Facebook, We Need to Break Up

Oh, hey there, Facebook. We need to talk.

I think it’s time to  break up. Completely. I never want to see you again.

This has been growing for a while. Things started out good, but you’ve changed.

The first sign was your cultic ways, how you used my friends to get me to spend more time with you. Then you manipulated me into giving you more information: My phone number, my current location. You rifled through my contact files and insinuated yourself into my phone.

You’re a creeper, Facebook.

Now you watch my every keystroke, even when I’m not logged in. You tell people what I’ve been reading, even my insomnia-driven reading on mating whales. You even tried, without my knowledge, to take over my email. And you seem hell-bent on revealing my location to the world, even when I’d rather not.

I have no doubt you’ve stored all this information in your pretty little databanks, ready to use it to your advantage. In fact, you already do. You pimp me out to advertisers and media outlets.

I have no illusions that you have my best interests at heart. All this power is for Facebook and Facebook alone. And as long as I stay with you, you hold all the power.

Now, more sinister news. One of your 650 million users, a certain Mike Huckabee, created an event called “Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day,” a response to an all-American controversy in which your attitude toward a chicken sandwich defines, in every way, if you are a good or horrible person. His event disappeared, without warning or comment, from Facebook for 12 hours. Apparently, a glitch brought on by a massive response.

Meanwhile, pages for  The Bachelorette (907,810 likes), One Direction (8,247,513 likes), and Katy Perry’s PopChips Giveaway (299,606 users) continued without incident.

This should be a problem to us all, Facebook, whether we think Chick Fil-A is delicious patties of bigotry or nuggets straight from Heaven’s deep fryers.

Our land has litigated, legislated, and town-halled every jot and tittle of where you can pray in school, what you can say about evolution, if you can wear a head scarf, when you can and can’t carry a Sikh ceremonial dagger called a Kirpan, where you can build a mosque or church, when you can call someone stupid or lazy or evil, if you can pass out literature on the sidewalk and if you can lie about having won a military metal.

We endure Klu Klux Klan rallies and Westboro Baptist Church. We facilitate the Million Family March and the Million Mom March and the March to Support Israel and the March for Life. Falun Gong sets up on the National Mall in a tent with big signs. The Hare Krishnas insists on marching in the Fourth of July Parade. The motorcycle tribute called Rolling Thunder rumbles our capitol each Memorial Day.

Why do we allow all this? Because we believe that you have a right to be heard, whether you’re beautiful or despicable.

Facebook, you may have deliberately thwarted Huckabee or it may have been a glitch. I’m not sure I trust you enough to believe your explanations.  But the scary thing is that you could have and would be within your rights. As a corporation, you have every right to dictate your values, terms of service, and culture. As does Chick Fil-A.

I’m fiscally conservative and usually support business and corporations. But on this, I’m Team Government.

Too many years have passed and too much blood has been shed to voluntarily hand over our right to free speech to a monopoly that has no accountability other than the bottom line and values business policy over the Constitution.

Facebook, you manipulate, you control, you pimp me out, and potentially tell me what I can or can’t say.

That’s not love. That’s abuse.

But that’s not really why we’re breaking up. Not entirely. It’s not just you. It’s also me.

I don’t like who I become when you’re around.

I post banalities because realities would be too much. I respond with comments when in the past I would have sent a sympathy or congratulatory card. I’ve realized, a thoughtful wall post is no substitute for a visit and a gift of a casserole.

In certain moods, I can’t resist charged political or religious arguments that go nowhere and leave me feeling cheap, used, and dirty.I sigh with jealousy reading some posts, with smugness at others.

You’ve insinuated yourself into my brain as you have into my cell phone. I feel I have to keep up. I walk through life composing Facebook updates. I snap pictures with an eye to how they would look on my wall.

My narcissism now feels natural.

Worse, when scrolling through your ever updating information stream, I feel mild. I’m mildly annoyed, mildly interested, mildly joyful, mildly sorrowful, mildly amused.

I want to feel passion again.

Passion that comes from hearing funny stories told over beers or sitting with a weeping friend. Passion from serving others.

Nothing I do on Facebook has any value to anyone. I am not making the world better in any way. I am not helping, compassionate, sacrificial or caring.

I’d like my life to matter, not to be measured out – to paraphrase J. Alfred Proufrock – in status updates.

So we’re breaking up. Don’t msg. Don’t text. Don’t send creepy little reminders of how much fun others are having with you.

For the first time in a long time, I feel better. Free. Hopeful. I’m better off without you.

Goodbye.

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • http://www.boxfullofblessings.blogspot.com Jen Raiche

    I broke up with FB for awhile–about a year. It was good. But, then I’d run into people and ask how their spouse was, only to find they were divorced now. You see, no one communicates anymore because “Didn’t you read that on Facebook?” Ugh. I’m back now and not super happy about it. =/

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Yeah. I know. Still, in the past, didn’t we have those awkward conversations with acquaintances we never saw? If they’re distant enough to not have seen during whatever ordeal, they’re not really current friends, right?

      • Barbara

        Amen.

  • http://reelfilmnews.com Eddie

    “I want to feel passion again.
    Passion that comes from hearing funny stories told over beers or sitting with a weeping friend. Passion from serving others.”

    Good on you for this. A lot of this gets lost in the FB/Twitter shuffle – I found myself saying “Didn’t you see my Facebook status earlier?” to someone, and I realized the same thing. Stories, no matter how inane, are worth sharing with your friends over beers and having good face time with them is important. I don’t know if I will quit Facebook today, but I have a feeling it will soon be coming. Rediscovering life… whoever thought we’d be the ones to have to say that?

    eds

    • Rebecca Cusey

      You know that thing where someone starts to tell a story and you’re like, “yeah, I saw your status update?” and then they don’t have their best story to tell and you just stare at each other? Yeah. I’d rather have the face to face story.

      • http://www.calicodreams.net Mary Kelso

        Yes! When I post on Facebook, I’m condensing, I’m headlining. I want to share more, but when we are face to face its as if they’ve been given the Cliff’s Notes and they don’t have time for the real thing. Sad.

  • http://www.wholemama.com Amy Henry

    KUDOS to you, Rebecca. But what will you do about your public writing profile? Promotion and
    all that jackassery. Or do you care? I’d be off in half a heartbeat if I weren’t worried about exposure. Ugh.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      I have no idea. I was thinking about that for a long time, probably years. I finally decided to let the chips fall as they may.

      By which I mean, of course, that I’ll probably build an author page on Facebook. I want people to read what I write. I want to get away from the narcissism of “following” me or building an image or becoming a personality.

  • Lisa Joyce

    Incredibly accurate portrayal Rebecca! I’ve curtailed my Facebook viewing by about 80% in the last few weeks. Brings out a judgmental streak in me that I just don’t like. I’ve replaced it (…so sad that we need to have a “replacement” – there’s a reason for therapy right there…) with Words with Friends. I’m now better connected with really close friend of mine and hopefully avoiding Alzheimer’s disease in the process! I’m happy to report that when I get a free moment to myself, I’m now anxious to see if he’s played his latest move than I am to see who’s excited about their impending vacation or who’s kid has a fever of 101.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      I’d replace with Words With Friends…if I didn’t always lose. Maybe something simpler for me? Like Angry Birds? :)

  • Tiffany W

    I broke up with fb last week. It was and is so hard, but I am getting back to my life and hobbies. I didn’t realize how time consuming facebook has been. I found that I am a super level five stalker on facebook and that’s so lame. Now, I am back to my good friends and have left the hundreds of friends on facebook in the dust. I don’t know how long I will stay off but I committed to the end of the year.

    I very much enjoyed your blog… Thanks for sharing

    • Barbara

      Well said, Tiffany. Lol Level five stalker — really hard NOT to be with the way this is set up.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Thanks for the encouragement. Now I know I’m not the only one.

  • Pingback: Leaving Facebook: Breaking up is Hard to Do

  • Steve

    Ah irony. This article has been posted 46 times to FaceBook as I type this. Mine may be the 47th.

  • Vaun

    You have to do what is right for you. For me Facebook has become a way to have friends, which I would not otherwise have. I have a friend in Austrailia I did not have before. It is a way for me to be involved in Bible Study, across the country. It is a way for me to encourage others in their daily struggles. I can understand your feelings too. That is why it must be a personal decision. God bless.

  • Rachel Scardino

    Thank you, Rebecca, for communicating so many thoughts I’ve had regarding Facebook! I dumped Facebook in March 2011 and have NO intentions of going back. Life is better without it!!


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