Why I Decided to Break Up with Facebook: A Yogic Perspective.

Via Marthe Weyandt
on Jan 18, 2013
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Facebook, I am deactivating you.

Sorry, but it was part of my New Year’s resolution: get rid of the clutter.

No longer will I bask in your warm, fuzzy codependent glow on cold January nights as the wind whips and howls outside my windows.

Like Gloria Gaynor says, I will survive.

Facebook, you should have a show. It would be called Friend Hoarders. There’s just too much stuff swirling out there in the ether. Instagrams of friends’ morning oatmeal. Pics of their remodeled bathroom updates. Boyfriend drama unfolding in excruciating detail. After half an hour hanging out, my consciousness feels as muddied as a lake after a heavy rainfall.

I am confused. What is my relationship to my 297 Facebook friends? Do we exchange words if we come across one another in IRL, like on the sidewalk or at the store? Does sending a Facebook message constitute ‘real’ communication? Would it stand up in court, like an e-mail or a text mail or a voice mail or a note quickly scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin? And, since when did people start calling their friends a ‘social circle’?

So, break up, you say? Surely there are other fish in the sea?

Yes, yes, yes. I get it. Here’s the kicker. People in my generation don’t spend time face-to-face anymore. With work, school, family commitments, chores, the gym, prime time television, surfing the internet—not to mention Farmville and Mafia Wars—who has the time? Or so we say.

Social communication differs across generations. In the 1990s, when I cam of age, flannel and coffee were in vogue, as was Seattle. We had face-to-face discussions, often over coffee, on topics ranging from politics and feelings. I marvel at people of my parents’ generation, who return telephone calls and text messages with frightening alacrity, often the same day. My grandparents wrote frequent letters to one another. My grandmother saved them all. Perhaps we value what is scarce.

A near-constant availability of others seems to decrease their intrinsic value.

I have seen good friendships go the way of the wall post and the occasional Facebook message. At the risk of sounding like an appalling narcissist, I don’t just wanna a few megabytes on a screen, one of a couple hundred or thousand friends. I would hope my friends feel  the same about me.

I cringe with terror when I see younger kids ‘talking’ with friends all day on a computer. You deserve more than this! I want to yell. You can’t hug a computer site. You can’t laugh with a computer. You can’t go out for a lunch or a dinner or a drink with a computer to catch up.

Recently, a Facebook friend passed away after a battle with cancer. Friends and acquaintances posted their condolences on his wall. It was a turning point. If he’s reading the Internet now in heaven, I hope he takes them in stride.

This is what I’ve decided.

Life is like a yoga class. Always, some people will be perceived as doing ‘better’ than others.

The moral of the story?

You’ve just gotta keep your gaze on your own mat, for sanity’s sake. Yes, it can be darn hard to do sometimes. The most advanced yogi may not be the one yakking it up about what a wonderful parent she is and how much she can get done and then flipping up into one-armed handstand to a crowd of awestruck onlookers. She is the one resting quietly on the floor in child’s pose mid-class, restoring his or her energy.

Status update: It’s not always about the ego, mister.

The same caveats apply to the social networking world. There is too much pressure to ‘create’ the perfect online profile or to be perceived in a certain way. We wish to put our best face forward, to scream from the cyber mountaintops the most intimate details of our lives. Perhaps we’re all just clamoring so hard for love and acceptance in a disconnected and fragmented world that we want validation from anybody and everybody, from our BFF to that guy we used to ride the bus with on Monday mornings.

And so we go on about our perfect guy or girl. Our recent business success. Our mind-blowing vacation to Tahiti. We casually toss in a few photos of ourselves into an online album, including the one in a bikini, doing Wheel Pose on the beach. (“Oh, is that me?”) We are buoyed by a resounding chorus of likes, and some comments we could, perhaps, do without. All of those ‘likes’ and comments have come to serve as real emotional currency, and that is kind of unsettling.

I need some space. At least for a while.

Everybody has a megaphone. Nobody has ears. It is like the scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where man sits behind a curtain, pulling levers and yelling into the microphone and making a terrible ruckus. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” he yells to the audience, when his identity is threatened. What does it take to pull the curtain away, to risk being who we are IRL? Does authenticity sometimes mean being vulnerable?

Yoga teaches us that self-discovery is like peeling an onion. We are constantly peeling away different layers to reveal the shining self underneath. To practice yoga, one must embrace vulnerability, try things that may be painful or unsettling. An asana practice releases tightness and congestion from the physical body. Eventually, blockages ease from the energetic and etherial bodies. If the need for human connection resides somewhere in the higher realms, then we must teach ourselves to view others as flesh and blood rather than a collection of electronic blips on a screen. We also allow them to pursue their own paths, but protect our own energy.

It is high time, I think, to risk Facebook exile. Maybe I’ll join a salsa-dancing club. Maybe a competitive tiddlywinks federation. Is there life outside of Verona walls? I’ll see.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Marthe Weyandt

Marthe Weyandt is a Pittsburgh-based yoga instructor and freelance writer. She enjoys traveling and spending time in the great outdoors. She is currently learning to play guitar, albeit badly and at frequencies only dogs can hear. She believes in the power of the word, creatively and lovingly rendered, to create positive change in the world. She has a Bachelor’s in English and Religion from Dickinson College and a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University. She spent two years as an English instructor with the United States Peace Corps in Madagascar. Check out some of her other work here.


19 Responses to “Why I Decided to Break Up with Facebook: A Yogic Perspective.”

  1. […] in our lives. They remind us to love, as we experience the pains and struggles of life. The connection of love is our proof we are alive; we are […]

  2. Dan says:

    It’s brave and unsettling to untether from our electronic routines as we redefine wholeness and levity. And it’s quite remarkable that each generation struggles–and eventually comes to terms–with identity in the face of constant change.

    May you (and we all) find peace in the continuing quest for stillness.

  3. slsimms says:

    I understand your sentiments…everytime I see the "like" button I'm tempted to click but I also got rid of my Facebook page. I got rid of mine in a state of pain but a week and a half later I'm not really rushing to head back to it.

    I think I'm ready to not be as accessible as I once was. Those who need me will find me :0) Thanks for the article.

  4. Miki Bowers says:

    Great insight into our approval addiction. We're so desperate that we'll take a simple mouse click on a 'like' button.

  5. I applaud you (and your well-written post)! I would love to eliminate all of my social media networks. But then I wouldn't have a job. Had I not started my social media networks because of my business (which more or less failed), I would not have this job. It takes a huge amount of self-discipline to avoid getting sucked into it all!

  6. em j says:

    I completely agree. If we approved of ourselves, would there need to be a "like" button?

  7. Jayleigh says:

    I have often wished people would go back to sending birthday cards through the mail rather than simply posting "Happy Birthday!" on someone's Facebook wall and being done with it. It's too easy–it doesn't mean enough. I'm guilty too. In fact I could just let Facebook keep track of everything important (birthdays, special events) and remind me when necessary–no need to actually care when you can look like you care and it comes out just the same! Ugh. Thanks for voicing this–I'm not ready to leave Facebook, but it would be good for me to look at just what I do get out of my use of it.

  8. Roggy says:

    Very timely for me. I'm not ready to leave Facebook either, but I do need to stand back and take stock. Thanks.

  9. MaryJane says:

    It's definitely a monster and what strikes me is that as it gets more and more sophisticated in it's data mining and sharing it becomes overwhelming and spooky to see your activity log going back to every click and comment and that this history exists somewhere and the email messages the whole thread is there forever. It's unsettling that this needs to be this way. Why do they need to keep a profile's history going back to the beginning. Not to mention when I was putting an old photo back as my profile a pop us asked me if I was sure since I had already used this particular photo as my profile. It friggin knows everything.

  10. Julian says:

    I wish i could kick it!, but then I’m reading this article via facebook

  11. Marthe Weyandt says:

    It has been over a week since the deactivation! It hasn't been easy! I've had an opportunity to think more about the role of social media in my life, to step back to a time when things seemed less complicated. FB has made relationships much 'easier' but less meaty or meaningful. I enjoy reading everybody's experiences very much. Please keep 'em coming 🙂 !

  12. Yonca says:

    I just deactivated my account a couple of days ago, so this article was a nice confirmation of my feelings and thoughts. Thanks Marthe!

  13. Jen M. says:

    Congratulations Marthe! I used to WORK in social media, before it was called that, so I deeply understand the benefits. However, I have refused, outwardly refused, to be on Facebook. Everyone thinks I'm crazy, because of my 17 years in the technology field, yet I hang tight. Facebook is killing our ability to communicate naturally … it's a leading cause of divorce, it's causing people to feel badly about themselves, increasing competition in an already overly competitive/image conscious society, it's wasting people's valuable time that they could be using for service instead of entertainment/self-indulgence, it's addictive, it's making it so that younger generations cannot get away from mass media (and all of the negative effects, too many to list here), people are giving up (willingly!) their private lives and personal information (including photos and info about this CHILDREN), teens are not aware of how their pages will effect their abilities later on to earn a living, and finally, it's risky from so many private/personal reasons 1 billion people are willingly ignoring. Call me crazy, but I'm not buying the cool-aid. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why others have been so easily swayed. What does this say about the mass mentality of our population? That scares me even more.

  14. nancey says:

    I broke up with FB a couple years ago (for the second time)! And then the smart phone went by the wayside last year. It didn't take long before I forgot all about them. You can do it! Good for you!

  15. Marthe Weyandt says:

    Thank you for all of your comments about Facebook 'break-ups'! Its great to know there are so many kindred spirits out there 🙂 I've been thinking a lot about the security aspect of putting so much of one's personal/ professional life online –it's something I didn't address enough in the article. It seems as if we're just scratching the surface of who can gain access to this stuff — the govt., potential employers, etc. Yet we feel as if we 'have' to have an online presence just to remain in the loop with friends or in our careers. This is some really crazy, science-fictiony stuff when you think about it.

  16. Jonathan says:

    As for myself, I am 34 and have never used Facebook. I am the first to admit that technology is provocative, especially as quietude and solitude are often emotional mirrors, ones that we humans have always wished to eradicate. But readjusting to life in a quiet room, disconnected from the world, can be really rewarding.

    The question is whether we are able to see the hidden value in all the little things — or whether we see the little things at all. On that note, one of my favourite pastimes is writing and receiving letters! I end my comments with an invitation. If you have the courage to delete your Facebook account, send me a letter and tell me about it. I will send you a letter in return.
    (Jonathan / Postbus 14671 / 1001 LD Amsterdam / Netherlands)!

  17. ricky ferdon says:

    yep, yep – I deactivated and then deleted Facebook and my Twitter accounts Christmas Day as a gift to my "self". have more time for, like, meditation and face to face with real people.

  18. Marthe Weyandt says:

    I am glad to hear so many people are trying out a life with a little less technology. It has been a few weeks without FB. I admit, I am feeling disconnected — especially during the cold winter, when people do not venture out as much. Am looking for some strategies to get past this. Jonathon, thank you for your address!