At the start of the new year, my partner turned to me during dinner and casually changed the topic from the discussion about school work for the children. From her demeanor and tone, I knew that this was something far from casual and that she had been wrestling with something for some time.
“I’m thinking about deactivating my Facebook.”
What?!?! There are several things I thought I’d never, ever hear my partner utter. This was the top of the list.
I replied, “What?!?! What happened? Why do you want to do that?”
She explained that she was getting tired and drained from the toxic, negative vitriol that was coming through her feed each day. She started the day with a skim of her newsfeed. She ended the day by trying to calm down and go to sleep by doomscrolling Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. She indicated that she had enough.
Bystanders Not Allowed
As detailed in earlier posts, I also feel this tension as I utilize my social media feeds. I take a two-week hiatus and step away from everything at the end of the summer, and the end of the new year.
This reminds me of an interview with Naval Ravikant on the Tim Ferriss Show.
Ravikant was talking about the need for mindfulness in our interactions and the scourge of social media.
“…the human brain is not designed to manage every emergency in the world in real-time. We’re not designed to process all the breaking news on the planet in our heads. And this is one of my recent tweets, but the goal of the media these days is to make every problem your problem; that’s how they get attention. It’s how they get clicks. You have tribal wars going on, zombies battling each other, and they want to pull you in, where even non-participation is not allowed anymore, neutral bystanders are not allowed. So it’s a crazy world out there. There’s a circus going on with the monkeys, flinging feces at each other, and they want to drag you into the fight.”
I’ve felt this way with some of the content that I share online. It’s one of the reasons why I took the extended (month-long) break from social media this year. It’s also one of the reasons why I continue to consider de-activating my Facebook account.
For some reason, I ignore all of the good things in the world and focus on the one idiotic comment in a sea of comments online.
Moving to De-activate
I advised my partner to attack this in a couple of steps.
First, go through Facebook and remove everything. Download all of the photos that they have of you. Delete all of the photos from Facebook after you’ve archived them. Facebook doesn’t deserve that content.
While you’re there, delete/remove any information that Facebook has on you. The social network wants to know where you live, where you work, where you went to school, where you shop, what phone numbers you have, etc. They don’t need, or deserve, any of this information.
Facebook will howl and make it hard to identify what they have on you and delete it. The social network will constantly ping you with requests to “complete your profile.” Ignore it.
Second, give everyone notice that you’re leaving. Put together a simple post indicating that you’re stepping away, and give a time frame.
There is no reason to explain why. Don’t make it a performance. If you give reasons why you’ll encourage others to indicate that “you’re a hero” or “you’re a fool.” None of that matters, you need to step away and people that need to get in touch shouldn’t expect that you’ll respond.
I suggested that she didn’t need to step away permanently. This could be something temporary and that a two week hiatus would be hard, but meaningful.
Third, step away. Take any and all steps to step away from the networked connections.
I didn’t think a full de-activation was necessary even though this is what my partner wanted to do. I thought hiatus would be enough and that she’d be back.
I also suggested that turning off the notifications on her phone and watch would be enough as it is the primary contact device. She indicated that she needed to remove the apps from her phone. If the apps are on the phone…she’ll go check out the networks.
Not long after this discussion, my partner informed me that she downloaded and deleted all of the photos Facebook had of her, friends, and family. She archived these elsewhere.
She also deleted any/all info that the social network had about her.
She posted the following message to Facebook and Instagram, her two primary networks.
This notice was met by a flurry of messages from friends and acquaintances. She indicated that it was hard at times because she was able to stay in touch with some really good people that we moved away from. In private messages, they were able to exchange contact info and suggest that “hey, if our friendship is that important…why don’t we stay connected and meet up for coffee?”
At the end of the week, my partner deleted the social media apps from her phone.
She’s indicated that it has been tough to make the break. Many times she’ll look down involuntarily at her devices in order to kill some time scrolling through social media. She indicated that she’s shocked at the amount of time that was spent in these practices.
We’ve also used this as an opportunity to have these discussions in front of, and with our children. We believe it is important that they understand some of our thinking about these issues.
I’m proud of my partner and the decisions that she’s made. I was a bit shocked when she indicated “you know, I actually do pay attention to your research.” I was also interested to think more deeply about her decision making, and that she weighed my advice, but also (thankfully) ignored some of it.
I’ll continue to post on this topic…if she’ll let me. 🙂