The Break Up

There were signs I should have noticed. That’s always the way with hindsight. He was unhappy. Complaining. Even angry.

I still didn’t think my husband would do it, even though he’d been threatening to do it for months. I mean, who can really break up with Facebook?

kennyfacebook3Social media is a significant part of our daily lives. For many of us, Facebook adds meaning and information and interaction with people we don’t get to see everyday. It keeps us connected. It takes us along on friends’ vacations/family events/birthdays/milestones.  It helps spread the word when someone is sick or in need, or even a dog is lost. That is when you see the best of this online community.

That’s the good. Then there is the bad.

Exhibit A - with a lot of pretty girls, winning Emmys

Exhibit A – with a lot of pretty girls, winning Emmys

Facebook is ‘Brag Central.’ You do it. I do it. You may tell yourself you don’t. Trust me, you do. We all do. You may not be as bad as my one friend who posted their new $150,000 car on Facebook and made sure we all knew they paid cash, but we all do it in our own way. And it’s addictive. Who wouldn’t rather receive 70 likes on a post, versus the 9 likes you got on that last post? It’s like high school. Am I popular enough? Oh, please like me.

We crave the feedback and attention. It’s like things aren’t happening to us if we’re not posting them on Facebook for people to see and agree, ‘Yes, that is happening to you! I see you. I will like you. I will even comment.’

Our phones have made us 3rd party observers to our own lives. We enjoy our family outings and trips through the lens with which others view us.

That’s pretty whack.

The hate talk on Facebook has spiraled. A casual scroll of my feed at any time of day will find friends facing off, insulting and threatening to block or unfriend each other. I have witnessed ugly friendship break ups in comment threads.

Discourse is a vital part of life. But the civil part has all but been abandoned.

This year’s presidential election has made Facebook a land mine and there is no safe place to step. The intolerance is staggering. We get on Facebook and denounce someone and then react with anger and shock when our friends disagree with us. It’s like that time I touched my grandparent’s electrified fence at their farm. Guess what? It shocked me. Guess what? I knew it would. Action begets reaction.

My husband is sick of it. All of it. The adorable photos of his sibling’s kids is not enough to keep him on. The wonderful new friends he made at the Olympics in Rio, whose homes are peppered around the globe, is not enough.

I told him he would miss sharing his stories. He said he'll be fine.

I told him he would miss sharing his stories. He said he’ll be fine.

He’s had it with the hate. He doesn’t want to let any more of it into his space, into his heart or his head.

He’s already tried to say goodbye once, but somehow Facebook wouldn’t post it. Hmmm. The big brother aspect struck us both.

The second time worked. He is off.

We know other friends who have done it. They tell him that they grab their phone to check the feed and realize, ‘I’m not there anymore.’ Most report a feeling of relief. Somehow life goes on without seeing the giant burrito Bob ate for lunch.

I’m betting my husband will answer the siren call of Facebook again one day. Our son will make an incredible goal or our daughter will do something adorable, and no doubt he will feel a twinge, a deep urge to share. But here’s a novel thought. For now, when that happens, he will just enjoy it –as their dad. He will not be grabbing his phone to document it. He will be in the moment. I know as I type this and get ready to share it on Facebook, that’s a really good thing.




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4 comments on “The Break Up
  1. Jeff says:

    Gave it up a few years ago and never looked back. It’s liberating. I look forward to the telephone conversations I have with friends and family to get caught up on their activities. We laugh and carry on about previous hijinks, ours and others. It’s fun.

    The vitriol is never there over the phone, only polite debate and perhaps agreement to disagree. They way a civil society should be.

    I worked Vancouver and London Olympics myself and look forward to long individual emails with new friends or direct connection by phone, I don’t need the public spectacle.

    Congratulations to your husband, he won’t miss it.

    Be forewarned, big brother aspect does not go away. I still get messages telling of my Facebook friends activity, even though I’m not there anymore.


  2. Good for him. I changed some of my settings on Facebook a year or so ago. I no longer follow anyone. I mostly use Facebook to keep abreast of the news. I subscribe to numerous local new stations and reporters. One of the most discouraging things is when ten or so “local” news station post the same story, with the same photo, and the same comment, which is usually something designed to rile people up, at the same time. I sometimes read the comments, and sometimes post what I believe to be the truth, sometimes with a link attached. This truth-telling has sometimes gotten me banned from commenting on local media station pages. I guess they don’t want any alternative narratives posted. Facebook, government, and media are actually involved in a sophisticated behavior modification and social control program. Lately I only post pictures of animals, or interesting stories about people. I no longer post photos of myself, friends, or things I’m doing. Like you said about your husband: “He will not be grabbing his phone to document it. He will be in the moment.” I read a book a few months ago about words and images by Jacques Ellul titled: “The Humiliation of the Word” and it really put me off of taking photographs, because even the simple act of taking photographs doesn’t allow you to live in the moment. Technologies are great, but they are not neutral. We have to master them and not allow them to master us. As Neil Postman has said: “New technologies alter the structure of our interests: the things we think about. They alter the character of our symbols: the things we think with. And they alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts develop.” (Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology)

  3. Marsha says:

    Well said, since I never did Facebook I can’t relate, but like Kenny I don’t need to know what people ate for lunch. Who cares. Love you brother stay strong ‼️

  4. ROCKY SCOTT says:

    You nailed it Jaye–I mostly get on FB when it is soo hot outside I can’t go out there. As you well know, that has been the case for many days now this summer. Great story, I’m pulling for your husband!!It would not be so bad if all the polital junk and like you said, people posting their food. Most of it looks like it has been eaten once already,lol Later, Rocky

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