Friday, August 3, 2012

So Long, Facebook...

It's been a few months now since I deleted my Facebook profile, and I'll life is so much better. It was no small task, deleting my profile.
First, I had to find the "Delete Profile" button, hidden deep within the recesses of my security settings. Then I had to work up the guts to actually press it. There was so much I was afraid of: not knowing what was happening in people's lives, whether people would see I left them and be upset with me, or whether they would even notice at all (which they didn't). Would I still be happy with who I am? I'd had my profile since Facebook's early days when it was geared toward college students (you had to have a school-affiliated e-mail address to register, and you could even put your detailed class schedule on your profile to connect with others in your courses!). And, as much as I hate that I felt this way, I got a sense of validation from being tagged in photos and talking to friends in a place everyone could see it. It was like saying to everyone, "look how fun and interesting I am!" Would I still be able to get that feeling in life after seven long years of getting it online? Would I still feel like a valid person in the world?

Well, I had started to realize that Facebook was actually doing more harm than good, and looking back I can see that even more clearly. I was basically using Facebook to compare my own life to other people's. I read an article somewhere that most people do this, and that it lowers their self-confidence considerably; I ended up feeling worse about myself looking at others' profiles who had more tagged pictures or more online communication with their friends than I did. Other people always just seemed more interesting. Even if they had less content on their profiles, I found myself thinking, "Well, they probably have better things to do than sit around on the computer messing with their Facebook profile." How crazy was I to continue putting myself down this way?? In short, it was exhausting!

Not to mention reading everyone else's constant complaints in their status updates. Anytime I was in an optimistic mood, all I had to do was take a glance at my home page, and I was brought right back down to the darker side of life.

Anyway, so all of this culminated in me deleting my profile. I clicked the "Delete Profile" button, and I was directed to a page instructing me to appoint a new admin to the group I was leader of. If I did not, the group would be left leaderless and *abandoned*! How I performed the task, found the button again, and clicked it. Then I was brought to a page confirming I was no longer admin of any groups, and there was a nice extra element below. There were four pictures lined up next to each other, the profile pictures of four of my Facebook friends. Above them it read, "Are you sure you want to leave?" and below, "Jessica will miss you.....Anna will miss you......Jim will miss you........Emma will miss you." Geez, could they make this any harder? I literally had to convince myself that these people would not miss me, and that if they did, they could call me on the phone. I pressed the confirmation button, once again. Then I had to enter my password and enter one of those random anti-robot codes. Then I had to decide whether or not I wanted future e-mail notifications when people tagged me in photos or invited me to events through my recently-deleted profile. What?! Isn't that why I was deleting it, so I could not communicate through the website? Then, I had to check my e-mail for the confirmation message and click on a link in it. BAH!! Those tricky Facebook people really know how to test your willpower.

It was finally done. When I saw the popup telling me I was officially off of Facebook, a strange sense of liberation washed over me. I no longer felt an obligation to check up on everyone every day to make sure I never missed a beat of their oh-so-interesting lives!

Since then, I've actually been more satisfied with myself and my life. I actually have time to improve my life, instead of figuring out ways it isn't good enough. I am on Pinterest, though, and while I do find myself comparing my profile with others', it isn't in quite the same fashion, since the two sites are so different. I also make a good effort to catch myself doing this so I can put a stop to it ASAP. I should be happy for other people and their successes in life and on the internet, not demeaning them in my mind because I think I'm not doing as well. If that's what I think, I should change myself, not wallow in self-pity over the fact that I haven't done it yet. A year from now, 12 months will have passed one way or the other. Do I want to be able to say I've improved myself in that time or simply wanted to improve, but didn't have the gumption to actually do it? I think I'll take the former. Because that way, even if I fail at something, I'll be able to say, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I have tried needlepoint (or whatever), and I am terrible at it!" with the biggest smile on my face.

That's sort of what this blog is for me. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be to publish my thoughts in a worldwide market. But I'm doing it. As of right now, I have no followers, and I don't know if anyone has or will read this. But how would I know if I didn't put it out there? People can't read something that doesn't exist.

So I encourage all of you out there to try something new whenever the mood strikes you. Failure is nothing to be ashamed of. At least you tried.

-Christi Lee

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