I’ve taken myself off Facebook and twitter, not that hardly anyone would notice. Except of course, me, which was the point.
I have shut the door to the party. Once, when I was a teenager, my mother and I were driving into Hartford and we passed by the huge brick Aetna building, I said to her: “I would like to live there so that I could have a party in this part—“ I indicated the vast right-hand wing, “but my room would be here—“ I indicated the equally vast left hand-wing “so I could be alone.” Naturally, she looked at me oddly. But what I was trying to say was that I love people and I love doing things to make them happy, but I find them overwhelming.
So that’s that. Despite FB telling me that so-and-so really misses hearing from me (doubt it) I’m sticking to my decision. Fact is, I don’t miss the party. I do wonder slightly if I am like the ostrich, but then again, I do my bit in my own way, so I feel okay about that.
Interestingly, E.B. White felt the same way about the effect of television: “When I was a child,” he wrote in One Man’s Meat, his book of essays published in 1938, “people simply looked about them and were moderately happy. Nowadays they peer across the seven seas, bury themselves waist deep in tidings, and by and large what they see and hear makes them unutterably sad.”
There is a man I first met through my husband, who immediately embraced me with the same trust and love that embodies his friendship with Richie. Several times a year he sends gifts—wine, fresh fruit from Florida, chocolates, jams and jellies. He always ‘likes’ what I say on Facebook, and he always adds something supportive.
He has not had a charmed life. He was sent to Vietnam to fight and there he witnessed, first hand, the horrors of that war. But it didn’t harden him, rather the opposite. His life experience in Vietnam gave him the opportunity of turning mean and cynical, but instead he chose another way. Knowing at some deep level that to hate, was to hate oneself, he turned to humanity, having witnessed inhumanity.
He lives his life to connect to others with love and he does it perfectly. He—and the ones like him—the ones who choose love over hate, trust over fear, compassion over cruelty, they are the great ones.
At first I felt Facebook was a way to unproductively clutter up my life. Later, when I started this blog, I thought it was a way to let people know when I’ve posted. Then, for a brief heady moment, I felt it was a community.
Now, I have to admit, I feel like it is a competition. Honestly, I never feel better after reading my FB news feed. I feel inadequate. Why am I not on vacation in the Lesser Antilles? An old college friend has a big house and a vacation house? Everyone seems to be having much more fun than I am.
These are not supportive-of-my-friends thoughts. These are envious thoughts. I don’t feel like I’m staying in touch when I read these posts; I feel like I’m missing out.
After I browse through FB, invariably I feel I must defend my life to myself, quiet as it is. This is what I do: I work in my garden, I write every morning. I swim when it’s hot out. I run errands, I make dinner, I read and do crafts. That’s about it. I don’t have a stressful job, I love my husband, I don’t go out to dinner much. I don’t even go on vacation usually. But reading my FB feed makes me feel bad about this.
I want to be wanted. I think most people do. So out of insecurity, we tend to accentuate the positive and FB as a platform exploits that. No one ever posts about the non-glam side of existence: “Plucked out chin hair number ten—why am I growing a beard after menopause?”
FB puts a lot of pressure on us to “have a great time all the time.” To heck with that, I say. For the record, I’m not happy all the time—far from it—and I’m wicked out of shape right now, and I do have chin hairs until I pluck them out (this may be news to my husband—sorry, sweetie!) But I’m also kind and smart and lucky—oh so lucky—and so yes, worth filling up space. Maybe even Facebook space.