Antisocial Media

Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

I’m going on a journey today.

The long journey of figuring out how to deactivate my facebook account.

I’m not here to rant about how facebook is destroying the world. Instead, I harbor a small hope that my self-exploration can help others consider their own relationship with social media.

I don’t like how I feel when I’m here

  1. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I have for years. I go to therapy weekly, and it helps. Opening my feed and seeing a litany of reasons why the world is ending today does NOT help. I never log off of facebook feeling better than before I signed on. I usually end up pissed off, disillusioned, and anxious.
  1. I have a growing list of people who I used to hold in high regard. People who, when I interact with them in real life, act intelligent, compassionate, and principled. Too many have shown me otherwise as they put their ignorant beliefs on blast, heedless of logic and reason. Most of these people are folks I would rarely interact with outside of social media. I prefer to live in a world where I don’t know the innermost thoughts of every acquaintance I have. (Full disclosure, I am sure I am on a similar list for many as well.)
  1. I can feel myself radicalizing. The more I see people cheering on the collapsing systems of this world, the more I grow to hate those systems (and honestly, sometimes, those people). I am led to genuinely question if those thoughts and feelings are fully my own or if they are reactions to an algorithm designed to elicit site engagement.

There is no spoon

  1. None of this is real. The person I am on facebook is not who I am in real life. I unintentionally oscillate between two personas: a man with the perfect life and family trying to make you jealous and, on the other end of the spectrum, an angry petty boy who lashes out at people he barely knows. Neither of those people is who I really am, and I don’t like either of them.
  1. I don’t believe you are who you pretend to be either. No one’s beautiful vacation photos include the moments where your kids were throwing a tantrum or where you were yelling at the woman checking you in at the hotel that lost your reservation or the moment you broke down crying in the shower because the walls are caving in and you can’t even go outside to walk it off because the air is full of toxic smoke. Of course you hide your faults, we all do, but you’re too perfect to be real; too good to be true.

“If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” 

I work at a company that serves ads to make money, so I won’t pretend that this is a surprise. But the need to grow revenue while their membership and traffic flatline drives facebook to bad behavior. To show you what I mean, I’ll open my feed on my phone. This is what I see:

  • Friend Post
  • Suggested Groups
  • NYT Ad
  • Group Post
  • People You May Know
  • Group Post
  • Ad disguised as a “suggestion”
  • Friend Post
  • Ad
  • Friend Post

Only half of the first 10 posts are content I might actually care about. The rest are ads or internal “traffic drivers”.

According to facebook, I’m interested in Dungeons & Dragons, liberal media, and racist memes…

Refresh, 7/10 are ads (3 are marketplace posts).

Refresh, 6/10 are ads.

Refresh, 3/10 (good one!)

Next, 6/10 again.

I have plenty of opinions about why facebook shows me the content that it does, but I’m tired of scrolling through piles of smoldering garbage to see a few posts targeted to goad me into responding.

So Anyway…

If you need me, you already know how to get hold of me. For the 4 or 5 of you that want to see photos of my kids, you already know that my wife is a prolific facebook/instagram poster, so look for them there.

For the other acquaintances I leave behind, I will miss you. Know that there will be a moment on some rainy afternoon in a distant November when I will think of you and feel a pang of regret. I’ll marvel that we could once be so close, yet drift so far apart. I’ll wonder what you’re doing, and I’ll question what’s wrong with me that I am unable to maintain friendships through the changing seasons of my life. I’ll wax philosophical that I hold a static version of you in my mind while considering all the ways that I’ve changed and muse about who you really are today. Then I’ll take a sip of my middle-shelf whiskey, put down my thesaurus, and a single tear will roll down my cheek, shed for the times that were and for the times that could have been.

About this Human

Sherm is a 10th-level human Monk attempting to multi-class into Bard. His alignment is Lawful Good, shifting towards True Neutral. Upon character creation, he took the Luck feat, even though his DM has a blanket ban against it.