Years ago before I ever “set foot” on Facebook (before a hospital stay in Iceland in 2015 to be precise), I barely knew the landscape. At the behest and threats of beheading by various friends, I posted scenes from my travels, commented rather unenthusiastically on other people’s pictures of sushi, and was a vague and not particularly interested presence.
When I got stuck in a quiet Icelandic hotel room with a smashed pelvis, broken arm, broken wrist and my sixteenth concussion, I had no books. That’s usually where I find myself in my spare time, such as it is. Reading, not in hospitals. When I’m foolish enough to inflict near-death damage on my person, I deserve to get stuck in a room with nothing to do but suck at the toxic teat of social media.
Serves me right.
Let’s be clear right up front. I come from a long, proud line of addicts. My family has done their fair share, from cigarettes to alcohol to drugs. My choices were sugar, designer clothing and exercise. All have been costly, but in my family I am the last one standing. I shrugged off, not without immense effort, those seductions that I had allowed to set their hooks in me.
Like many others, I wasn’t prepared for the deeply addictive nature of the news feed, which invited me to keep scrolling past useless shit, take tests that gave away critical personal data and set me up for endless popups and harangues for pot brownies or lemon-scented underwear or high top sneakers with lights on them. I was researching for articles, not because I gave a crap about owning any. My mind went numb looking for something newsworthy, I kept clicking, I read junk that did no justice to my brain cells.
At some level I was fully cooperating with a system that is as insidious as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That 1978 movie gave me such a case of the creeps I couldn’t sleep for days afterwards for fear that my parents might have put an alien plant in my bedroom when they found out I kept stealing my mother’s supplies of pepitas for her bridge parties.
Frankly, this is no different.
Given a computer, a Facebook account (and/or Twitter, and/or Snapchat, and/or…well, you get the drift) we simply trade off our lives for that of automatons. As our country gets fucked over royally, we trip over hydrants, stop caring, stop loving each other and our children. We let computers replace foreplay, replace outdoor play, replace parenting, schooling and life in general. Facebook and its ilk slowly but surely- as insidiously as a plant pod replicates our bodies sans emotions as per the Invaders plot- replace what is valuable, unique and human in our lives. Our emotions, creativity, intelligence, our engagement, collective caring for one another, courtesy, respect, regard. Our ability to talk to each other.
I watched my own behavior as I struggled to cut off my Facebook habit. Like so many of us I would check it first thing after waking up. Constantly during the day. I lost hours on my iPad in the throne room (to the delight of the shareholders of Pfizer, the makers of Preparation H).
Then came that delightful little human experiment we had with excrement called the Presidential election. Suddenly even people I had known for decades, people I loved and admired, stooped to flinging shite at each other.
So did I.
Oh, that hurt.
So did I.
The magnificently well-designed-by-demons anger algorithm had the same effect on me as it did everyone else. I drank deeply from the depths of outrage like the rest of my brethren, and behaved repeatedly like a full-fledged jerk on line. It seeped into the deep soil of the rest of my life. It even infected what bloomed in my life.
I stumbled over my short fuse. Got angry over nothing. Was far quicker to judge. Found myself getting ridiculously pissed off over things that, prior to this Facebook IV in my veins, meant nothing.
Because all of it IS nothing.
Eventually, and largely because I forcefully redirected myself to writing on Medium.com and putting my time in developing worthwhile (Christ, I hope) articles people might enjoy, I began to tease out the deep roots of alien addiction.
My BF, who moved in last May, shut off his Facebook account months ago. It took him weeks, and Facebook (as it is wont to do, for it HATES it when we leave) pounded on him for weeks. So and so is doing this. You’re missing out on that. There’s news about so and so. You just have to drink the Koolaid again.
He didn’t give a shit.
We spoke about this recently. He reports that he is in a vastly better mood and frame of mind ( I can attest). He is lighter, happier, more cheerful. His emotions aren’t getting whacked around like a badminton shuttlecock about things he can’t control.
Like before he had a Facebook account.
A year ago this October, I conducted a detox. It was a very rough one, rather like withdrawing off heroine or opioids. I took myself off a raft of meds that the VA had me on for several decades. Solid research had identified that they were not only making me sicker, but they were slowly killing me off.
Done. It took me a month. It f*cking sucked. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone.
But at nearly a year later, with the symptoms gone, my head clear and feeling vastly better, it was worth it. Just as any detox from evil is. The only reason I wasn’t in much, much worse shape was that I worked out like a banshee and ate extremely well. However, those very meds were eating away at my brain, my body and my mental health.
No more. My research also indicates that I have added -barring a particularly pissed off horse or badly-packed parachute- years to my life. Good years. Happy, active, engaged, full years.
And that is precisely what I did with this mind-suck called Facebook. As I sat in Santa Fe having dinner, under another tab I began the process of removing my account. I tried no less than eight times. I Googled ways to do it. Tried them. They didn’t work. I had to enlist Geek Squad.
I find it fascinating that if you read the friendly pap on Facebook about how easy it is to delete your account, then go to the forums, you will find, as both the agent and I did, that others are having just as hard a time as I was. The same thing happens on my phone.
As far as I’m concerned, Facebook is a deadly tumor.
It’s coming out.
Facebook. Just an innocent little social media platform.
This is a company that does not want you to cancel the cancer.
Cancer is hard to cure. Facebook is a deadly tumor.
I do not need Facebook for my business. There are better platforms.
Deleting my account took four hours, working through both my phone and my computer, and help from the Geek Squad. On September 15th I’m done. In the meantime I will get bombarded with information about someone’s else’s sushi, someone else’s trip to Barbados, and a million million videos about animal abuse and child abuse and what humans are doing to each other that have ripped my heart to shreds. Come back inside. We miss you. Look at what you’re missing.
I’m not missing anything that I can’t live without.
I look forward to reclaimed hours. Time to think without having flashbacks of horrific videos of burning baby elephants or dogs with their paws cut off. I will take action on those things that I care about deeply, and over which I have immediate control. I look forward to not being bombarded with bombast and belligerent news of a Presidential moron who is killing off the country I love. I can vote. I can write. I can talk to my friends. I can pet and massage and love on the animals that I touch. THAT I can do.
Think you’re not a slave to social media? Think there’s not a cost? Think you’re in control? Think you can function for a whole day without checking your social media? Try it sometime. Try it for a week or two. Please. Give it a shot.
Ever tried to quit a five pack a day smoking habit? I have. This was harder.
I wonder, I just have to wonder, how many of us are alcoholics and opioid addicts in part because of social media? I don’t know. But I have to wonder.
All I know is that when I get those emails from Facebook imploring me to come back, I have one answer:
Just in case you might need a little additional motivation:https://medium.com/s/story/yes-you-should-delete-facebook-heres-why-bc623a3b4625.