When I closed my Facebook account, I said it would only be for six months. I had been on for about four years, had something like 400 “friends,” and was getting ready to bid goodbye to undergraduate friends headed to graduate and professional school. In Facebook’s own words, the site “connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them,” so it would have been the perfect time for me to NOT get off. But I needed to clear my head, to get a sense of my bearings, to figure out where I was headed and where I wanted to be. I needed to simplify my life, and pressing that “deactivate” button seemed like a good way of doing it. And it would only be for 6 months, I told myself.
Well, here I am, three years later, and still no Facebook account for Laura Creel. I admit: I’ve logged back on several times to download pictures from a Europe trip I once took, to see reactions to the death of Osama Bin Laden, to check out an acquaintance’s ugly wedding dress. But it just never felt right — like it did when I was 18 and so cool with a college email account — so I stayed off.
I’m glad I did. And on the eve of the three-year mark apart from the social media persona that I built for myself, I’ve been thinking about some of the reasons why it’s best for me to not see that newsfeed five times a day: When I once-upon-a-time had a Facebook, I was excessively careful with the pictures I put up, the posts that I submitted, the updates I commented on, and not in the I-want-a-real-job-someday-so-I-need-to-be-careful-about-what-goes-on-here kind of way. It was more like the will-this-comment-make-*name*-think-I’m-cool? kind of way. It was a method of repositioning myself to create the illusion of coolness, or beauty, or wit.
To some extent, we all do this, social media or not. For me, though, this exacerbated the problem. It gave me yet another space in which I could control and manipulate others’ opinions about me. It wasn’t a good situation. Sticklers for control need to be broken of their dependence on whatever it is about that control that makes them feel safe. What they don’t need is another arena in which to exercise that behavior. Of course, this is a personal anecdote, but I think it’s something that many people have experienced as well. And it’s not good for any of us.
I do realize that the writing that I do for this site lies in a social media space. I get it. And yes, some of the same concerns about control and audience perception that I’ve just discussed are present even in my work for Little Utopia. But there is something about Facebook that is different — perhaps the bigger audience it serves?¹ I don’t know what, but there’s something about it that casts a spell on a user like me, and because of that I’m terribly glad that I’ve been three years clean of it.
¹ Let me be clear: I would LOVE it if Little Utopia had 1/100 of the readership that Facebook has. That’s my dream. And you know what? I’m not above begging: Please tell all your friends about this site, and if you know anyone who wants to give Charlie or I a book deal, I’ll kneel and kiss your feet.
Laura Creel (@Little_Utopia) is the managing editor of Little Utopia.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ Real Housewives Echo Some Real Values
♦ U.S. Government Gives Advice on How to Invest Money — Because They’re Really Good At It
♦ On Being a Miami Heat Fan
♦ Taco Bell’s Questionable Cantina Menu Campaign
♦ Minnesota Representatives Show Us They’re Serious About America’s Problems