By Celeste of And What a Mom!
I’m a recovering Facebook junkie. There should be a 12 steps program to deal with this troubling addiction.
For a time, I would log in before getting out of bed, during every bathroom break, and anytime a conversation started to stall. Nursing sessions with my son we’re incomplete without at least one newsfeed scan. And if you let me, I could rattle off superfluous information for my 442 “friends,” some of whom I haven’t seen since elementary school, to anyone who would listen.
But I started to notice something recently that troubled me and made me take a break from the Facebook madness for several months now: Facebook made me an asshole.
I found myself less happy, more unsatisfied with myself and my own life, and jealous of friends with their vacation photos and status updates of big personal or career achievements. I was annoyed by happy news, perturbed by controversial opinions, and livid over events my friends were attending where I — gasp — wasn’t even invited!
So I took a step back. I decided to take some time off and reflect on the positives and negatives of Facebook to determine whether it was worth continuing on this road to madness or finding new ways to waste my time. Three months into my sabbatical, I stand by my initial revelation. Facebook truly made me a self-conscious, dishonest, angry asshole. Here are five reasons why:
1. Jealousy – This one seems obvious, but here’s an example: Liz went to the Bahamas last week? That’s so cool, right? No. Fuck her. How does she even have the money to do that? And with that boyfriend I told her was “not a great fit” (girlfriend code for a douchebag). What is she thinking? And look at that bikini pic. She’s totally sucking in there, and it’s probably photoshopped anyway.
2. Cyber Stalking – Wow, it is so easy to stalk people on Facebook. Even people who aren’t your friend. Has anyone else noticed this? I’ve spent hours cyber stalking old boyfriends, old crushes, old girlfriends, old frenemies. What a friggin waste of time. And how sad is it that my ex has the tech-saviness to block me but doesn’t realize new girlfriend Fatty McFat-Fat keeps almost all her pics and updates as public. Meaning I can see everything. I know about the ring, you dum dums. Wow, this one really makes me feel like an asshole. If anyone needs me, I’m going to be in a corner, curled up in a fetal position, hating myself.
3. Dishonesty – I don’t think I’m alone in saying I do not reveal the full truth in my posts, my updates, and my pictures. I tend to edit my updates with what I think will garner the most likes, only post photos that make me look pretty/smart/successful, and filter my comments so as not to upset anyone. And I know almost everyone else is doing it too, which makes me wonder how much truth there even is on Facebook. How many pics did Liz toss before finding that one shot that’s angled just right (and totally photoshopped) and makes her look 10 pounds thinner?
4. Staying Present – Sometimes I would get so caught up in how a life-altering moment would be crafted for Facebook, I missed out on just being present. When my son walked for the first time, I was almost frustrated I couldn’t get a good video to capture the moment perfectly. I wasn’t jumping for joy and hugging my baby with a mother’s pride. I was tinkering with my iPhone, trying to shift the camera from landscape to portrait, looking for the source of lighting glare, and begging my son to “try it again, but go towards the fridge this time, honey!”
5. Sequestering “Likes” – There are unspoken rules to what gets liked and what doesn’t. I reserve my clicking hand for “liking” updates based on very certain criteria. I don’t care if you just had your first baby, cured cancer, or won the Nobel Peace Prize. If you haven’t liked any of my Facebook posts, I’m not going to like yours. Welcome to kindergarten, folks. Wait, it gets better. If you like some or most of my posts, there’s an 80-100% chance I will like your posts back. It’s just common courtesy. But if you say something I disagree with (e.g. politics, abortion, gun control), all these rules get squashed. Not only will I not “like” it, once or twice I’ve been petty enough to de-friend. Yep, I’m an asshole.
After all this, you can see why I’ve stepped out of the Facebook game. Of course, there are things I sorely miss. I hate hearing about pregnancies, engagements, and other happy news weeks after everyone else. I hate feeling less involved in my friends’ day-to-day lives than I used to be. And I have to work harder to maintain some of my closer friendships by putting more effort into face time, emails, and phone calls. Yes, some relationships have faded as a result. But with my closer friends, I see the superficiality melt away. Instead of keeping tabs on their lives through a newsfeed, I can connect with them individually and on a deeper level. I would go so far as to say our relationships have grown.
Yes, I’ve considered that maybe I’m just an asshole and it doesn’t really matter whether I’m exercising my poor, ugly characteristics through Facebook or another outlet. But I truly believe that Facebook has made me a worse person. And if cutting it out of my life helps me be a better friend, mom, and human being, let’s call this post Step 1 – Admitting the problem.
About the Author
Celeste is a mom to a toddler and expecting another boy in 2016, and loves to write about the good, bad, and the “what the heck am I doing??” parts of motherhood. She is also a marketing professional, which has armed her with bountiful experience in cleaning up poop and managing temper tantrums. Follow her journey and learn about The Ultimate Mom Challenge™ here and on Facebook.