5 Reasons I’ve Considered Dropping Facebook

“Are you sure you want to deactivate this account?”

The words across the page cause me to pause. My index finger hovers over the enter key, sweat begins to bead on my brow. Deactivate? My Facebook account? Why would I do such a thing? And yet I’ve been thinking about this for months.

It’s like deciding to go decaf or giving up smoking for the first time . . . if I make this decision, is it going to stick?

There are five reasons I sit here deciding whether or not to quit Facebook:

1) Competition:

My sister recently made a rather humorous observation, “Why does Dad always comment on your posts but not on mine?” Well, the reason’s obvious, my posts are witty, cunning, and elicit immediate responses from everyone. She asked in jest, but it revealed one of Facebook’s uglier sides. Competition. We notice don’t we? How many “likes” someone receives, how many comments someone gets for their posts and how many we get for ours. We may wonder why Jane got 58 birthday well-wishes, and we only got 45.

Friends post pictures of a night out, and their other friends may feel frustrated and left out, instantly confronting feelings we haven’t felt since jr. high. We’re may be 30, 40, or 50-years-old but can still feel discarded easily, left hanging in the social sewer.

This is most likely the problem of the FB user, not the FB system. A large handful of even the most confident people lately have confessed to me a feeling of competition over friendships on FB. Meeting up with groups of friends is a good and completely natural part of life, but posting the details (and pics) draws unnatural attention to it. Jane and Sally may have always hung out, but once they start posting the pictures of their weekly outings, playgroups, shopping trips, and birthday celebrations, their other friends, Betty and Helen, begin to feel a left out. And so the game begins, Betty and Helen start posting party pictures in return—and the tension rises. Sadly, I am not making this up.

2) Quality Friends vs. Quantity Friends:

I may have 214 friends, but am I diminishing the value of my real friendships?

My friends “like” and comment on my posts with heart-felt responses like “cute!” and “neat!” and I fool myself into thinking I’ve made a connection. I know about how sick Chelsea’s kids have been, and how Beth was up all night yesterday. I even know about Dan’s recent trip to the ER. But how often am I settling for an “I’m sorry! Get better soon! I’ll pray for you!” comment instead of picking up the phone to see if there’s anything I can do? Have we fooled myself into thinking I’ve truly loved my neighbor?

We “connect” with “friends” and say “love ya!” and “Miss ya!” . . . but barely make effort to write a card, visit, or pick up the phone and say “Hi. Lets have coffee.”  Instead, we sit alone at Starbucks, and post a picture of our latte art.

3) Facebook is not reality

Facebook helps us make assumptions about each other’s lives. I had a friend once say to me, “I would have invited you to the party, but I saw on FB that you were so busy and stressed out. I didn’t want to pressure you.” Maybe I was busy. Maybe I was free. She never bothered to actually find out.

Our FB persona may not reflect reality. If we tend to post pictures of great times, fun moments, social engagements, and snapshots of ourselves with every friend we see, we may inadvertently project a false social persona. Or perhaps, it is not inadvertent. Most people I know post positive status updates.  Rarely, if ever, have I seen someone say, “Woke up bloated today” or “Dang these hemorrhoids!” or,  “My husband and I are in a bad fight.” Yet those are the things that so often, we can actually all relate to.

Our status updates are not actual representations of our life. Unfortunately, we assume friends are “busy” when they may be desperately lonely. We assume friends are happy and well, when they may be drowning in depression.

4) Facebook: A Breeding ground of insecurity:

A very confident young mom I know recently experienced an emotional setback due to what she read online. Much along the same lines as jealousy and competition, insecurity also rears its ugly head on Facebook.

She came back from a preschool evaluation, one that no mother really ever wants to receive. She was told her kid was not ready for kindergarten and that he was unruly.  Feeling deflated and upset, she goes home and later logs onto Facebook. The first post she sees is this: “Had a wonderful preschool evaluation today! Jayson listens well and sits quietly . . . we try to instill godly values in our son, and we’re happy to see the results!”  Crushed, my friend actually began to weep, thinking, “I do that too! I instill godly values. But my son doesn’t sit quiet!”

It is normal for us to compare and if someone is already prone to a low self-esteem, Facebook will exploit it.

5) Lack of tact:

Facebook provides a great opportunity for connecting, but it shouldn’t be our primary mode for relating with others. Without seeing the expression in someone’s eyes, their body language, or hearing the sincerity in their voice, we may become prone to communicating without tact.

Political and religious conversations run rampant on Facebook, and while some remain decent and conversational, some become outright rude. People post opinions without a thought about how they come across. Words are curt, short, and volatile and often the written word is used more cunningly and quickly, with provocative intention. In person, we might think twice before saying the first thing we think . . . maybe.

Of course this begs the question, is Facebook really the place to post political or religious remarks? I scoff at the posts that say, “If you love Jesus, you will post this link.”  Seriously? When I get to heaven will Jesus count up how many times I “liked” someone’s “I love Jesus” post or how many times I re-posted that I love him, and decide my eternal fate over this issue? I don’t’ think so. But maybe that’s just me.

I stare at the words on the screen, “Do you wish to deactivate this account?”

Yes or NO?

I hesitate.

How could anyone lose 214 friends in one day!??

Sweat . . . palpitation . . . anxiety . . . I pop a Prozac and then . . .

I post my decision to stay on Facebook.

Afterall, I believe it is more a user issue, than a system issue.  Facebook isn’t the problem, nor is it inherently evil, how I use it on the other hand is worth scrutinizing.

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