I took an internet break. And I’m actually not totally ready to come back, but I know that people get worried about other people when they disappear.
Sometime in June, I deactivated my facebook account. I hadn’t really been planning to — it just sort of happened. I was getting ready to move and feeling unreasonably stressed. I found that I was checking my phone obsessively, and since facebook is the thing most likely to have seen any change within just minutes, I found myself checking it all the time. And found my anxiety level mounting.
I don’t blame facebook for making me anxious — that’s all me. But it certainly wasn’t helping matters. So one day I just deactivated it. Figuring that within a couple of days, I would find myself missing it. I predicted that soon, I I wouldn’t be able to contact a person that I really wanted to contact. I would feel like I was missing out, not receiving important invites to events.
But what’s funny is … that never happened. People who I’d thought must have lost my number, sent me text messages. I received nice emails from folks who noticed I was gone and wanted to make sure they could contact me. I discovered that actually, I did know how to contact everyone I wanted to contact. Or if I didn’t, I could easily get the information from someone else. And I didn’t particularly miss anyone else.
I actually still don’t miss it, but I’m thinking about reactivating just for the ease of it. I think what I’ve discovered is most important to me about facebook is it keeps me accountable to people. It’s less easy to hide, less easy to be avoidant when you’ve got facebook. And I suppose that’s part of what’s annoying about it, but it’s good too. It’s been a valuable lesson, too, discovering that I don’t really NEED it. I look at my phone less; I feel like the time I spend on the internet now is more productive, or at the very least I stop doing wasteful things more quickly than I would have before, because it is clearer, sooner, that I’m not using my time wisely.
I will almost certainly do a serious friend-culling, if and when I reactivate my account. If I haven’t missed or thought about contacting a person during this time, it seems like a good opportunity to take a long hard look at whether that person is really my friend or just someone I added randomly. And not that that is a total waste of time — I have definitely had casual friendships become better friendships via facebook. But it can be good to examine your behavior sometimes and take stock of where you’re making your life better, and where you’re really just being lazy.