I have enjoyed Facebook since 2008, and have been able to reconnect with a few good friends because of it. I once considered myself a fan.
It sounds silly, caring about a social network, someone’s company…but the fact is, it’s become a basic part of millions of lives, as basic as, say, cars and bikes…but I’m not a fan anymore. I have come to view Facebook as an insidious addition to my daily existence, one that has been sucking my lifeblood, drop by precious drop.
The following is a list of 10 reasons why I deleted my Facebook account:
#1 Facebook’s new layout sucks.
I’m glad it’s coming around, though, otherwise I might still be on Facebook. I find the timeline unnecessarily complicated; there is way too much going on at once. I prefer a simple interface. Perhaps, over time, my brain might get used to what I perceive now to be an intrusion, but I find the new layout so distastefully image-centered that I refuse to find out. It’s like watching a commercial of myself. In addition, the idea of delving into the past makes me uncomfortable. Let the past die, I say. There is simply no need to revisit things I said or did last year. Last year was not a good year. Likewise, I’m not interested in what my friends did or said in the past. I’m interested in now.
#2 I don’t want to hear about someone’s illness or death via Facebook.
Jeez, I don’t want to find out via Facebook that one of my friends is seriously ill or has died. And I sure as hell don’t want to read the condolences that people will inevitably write on his wall after the fact. I don’t mean to offend people who have done this, or who have taken comfort from doing this, but it’s not for me. I find the whole business bizarre and unsettling. If I died unexpectedly, I would find it ridiculous that people were writing on my Facebook wall. The whole Facebook and death thing is only going to get worse and weirder the more friends I amass.
#3 There is a dearth of insightful interaction on Facebook.
As a once avid Facebook user, I tried to foster meaningful discussions about political or interpersonal topics. These discussions were fun at times, like cocktail party chatter is fun, but they rarely gave me any insight into anything. I longed for these people to be in a room with me with hands waving and passions flaring where they could really let loose. But I kept imagining this nebulous periphery of casual aquaintances sitting in silent judgment of our musings and pontifications, and that freaked me out.
I was continually striving to make Facebook deeper than it was, and I think, fundamentally, that was the roadblock I couldn’t circumnavigate. Even though I delighted in crafting clever status updates and witty retorts, these were not deeply satisfying activities. I found myself craving more profound and actual interactions with my friends, ideas, art, and the like.
For example, I recently visited the Art Institute of Chicago, where I had an amazing time staring at its impressive Monet collection. The effort itself brought me a new kind of pleasure, a subtle and penetrating pleasure. I realized that to see the paintings truly, I had to look at them for a long time and from a distance. I stared at them for almost an hour, and in the process, they became alive and magical to me. There is so much to see within one single painting. And I have since realized that the pleasures that Facebook proffers pale in comparison…wait, what?! Facebook pales in comparison to Monet? I know, it may seem like an obvious and trite observation, but it’s the simplest things that we tend to miss in our hurry to update our Facebook statuses. To me, this type of attentive interaction is the essence of yoga. Yoga is the ability to maintain an unbroken and profound union with life, with the universe, and with our deepest selves. Facebook can never give me the type of connection I long for with anyone or anything, let alone my deepest Self.
#4 I have ingested too many meaningless things on Facebook.
We are each responsible for what we let through our doors of perception. I no longer want to be careless about the things I allow past that threshold, and there is a glut of useless crap on Facebook. These stupid things get stuck in my brain all the time, and enough is enough. I don’t want to see your Crossfit motivational poster one more time or hear about your kid’s dumb social studies project or read about your crappy lunch. I simply don’t want to let everything in anymore. Even the good stuff on Facebook is not good enough. For instance, I have a friend who regularly posts about Rumi. It’s great. I’d much rather come across her posts than bad photos of someone’s Disney Land vacation or updates about dropped off kids. Nevertheless, even better than reading excerpts from Rumi, is taking my own book of Rumi poems off the shelf and reading one entire poem well. That is the deeper experience, and the one I would like to choose more consistently.
#5 Political action on Facebook is useless.
One of the reasons I enjoyed Facebook was the exchange of political articles and ideas. Initially—naively—I thought I could help affect political change via Facebook, but simply clicking and typing is a waste of time unless there is concrete human action behind it such as a phone call, a letter, or a protest attendance. Furthermore, political passions get watered down on Facebook by snarky, cutesy posts. These posts are cute and often funny, but they don’t do anything to foster actual change. There is no shortcut to live political action. None of my posts or well-intentioned political discourse achieved anything significant.
#6 Facebook offers even more distraction for my distraction-prone mind.
In this age of distractions, I scarcely need another one. Facebook consistently broke my concentration, and I began to resent it. I realized when it was happening, but I simply did not have the discipline to keep myself off it until my work was done. I found myself unconsciously logging on to Facebook throughout the day. That’s how addiction operates. Somehow you end up with that drink in your hand or the pipe in your mouth.
#7 With Facebook, there is less time to manifest my heart’s sincere desires.
There are many things I want to accomplish before I die; some of these I haven’t even discovered yet. And the more time I spend on Facebook, the less time I have to do them. That is a very simple fact. It’s not like these things have to be monumental accomplishments. They could be as simple as writing an essay, taking a class, reading a book, or cooking a dish I’ve always wanted to try. Nothing I do on Facebook could ever be as fulfilling as what I can do in real life.
#8 I don’t need to keep in touch with every person I know via Facebook.
If I see someone’s photos or status updates, it makes me think I know what’s going on with that person, and it quells my desire for deeper communication. However, if I have not heard anything from someone I care about in a long time, I might be more prone to write her an email or perhaps even a handwritten letter. Keeping in touch with people should be an organic process and not like amassing matchbooks from restaurants. Some people are meant to be in our lives only for a short time, while others stick around longer. Either way, we’re all going to kick the bucket and lose touch eventually.
#9 Facebook was making my ego bigger.
I am not an ego-vilifier. I believe the ego has a value, to a certain degree. It’s an excellent and necessary tool. Nevertheless, I’m striving to see myself as more than my body and my “likes.” The more I stay on Facebook, the more I see myself as only “Sunita Pillay.” I have gotten disturbingly attached to my opinions and photos of myself, but this preoccupation with image is bullshit. I want to work on expanding the radius of my Self—capital ‘S’ intended—beyond my ego.
#10 Mystery is a beautiful thing.
Once upon a time I liked to imagine what the people I used to know were currently doing, but Facebook has revealed that mystery to me, and I have to say, my imaginings were in many ways more entertaining. Likewise, I don’t want my life and musings to be a click away anymore. I’d much rather be a wonder away. As in, “I wonder what ever happened to Sunita…”