Reclaiming one’s life in the Digital Age: Adios Facebook

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Last week, I decided to delete my Facebook.

Without going into a long drawn-out explanation, I felt like I was losing an unacceptable amount of my “life” to the distraction of everything digital – to e-mail, texting, tweeting and to Facebook.

Not only that, but in addition to losing time, I also believe that all this “noise” – all this information either available to me or coming at me – was physically distorting pieces of me mentally and emotionally.

I found that I was generally increasing the amount of time with my brain buried in a smartphone or iPad and I was decreasing the amount of time that I spent in conversation with people face to face; in reading or writing letters; in simply listening to people; in noticing the things my children were doing or saying; and in general, missing out on parts of life that I suspect are really critical to my health.

So I decided to take the first step, and that was Facebook. The next step will involve my iPhone, but I am still processing exactly what I will do.

I knew that deleting my Facebook would be hard. I have had it now for probably three years or so, maybe longer. I have reconnected with a lot of people and old friends with whom I otherwise would never have reconnected, and I have enjoyed the peek into their lives through the posts on their walls, their photos and their messages.

I have enjoyed this but, really, there were only a small number of my friends that I actually interacted with out of the around 160 on my “friend” list.

When I started actually making myself get serious about this, I started going over my Facebook to make sure I knew what I was going to lose. I copied my “quotes” and all those “life lessons” that I had included in my “basic information.”

I then made screen shots of all my friends because I really don’t want to forget any of them, but I know full well that I will probably have no further contact with many. Realizing that aspect has been disturbing and sad to me, but I also realize that it is just part of the cost of taking part of my life back.

Everything worth doing or having has a cost. If it doesn’t, then you’re probably going to find that it wasn’t really as valuable as you thought it was.

When I started going over the photos in my albums and also those that were posted to my wall for these years, I really started getting cold feet about this deleting thing. It started to feel like I was taking my scrapbooks and throwing them into the fireplace.

All that time. All those memories. All those friends. Did I really want to do this?

Well, one of the few advantages of being 57 is that by that age you usually have a good idea about how you are going to behave in situations – what you will do and what you will not do. And very early on, I knew that I probably would not follow through with this.

So I thought about it and decided to post the following on my Facebook wall: “OK, so to all my friends and especially family – so you won’t think that I have de-friended you, after considerable thought I think I am deleting the ol’ Facebook account this week. I am going to spend the time I save doing more of the other stuff I did before FB was around – like read, converse, write letters, etc. So, don’t be surprised one of these days to get an old-fashion pen-and-ink letter from me! Cheers. Ray.”

I knew the only way to make myself delete FB would be if I publically announced that I was doing it. This way, I would look like an idiot if I didn’t. Yes, I know some of you are saying “well, you are an idiot anyway” – and I know who you are.

Anyway, about a dozen of those friends who I was actually in contact with through Facebook posted to my wall. The first post was from my oldest friend: “Smart move.”

The 14th comment that came in while I was typing this sentence was from cousin Mirasol in Berlin, who said, “You’re just a few days ahead of me [in deleting your account]. Make sure I get your Christmas letter.”

So anyway, I have given myself until Wednesday, March 14, to do it. I have already been warned that Facebook will do everything it can to make it hard. I am told by some of my more Facebook-savvy friends that it will also probably only allow me to de-activate my account. You know what, I really don’t care if it is deactivated or completely killed because on Wednesday, it is gone and I get part of my life back.

Cheers.