“You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
Wow, I had no idea how dependent I’d become nor how much I took Social Media for granted until I tried to kick the Facebook habit during the past week.
As mentioned in my blog entry back on 16 May after the euphoria of deactivating my Facebook account began to wear off, “…we’ll see how this goes. I will say the first day of being untethered and unconcerned with my smart phone was truly like being on the first day of a real vacation. However, by the end of the day I was wondering what my family and friends had been up to and if I’d truly be able to stay off of FB long-term.”
Well, I guess we know the answer to that: I made it eight days without Facebook.
I should probably note that I botched my exit from Facebook in glorious form. After probably over-posting during the evening out with Debbie and then having “the moment of clarity” that prompted my decision to “leave Facebook” I sent out a “Last Post” status and started to do what I always did on Facebook… erase my tracks.
Suffices to say, in hindsight it was a bad idea: I should have done nothing and waited until I truly had a moment of clarity a day or so later, as I probably would have simply stopped paying attention to Facebook for a week to see how that went.
No, instead I burned the bridges as I left Facebook Island, wiping out my Friend’s list, deleting my profile photo and then de-activating the account. No, there would be no going back: I had to do this thing cold turkey or risk bouncing right back.
It wasn’t until I received a couple, “Are you OK?” Emails from long-time friends that I realized the error of my way in making the abrupt exit. Oh well, what was done was done and I’d just mop up the mess as best I could and move on ahead.
Those eight days without Facebook were really quite interesting. While on the one hand I truly relished not being glued to my phone and giving my full attention to the people and world around me, I sure missed knowing what our friends were all up to. I mean, it was quiet… really quiet.
I was able to deal pretty-well with being off Facebook in terms of “not knowing” what everyone was up to, but it was a nagging thing to be sure. I even found myself attempting to use text messages as a surrogate.
On the bright side, not having Facebook access forced me to take more photos during this past weekend’s Georgia Tandem Rally since I wouldn’t be able to ‘poach’ any from our friend’s FB postings. That was kind of interesting as I’ve always been really bad when it comes to taking photos, and Miss Debbie has probably taken 5 photos in the last 12 months so she’s right there with me.
It wasn’t until Sunday when four friends – both married couples – had a hard crash out riding their tandem during the Georgia Tandem Rally when I had my “Hotel California moment” that validated why Facebook and perhaps other social media applications are so ingrained into our lives.
We were all riding about the same route, but were several miles apart and riding with different friends which is not all that uncommon at tandem rallies. Not being connected with Facebook and having always been someone who doesn’t do much texting, phone calls or Email, I never even bothered to look at my phone other than when I took a few photos. It was only after getting back to our hotel when we learned of our friends crash, as all of the initial information was being passed along on Facebook supplemented by text messages. Without Facebook we were in the dark and it was no longer a good thing. Not being connected, we found ourselves sending text messages to friends who were either at the hospital with our injured friends or sharing information back and forth with them and the last thing they needed to be was a clearing house for information.
So, it was at that moment I realized I’d have to figure out how to reconstruct a Facebook account once I returned home: after all, my initial account was something of a mess in that about 150 friends had been cleared from the account while another 100 were Unfollowed. My solution was to create a new account and have a fresh start. It took me a little research to figure out how to create a second account without bringing the original one back to life and there were some bumps along the way as that ‘old account’ kept trying to come back to life. In fact, there was even a point where six of the sixty friends who had accepted new Friend requests on the new account were inadvertently unfriended again when the old account came back to life in parallel with the new site: I had no idea both accounts could be up and running at the same time.
After doing a little more research I discovered I could ask for Facebook’s help in truly deleting an account vs. having it merely deactivated, ready to spring to life and create havoc at any moment: something I experienced a couple times. I renamed my new account Mark P. Livingood with my middle initial so I could be sure which account was coming up when I logged-in to Facebook. It was about 24 hours after my request to delete the old account that all signs of it finally vaporized.
So, I think I’m well on my way towards a more healthy respect for the value of Facebook but, at the same time, will use various tools and features to try and reduce the amount of noise that comes with it. Sadly, far too many friends have been pulled into the emotional aspects of the never-ending political theater and other forms of discord that seems to dominate the infotainment (aka, news) industry. When that spills into Facebook feeds it can become somewhat tedious. This is particularly so since I have friends who fall into every political camp you can imagine… it sort of goes with the eclectic mix of hobbies and interests I enjoy. I guess that makes it a hazard of staying connected so I’ll deal with it.
Bottom Line: It’s good to be back and getting reconnected with friends and, to our friends, thanks for putting up with me and my botched Facebook exit and return. Rest assured that until something better comes along, it truly does appear my friend Ed G. was right: Facebook is like the Hotel California, “You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.”
With that I mind, going forward I may check-out from time -to-time and not post or comment, but I’ll still be checking my feed to make sure we keep current with our friends… something that’s easy to take for granted when you get overwhelmed by the noise that comes with Facebook.