am reclaiming my ability to write in long form. Those dozen unpublished drafts in the system? Maybe you'll be reading them soon.
  2. Facebook showed me how to put my ego in charge. I crave instant gratification and I love numbers, so FB didn't have a lot of work to do on this point. For example, I post a selfie snapped at an artful angle so my hair is in focus and my eyes stare up at you. I get a Like, then another, then there are a dozen. Someone I sort of remember from high school comments that I look great. A hooping friend says I should wear my hair like that more often. More likes. Oh, So-and-so liked this; I haven't looked at her page in a while. I click Like on her cat photos, thereby paying back her like of my photo and acknowledging that I am Paying Attention to her. But back to me! By now, wow, 52 people liked my photo and I have 4 comments. I should post more. It's a wicked cycle. My ego loves it. Then when I post a status update that only 2 people like...ouch.
  3. Facebook trained me to overshare. Modern culture is full of pseudo-celebrities with a group of adoring fans. So why not me, too? And why not you? The expectation is that everyone deserves a trophy and their 15 minutes. I truly want to be recognised and well-regarded amongst my peers. This desire has always driven me in my work. Facebook's easily shareable things allow me (or my idea, cause, event, photo) to become Internet famous for a moment or two. And one never knows what is going to be popular, so I'd better share everything. While I'm are at it, why not make some special things: videos of the event I held, cute graphics with clever sayings on them, holiday greetings that can be passed around to and by my friends.  Ironically, all this sharing and oversharing creates nothing but obscurity. The more I post, the more you post, the more our friends post and who has time to sift through all of that looking for something worthwhile? Who remembers it was me? Oh, you were the guy who posted that kitten and hedgehog video? Sweeet. I'm the one with the hoops, please Like my page.
  4. Facebook coached me not to talk about what I am doing. I promote my events on Facebook. I share my projects there. When I am having a conversation with someone, I don't need to tell them about an upcoming hoop jam or workshop because of course they already saw it on Facebook (though thanks to point 3, they probably didn't). The introvert in me thinks this is terrific. No self promotion! But it means that my events don't always reach a critical mass; they aren't getting to the right people; they aren't anticipated. Did you know I'm teaching at two flow events later this year? Oh, you must have missed that status update...
  5. Facebook taught me who my friends are. This point is a positive one. If I eat a meal with you more than twice a year, I probably like you lots and you are a real friend. You get a reprieve on the once a year thing if you live on another continent and we have a history of meals together. Other people in my "friends" list on Facebook are probably acquaintances, colleagues, or people from my past. They are good to know and touch base with, but they aren't actually friends right now and I don't need to see their activities all the time. Let me focus on the people in my real life circles.
Saying Sayonara to Facebook

Because I use FB for events and connections in my hooping life, I am not going to drop off altogether. But I can address the points above with some actions. The obvious thing is to reduce my time on Facebook as much as possible. I already deleted Facebook apps from my mobile devices. I will reach FB only from my computer. So no more checking in while I am on a train, waiting for someone, or lying in bed.

I will make a concerted effort to release my need for instant gratification. This is going to be the hardest part. It means caring less about the views and likes. Talking directly to people about my work and projects to build enthusiasm and having a vaguer sense of who is interested to what I am doing. Telling my ego to STFU. 

I will stop oversharing personal stuff. No more selfies, dinner pictures, rants about the weather, or happy notes about ukuleles. I will also stop liking your posts. It doesn't mean I stop liking you, of course. I might not even read what anyone's got up on FB.

I will tell you what I am doing lately. You'll hear about my projects when we meet. I will still have event info on FB and Twitter and the Spin Matsuri site, but I am going to assume you never see them.

I will reach you by e-mail, not Facebook PM/chat. If I don't have your e-mail address, please send it to me. I might call you if I have your phone numer.

I will write more here. I have things to say; they will appear here fully fleshed out in a length more than two sentences  You can subscribe, or whatever you do with blogs these days. Put me in your Flipbook. I will post videos to YouTube and photos to Flickr, not to Facebook.

I will invite you to dinner or somehow make more of an effort to see you in real life. If I want to keep having social connections, I need to make sure my friendships are not only virtual ones.


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