I did something about a year ago that I feel embarrassed about. I purged my Facebook account. That’s a crude, yet softer way of saying that I deleted friends. I’ve gone through periods where I loved Facebook, to times where I couldn’t stand it. It was exciting at first to search and find people I wanted to connect with, to send friend requests and receive notifications that they accepted. It was fun to see what they were up to and to hear their perspectives on life. But every now and then I’d receive a friend request from someone I didn’t know well, and I struggled with the decision of whether or not to accept their invitation. In the end, I usually accepted. Seeing a variety of posts in my news feed: those of close friends and family mixed with entries from people I barely knew started to get under my skin so I started hiding posts from my feed.
My frustration with Facebook reached a breaking point after the 2016 U.S. election. I thought of myself as an open person who valued different opinions, yet I couldn’t stand what I was reading in my feed. I also didn’t like pretending to be friends with people just because we went to school or worked together, or because they were neighbors or friends of my parents. I envied my friend, Jennifer, who had about 30 Facebook friends.
I made the rash decision to purge my account. The criteria I followed was to keep close friends and family members, as well as those who tried to maintain a relationship beyond Facebook; for example, if we also connected via email or saw each other in person every now and then. If, however, the person pissed me off with posts about God answering their prayers by electing Trump, if they hated Hillary, or spouted you’re-going-to-hell-unless-you-agree-with-my-religious-views type of posts, then, they had to go, regardless of how well we got along otherwise.
After the purge, I lost interest in Facebook. I got tired of coming home exhausted from work and feeling like I needed to read my feed. Tired of reading my feed while standing in line at the grocery store, sitting on the toilet, or walking to the car. Part of me wanted to delete my account, but I’m a marketer and need to use the platform for work. I decided to simply log in less. I also decided to read the news less. Now I feel a resurgence in my creativity. I have a desire to write more, to read books more, and to take more pictures.
Yet, as I write this post, I feel embarrassed about having removed people as friends. The truth is that I couldn’t hold the tension I felt inside. My fight/flight/fright response was triggered and I had to remove myself from what I perceived to be the perpetrator of those feelings. When I think about the power that Facebook has, that it can bring up these emotions and dilemmas for me, I get pissed off. But, I need to find peace because Facebook is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. I cannot let it or any other social media platform have that much power over me. So, that’s one of many things I get to work on now.