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article imageOp-Ed: Why my family got off Facebook

By Mark Alexander     Jan 26, 2016 in Lifestyle
Two years ago, my family decided to delete our Facebook accounts and we have never been happier. Maybe it's time for more of us to do the same.
Two years ago, I was driving home from work with my phone mounted to the dash bracket of my car. I saw the Facebook notification icon pop up and immediately and uncontrollably reached to touch the icon and reveal the hidden gold behind it. I stopped myself and said, "What the hell am I doing?". What could be so important on there that I am willing to risk my safety and those around me to use my phone while driving. At that moment, I decided that I am quitting Facebook. Upon my arrival home, my wife said to me, "You know, I was thinking today that I should delete my Facebook account. I have been home for a year on maternity leave and all these posts by my "friends" out having fun and bragging about their action-filled lives is depressing me."
We discussed a plan and decided that at noon that Saturday, we would post a message on our respective Facebook accounts stating that at midnight that evening, we will be deleting our accounts. If anyone wants to stay in touch, shoot us a message before midnight and we'll exchange contact information.
Out of our 600 collective "friends", about thirty sent us their contact info. Thirty.
We had been on Facebook for about 5 years. We had noticed during that time that we became irritated, angry, envious or depressed almost daily. Sometimes, we would feel several of these negative emotions in the same day. "That can't be healthy", we thought.
Why were we feeling these emotions? Things posted by "friends" seemed to be the most common culprit. Lack of engagement over our own postings was another. Why did we care? Most of these "friends" we hadn't seen in years. Turns out that only 30 out of 600 actually gave a rat's ass about us in the end. Why did the actions or lack of actions by 570 people who are irrelevant to our lives affect us so? Human nature, I guess. Then I realized something: These 600 people were our social circle and we were curators of very shallow, virtual relationships. However, our minds overvalued this circle and these relationships. Our life was reduced to cheap, superficial and virtual friendships.
People often complain that social media is a mean place, full of bullies and trolls.
We seem to have found an answer to that complaint: get off social media.
Nobody forces you to use Facebook and guess what, you don't need it to exist. There are still phones, email and text messages to keep people connected.
Technology has evolved so quickly over the past 10 years, but it seems that our minds have not evolved at the same exponential pace. We cannot properly process and exist in this virtual world we have created. More people are depressed than ever. People are putting too much stock into "friends" and relationships that really, do not matter.
Two years later and we now see more of our real friends than we have in years. If I am curious about how a friend is doing, I phone them and vice versa. When we were on Facebook, when I found myself wondering how someone was doing, I went to their page, liked a couple of posts and perhaps left a comment. Now I was up to date. My job as their friend was done. How cheap of a relationship is that?
Many people ask when we're getting back on. We always answer, "never". Life is better this way. Relationships are more pure and real. We don't have to deal with seeing others' brand-managed lifestyles.
Sometimes to move ahead, you need to take a step back and re-assess where you're going.
Remember: If a product is free for you to use, then you are probably the product.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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