As the first month of 2012 edges on, I get closer to a landmark in my daily internet life: nearly one month without any use of or affiliation with the enormous online community and network known as Facebook.
The world of the social network does not seem foreign to me quite yet. I still catch myself sometimes thinking within its terms. For example, I might find something interesting that I previously would have posted to my Facebook profile to share with all of my contacts. But even if those thoughts still exist, they are irrelevant. Not only am I disinterested in sharing such things, I am incapable of doing so. I’m logged off and locked out, for good.
At first the pain and difficulty was obvious. I was experiencing headaches and found myself constantly apprehensive. Generalized anxiety. My mouse searched around for the link to Facebook but could not find it. My settings were wiped and I received nothing. That is still the case, although my anxiety is close to gone. Another feeling has taken its place, though. With no way to participate in the digital community I feel left out, lonely and exiled. So I ask myself: what am I missing? The answer is that I’m not really missing anything. With such a distance from a community that became toxic to me, I don’t have to care about melodramatic issues between friends and all of the other memes flowing through that place. I imagine myself hiking into virgin forest of sorts. Perhaps that metaphor is too strong: I live on rural farms and in the woods, now, rather than the dense metropolis.
So what have I learned in 24 days? I’m not quite sure of that, either. And there is nothing that needs to be said on the subject other than the obvious. For now, I choose to live somewhere else. By doing so the adverts for Facebook stick out everywhere, where as previously they were seamlessly integrated with all forms of media. The television tells me to “‘Like’ us on Facebook” or “Check out our Facebook page” and I recognize this attempt to pull me in and, with pride, say no.
The power to choose is liberating.