I'm Breaking Up with Facebook

“It’s not you.  It’s me.”

Over the past few weeks I’ve come close to impulsively deactivating my Facebook account. Part of it is all the uproar over their elusive privacy policies. As a self-proclaimed geek, I don’t have any trouble tweaking my settings, but people like my parents will never be able to keep up with privacy changes to their account. It seems that Facebook is taking advantage of that for advertising dollars. But most of my problem with Facebook is really that it’s not a good fit for me.

I’ve gradually reduced my visits to Facebook, and instead of checking in a few times a week, I’m down to a couple times a month. So closing my account is really not that big of a deal. For a while now, all of my status updates have been coming in from Twitter (a much simpler social media tool) where I maintain tons of control over what comes across my feed. But the idea of closing this account brought a few issues to mind for me that I want to continue to examine more closely.

First, I simply can’t keep up with the flood of updates, friend requests, birthdays, old “friends” who come out of the woodwork to find me, and the incessant layout changes. Visiting Facebook only adds to the mental clutter that I am constantly trying to eliminate. Does anyone really know how something ends up in the “Top News” vs. the “Most Recent” feeds? And does it matter? Why am I adding to an already overloaded mental whiteboard with this kind of thing?

Second, I believe Facebook is contributing to a redefinition of “friendship” that dilutes it, causing us to truly connect less. I have 231 “Friends”, many of whom I haven’t spoken to in years, and didn’t really talk to very much then. It’s not that I dislike these people, but I don’t have time to stay in touch, even through an easy medium like Facebook. And as an introvert, there is something psychologically draining about knowing that at any given moment all 231 of these people could easily get in contact with me for a surface conversation about “how things are going.”

Third, I’m seeing this as part of an ongoing effort to simplify my life. Closing my Facebook account fits in with the other things I’ve done lately to simplify:

  • Taking walks in the evening.
  • Doing yardwork and enjoying it.
  • Unsubscribing from an absurd number of email marketing efforts.
  • Selling or giving away things we don’t use.
  • Resisting the pressure to fill our new house with furniture we don’t really need.
  • Staying out of consumer debt.
  • Watching less television.

Seeking simplicity is my biggest reason for closing my Facebook account.  I have always had a knack for managing a certain level of chaos. Perhaps that has to do with my upbringing, where my family structure drastically changed every few years starting with my parent’s divorce when I was seven. Or maybe I’m just built for more adaptability than others. However, I have more recently seen the limits of my ability to thrive in chaos.

Thanks to the new found responsibility of helping raise a post-newborn pre-toddler (baby adolescence is such an awkward time), I have had to be more diligent to ask myself the question of what is important and how much can I effectively manage. The answer to that question is different for everyone, but I don’t want to wake up in 20 years still trying to figure out how to simplify life and find a focused direction. Tomorrow’s opportunities are built upon the ones seized today, so waiting around for the clutter and chaos to resolve itself will only result in more of the same.

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~ Albert Einstein

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