I've laughed at all the stupid memes on Pinterest that point out how Facebook makes us hate people we know while (insert name of other social media here) makes us love people we don't know. I've laughed because there's a ring of truth about that meme. And several years ago, that was one of the reasons I chose to take a step back from Facebook.
My reappearance was innocent enough. I realized a few family members didn't use Instagram so I linked Favorite's Facebook profile in order to force post pictures from Instagram. After a week or two, I realized I was missing the comments on those pictures, so I would occasionally log in to read those. While I was there, it happen that my mom or one of my SILs was on chat so we'd talk for a few minutes.
Eventually I was reading through the newsfeed regularly, participating in a constant chat stream with several of the teachers from my school and occasionally commenting on a few of the things that caught my interest. I would gripe to Favorite about the articles I found frustrating and found myself discontent with people who posted information I found to be narrow...or worse yet, I began to feel some posts that were likely innocent markers of that person's emotional state were personal attacks toward me and mentally began to hold them accountable for their, admittedly innocent, action.
Here's where it gets even stranger: outside of Facebook, I don't care. Your beliefs about my personality, your personal preference on breastfeeding or recent weight loss are really none of my business. (I'd prefer to know your individual stance on vaccinations so I can decide whether or not to keep my kid away from yours, but again, that's your choice.) I am totally open to conversations about Common Core, World Vision, Christianity or personal problems, but I don't feel Facebook promotes real conversation. Sure, social media is supposed to help us all become more social. But I don't know that we should give that type of fragmented exchange the same weight we give to a fluid conversation. It's a whole lot easier to part and parcel someone else from behind a computer screen than it is to do it face-to-face.
There are a lot of things I enjoy about social media. I love seeing pictures from old classmates. I like being on the periphery of most conversations--basically to feel like I am a part. Plus, it's nice to know when important things go down in the lives of old friends (or family members)--like in the case of my high school best friend's dad who went through a lung transplant recently. Without access to Facebook, I missed most of that stuff. And I felt a little cut off from people I actually saw on a regular basis. (Mostly because the conversation had started and ended on Facebook...usually the night before.)
But if I weigh that against the ill feelings and the lack of real exchange with another human being? Facebook doesn't even come close. I'm trying to decide if I'll keep force posting from Instagram. For now, I think I've decided I will. There aren't many comments on Facebook anyway, and Favorite, who doesn't have Instagram, can still see, too. If I'm tempted, knowing what I know about how I'm impacted by Facebook, then I'm just not thinking clearly.
After all, who needs a reason to dislike people they know in real life?