Why I Finally Quit Facebook

Lots of people complain about Facebook sucking away time and productivity, but that wasn’t my issue. I simply didn’t like most of the company.

I knew I needed to delete my Facebook account. It was only a matter of time.

Something similar happened in the early ’90s. I needed to give up something pretty huge, because it felt unhealthy and went against my values, and that decision would set me apart from my closest family and friends. I put it off as long as I could, but in the end, I knew it was inevitable.

I would stop eating meat and become a vegetarian.

College science classes and several books suggested the planet and individual health would improve with more meat-free diets. Social groups on campus championed the idea that animals weren’t here for our consumption. Then one night in 1992 I tried some ‘shrooms, had an out-of-body experience, and have been a vegetarian ever since.

Almost everyone knows at least a dozen vegetarians. It’s not really a thing anymore. We can get veggie burgers, meat-free substitutes, and salads everywhere except South Dakota. But back in 1992, I took a huge leap and people thought I was nuts.

That’s why these last few weeks felt familiar.

Everyone I know is on Facebook. My husband Marc quit for a few years, and talked about getting out again, but everyone else posts their lives on there, every day, and I liked being connected with a few of them.

Just a few.

Lots of people complain about Facebook sucking away time and productivity, but that wasn’t my issue. I simply didn’t like most of the company.

That woman who treats her husband like shit and then posts pictures referring to him as the love of her life? That guy who lists Boston as his hometown, but really resides in Duluth?

Yeah. That.

Moms and dads who live vicariously through their children, posting every award and accomplishment? Those are your children’s achievements, not yours. I don’t like spending a Saturday at the ballpark with you people, much less a Facebook group.

The cousin who posts racist rants, but he saved your life that one summer you almost drowned? Delete him, but not his kids or siblings. That’ll go over well at the next reunion.

Misinterpreting comments that come with no tone of voice or context? That’s always fun. Adults should be wise enough to discern between authentic and sarcastic, but it rarely happens and nasty retorts can’t always be deleted.

I once saw a father positioning his children on a park bench to take their picture. It seemed like the day had been long and hot and everyone was over it. Those kids didn’t want to pose. Dad yelled about his high blood pressure, screaming for them to smile, and at one point threatened to “smack them.” They finally smiled and he said, “Thank you! Now let me post this picture and get you guys home so I can drink.”

When we scroll through our newsfeed, we don’t see the behind-the-scenes drama. We see the highlight reel. You probably don’t know many of the people you’re connected to, and the ones you do know are sometimes making shit up. When I’m on there more than five minutes, I feel dirtier than after watching the entire last season of “House of Cards.”

That’s plenty dirty.

No judgments, I simply feel bad for too many people trying so hard to impress and no one really paying attention to anything beyond their own story in the first place.

What about when relationships end? It hurts to see them interacting with others. I don’t know how younger folks can even date anymore; are we really meant to stay intimately connected with everyone we’ve ever known?

Life is rough enough. I don’t need to impress anyone. Not with my work or achievements, not with my kids’ good deeds, not anything. Never have. It just took me a while to remember that.

As a writer, I look for platforms in which to present my work. I posted columns and articles several times a week, but even that wasn’t working. Facebook now requires payment in order to “boost posts.” I tried once or twice, but didn’t gain many readers.

Writing for multiple blogs and websites is more effective. One or two “likes” on Facebook just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Combine all this with hate mail, snarky comments, and the increasing realization that we’re not really connected if we don’t CONNECT and yeah, I realized I had to get the hell out of there.

So I did. Downloaded pictures and videos, for safekeeping, then deleted my account. Other social media platforms are probably next. Don’t worry, I have emails and phone numbers for the two people I like…we’ll stay in touch.

Many say they get it, and they’re ready to leave Facebook behind as well. Just not right away. Others say I’ll be back before the year is out.

Maybe, maybe not. But I haven’t had a burger since 1992.

Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for political purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs some races and looks for missing socks. Follow her on twitter: @cdurkinrobinson.

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