“You have to understand that it is your attempt to get special experiences from life that makes you miss the actual experience of life.” – Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
If you have a friend, let’s say, who is greedy, intrusive, doesn’t respect boundaries, shares your private information for money, encourages divisiveness across broad groups of your peers, provides a platform for haters of all stripes, would you keep this friend, or would you finally decide they’re toxic, and decide to cut your losses, and leave the relationship?
I did it, finally. Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, and with some sadness, my Instagram, all gone. The hypocrisy of Facebook’s mission to ‘connect’ us, spilling over to anger when the NZ shooter live-streamed his murders. The constant broadcasting of negativity in the Twitterverse, punctuated with anger and divisiveness. The encroaching signs of ‘Facebook disease’ on my Insta feed, as their new masters poke and prod, looking for ways to further monetize the platform. The Oliva Jade ‘brand ambassadors’ hucking power strips for Amazon as part of her ‘faux-cool’ life. And, the ads! Those spooky tracking ads that could only come from combining multiple parts of my personal data, some of it only ever exposed to their algorithms by a single text or email. I went to OHSU Urology and posted a FB photo looking out over the new construction, only to see banner ads for urinary incontinence just minutes later on my IG (I’m fine, that’s not why I was there). And that’s with web activity, location tracking and history OFF!
I’m not sad for the loss of ‘acquaintance tracking’ where that girlfriend from high school who I haven’t seen in a very long time is on my FB (oh look, she’s a grandma!), or friends of friends who seem like perfectly nice people, but I’ve never met IRL. I’m not going to miss being ‘shadow-banned’ by IG because I posted 7 times in a day, or getting thrown into Twitmo for telling Don Jr that he’s an even bigger asshole than his Daddy. Or screening fifty new followers for trolls and bots who would report my colorful tweets.
No, I will miss seeing the brilliance of my friends and their adventures when we’re not together, or the beautiful sunset that I missed last night. I’ll miss their stories of struggle, hope, and perseverance. There’s so much more that I’ve come to depend on the convenience of social media to find, but the cost is too high. Now, the cost is measured in lives lost. Facebook in particular keeps finding new ways to herd us into nice groups of product, not for our differences (which make us strong) but for our ‘like-ness’. We are the product, and Facebook sits in our head rent-free, while selling us to advertisers or the Cambridge Analytica’s of the world.
There is some sadness in my heart, but zero regrets. Saturday, I called my friend on the telephone instead of IM’ing, and we talked. No ads, no meaningless distractions. Just a person talking to a person. I wasn’t pummeled with the usual ads filled with content based on our conversation. It was glorious.