I’m in a loveless relationship.
It started off so innocent and fun 17 years ago when I was just a junior at Wazzu, but now I feel used and duped.
No, I’m not talking about my relationship with my husband, Spanky, though we started dating around that same time. I’m talking about Facebook.
While it has promised friendship and connection, it has been playing me for quite some time. It stalks my every move. It pimps me out for revenue. It tells me what I can and can’t say.
As in every relationship, I can’t blame it all on the other party; some of this is my fault. I’ve probably shared too much, given too much of myself, let social media control me, but saying “enough is enough” is the first step. I came across a quote the other day that says, “If you’re not changing it, you’re choosing it.”
Change is hard even when the relationship is toxic—sometimes even more so when the relationship is toxic. That’s when it ceases to be a relationship and becomes an addiction, and we’ve all seen the ravages of addiction, whether that be drugs, alcohol, food, you name it. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.
But, how do you let something like this go? How do you give up a relationship that is imbedded in everything you do?
Before even officially vacating social media, I began experiencing withdrawals. Just announcing to the FB world that I was making the leap stirred up all kinds of emotions—emotions I imagine any addict goes through as they begin to detox or contemplate life without their drug of choice.
And, the addiction is real. I never knew how real it was until this very moment. How do I feel? As if I’m about to disappear. As if my validity has been based on likes for the past decade. As if I will be forgotten tomorrow.
Truthfully, it’s scary. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but this addiction has been 17 years in the making. I come from the original FB generation—the premier guinea pig, if you will.
No matter how much Spank and I have tried to be intentional with relationships, I now see that FB has hindered that over time. Sure, it probably started off harmless and even beneficial for keeping in touch with far-away friends, but anymore we think we’re keeping in touch when in reality we’ve just become observers. Spank has a great metaphor: We don’t have 400 friends—we’re really just watching the reality TV shows of 400 acquaintances and 20 real friends. We don’t actively participate; instead, we just watch life lived. We scroll through a slideshow of high moments and fake smiles and never get to the meat of someone else’s happy moments or painful ones.
And, we’ve become cynical too. We complain about the way things have become while sitting by as passive hypocrites. Well, Spanky and I have finally said “no more.” It’s time to put our money where our mouths are. Meaningful changes are hard. I’ve always known that if it isn’t hard, it isn’t worth doing. Where’s the reward in that? Spanky and I have always created our own path, followed “the road less traveled.” But, as Spank said, “If you’re always following someone else’s path, how are you supposed to have original thought?” While I know this will be hard—it was hard the minute I started toying with the idea—I trust that the reward will be great.
Still, as I began receiving email addresses and phone numbers from various FB friends, the sorrow only grew. Even though I have new ways to connect and stay in touch, I know it won’t be the same, but maybe the same is what’s wrong with social media. We’ve grown so accustomed to our lazy, lifeless, so-called friendships that we’ve become complacent.
Maybe that’s really why I’m languishing in this new decision to detach from social media—because I’m lazy and I know it.