If you were to make a list of things that might really make a difference in your life, quitting Facebook would be way down there. Probably about the same level as quitting American Idol or vowing to clip your toenails more regularly. Which is to say, it can’t hurt. But neither can it make much difference in the fullness of time.
But I quit anyway. Again. It was late at night and I’d had a little too much wine. I was about to “like” a picture or clip somebody had shared, one of those hilarious things that beg to go viral. Then I thought: You know what? To hell with this. I had the sense of time passing, too much of it spent liking stuff on a screen, the rest hoarding incoming likes like precious gems.
Like. It’s funny how Facebook has formalized the word. It now has a specific duty: A small unit of affirmation that can be precisely measured and accumulated. If you believe certain studies, each “like” also delivers a tiny cargo of dopamine right where it feels good. As you may have read, we humans like dopamine more than good coffee or good wine. It’s the currency of our time.
Like all currency, you definitely want to get more than you give. When people complain about the narcissism they see in social media, this is what they mean. Sad to say, there isn’t much reward in just looking at what your friends and pseudo-friends are up to, especially when they all appear to be leading wonderful lives. If you want to be liked, you have to jump in there and be noticed. That requires a certain number of cat videos, yes, but it also requires an ongoing emphasis on numero uno. Which, you have to admit, can occasionally seem tiresome to those who are looking for a little dopamine of their own.
Kind of like this blog. The same night I figured out how to cancel Facebook, I poured another glass of wine and decided to cancel the blog too. To hell with everything! That lasted about 20 minutes, but apparently my tent-folding pronouncement lingered on the server a bit longer than I thought it would. Oh well. Great way to build traffic, right? Every so often just tell your few faithful readers you will blog no more forever.
Anyway, I’m still blogging, for the time being. But off Facebook. For the time being. I don’t expect either to make much difference and I promise not to be all self-righteous about it. I know there are a lot of folks out there for whom Facebook has enriched their lives in myriad ways. That’s great. Me, I just want to look at my phone less.