…I feel terrific! Terrific, having said goodbye to FB, that is. The pros and cons of FB have been written about ad nauseum, so I’ll try to provide a somewhat brief and probably not but hopefully fresh perspective. I will attempt as well not to get too narcissistic…that would be perpetuating the navel gazing, I’m-so-awesome-and-important characteristics of FB anyway, yes?
I don’t claim to be any more spiritually evolved than the next person, but I do feel like I’ve reached a point in life where I just can’t tolerate disingenuousness. Life is hard. We all know that. Life is also wonderful, and we surely know that too. And the highs and lows of life are what jolt us into reality, jolt us into perspective that helps us grow. And so many of the qualities of FB don’t seem to line up with this striving towards becoming more honest and more real; FB is, generally speaking, an avenue for people to show off about how awesome their life is. And life can indeed be totally awesome. But life can also be really, really complicated and really hard. I realize FB isn’t supposed to be an avenue for spiritual growth (at least not with anyone or any organizations I know), so I’m not promoting that sort of approach to a frankly shallow form of social media. I’m promoting getting away from it entirely…if it bothers you.
I’ve been thinking about the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah” lately. “It’s not a cry that you hear at night, it’s not someone who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and broken hallelujah…There was a time when you let me know what’s really going on below, but now you never show that to me, do you? Remember when I moved in you and the holy dove was moving too, and every breath we drew was hallelujah.” THAT’S real. It’s not about painting a facade. So FB has become hard for me, as it has for so many people.
I should start by saying that for many years I was a big fan of Facebook. I first signed up in 2007, and I found it fun, entertaining, and a great way to stay in touch with friends and family…in a very superficial way, of course, as I hope we’ve all come to realize. On my 5 year wedding anniversary in 2011, I was excited to post some wedding photos because our wedding was pre-Facebook; so, many people I knew who weren’t at the wedding, even those close to me, hadn’t seen our wedding photos. I enjoyed posting photos promoting upcoming concerts & recitals, trips I did, and so on. But there was always a dark side. My philosophically evolved husband did not care for my posting personal photos of our life, which I’ve come to understand very well. Our relationship is private and sacred – it’s not a spectacle. Understood. So that’s a big point.
Apropos that, I guess my official “beef #1″ with FB is how it’s become an avenue for people to brag about their relationships/marriages. For example, you’ve got the young married couple who obnoxiously broadcast their adoration of their partners for the “world” to see. “I love you, honey, you’re the most amazing partner a gal could have.” I mean…really??? Isn’t that person, like, in the next room? Or on the other end of the phone? Isn’t it far more meaningful and powerful and REAL to say it to someone’s face? Or at the very least on their voicemail when they’re out of town? More to the point, said comment is pretty seriously private, am I right? I’m finding myself more and more thankful that Jason and I fell in love before Facebook. Even in my most active FB days, photos aside, I can’t imagine even beginning to try to portray that love over the internet for everyone to see…even though on some level I’d be dying to tell the world what I was feeling. Love is really a sacred thing, right? And should sacredness be broadcast for everyone, real “friends” or not, to see? That’s a big question that straddles various subjects way beyond FB. I have a friend who thinks that people who advertise their supposedly amazing marriages on FB are actually the ones with the most dysfunction. Definitely possible.
Beef #2: Musician friends bragging about their careers. We all have great times in our careers, we all have shitty times in our careers. If you’re making it (I mean, REALLY making it) as a musician, you deserve all the credit in the world, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a really, really tough life, and that deserves a huge amount of recognition, no doubt. But the constant broadcasting on FB, hidden behind such gems as “Feeling so blessed that I get to play with such amazing musicians…playing three gigs in one day…blessed.” I guess I’m one of those people who finds bragging to be very obvious, so it really just becomes embarrassing. All of that said, I definitely understand wanting to advertise gigs, so that’s not really the point here. When I got a full-time teaching gig, I really wanted to let people know that I was still playing, still gigging, still making creative performance a part of my life. As I get older, I’m caring less about people knowing that, but I still get it. The blatant, embarrassing bragging is harder to understand.
Beef #3: Oversharing super personal information. Like, health stuff. Super personal family drama. Not cool. It just screams “I’m attention starved and desperately need affirmation and empathy.” It’s not that I don’t empathize, but broadcasting it on FB just seems embarrassing and just way TMI.
Beef #4: Friend #1 makes passive aggressive statements about friend #2. Everyone else has no idea of the actual particulars of the situation, of course, so friend #2 naturally becomes a criminal. Not cool. And not a healthy way to address a problem. Seems pretty desperate to me.
Beef #5: FB is a time waster. Like TV. Or Pinterest (which I love). At least with Pinterest, there’s an artistic element that doesn’t give away or beg lots of personal information. (Obviously I’m feeling guilty about my pinterest obsession).
There are little things I miss, but they’re purely fleeting and superficial. Like, I’d love to share that I just bought my two favorite Bill Murray movies on DVD or that I’m not consuming dairy products these days and that I’d love suggestions for substitutes…but maybe those things aren’t so important in the grand scheme of things.
Lots of people love FB, stay healthy with it, and will probably be life long users. Many people have no interest in painting a facade of their life, or bragging, or being passive aggressive as a way to get at somebody. And those people will stick with it, likely. Not I. And thank goodness!
Leonard Cohen has a FB page, I think, though I suspect he’s not posting annoying, overly personal or passive aggressive comments. Below the photo, is Allison Crowe’s version of “Hallelujah”; I really like her version (KD Lang’s is actually my favorite, but she leaves out a couple of my favorite verses; this one includes one of those verses):