In November or December (oh, that memory of mine), in order to reduce distractions and better focus on untangling my life, I quit Facebook. I deactivated it indefinitely. I log on for an hour or so every couple of weeks, mostly to satiate nostalgia and curiosity, then deactivate it again. I receive no notifications, no e-mails, no tags, no friend requests or strangers trying to follow me. I find Facebook uncomfortable; the longer I go without, the less I like using it. It’s an elevator in which everyone is laden head-to-foot with buttons and bracelets celebrating their favorite causes and they all have deathly gas. Horrid, roadkill gas. Inescapable and omnipresent: it pervades everything.
As soon as I log in I am bombarded with details of other people’s lives: deaths, births, joys, sorrows, and the inane all rolled into one endless train of updates. I don’t feel connected when I’m on there; I feel equal parts voyeur and exhibitionist. Yes, on rare occasions Facebook has reconnected me with old friends, but for the most part it feels like an emotional bog through which one cannot walk without accumulating a 50 pound layer of clinging mud.
What makes me feel connected is sharing: talking to people, sitting together over tea, or food, or booze and allowing all of our nonverbal exchanges to devour what words we may emit. Looking at someone and knowing that although they’re carrying on about their new haircut or shoes they’re really desperate to talk about how lonely they are, how their faults, their humanity, their mortality scare the shit out of them, how alive they feel when things change, are terrifying, and then end up ok.
I feel connected when I write letters to friends, when I receive letters from friends, when we take the time to put our thoughts on paper, in detail, then setting it loose to land in a friend’s lap.
The longer I go without the false sense of connection and familiarity Facebook offers, the more readily I sense my missing people and the more active I am in seeing them.
Is my opinion unique? Facebook seems to be as popular as ever, but I’m not one to actually research it.