Two months without Facebook
It's been about two months since I deactivated my Facebook account. That's an entire summer with no viable outlet to share my beach bod selfies. It's been a long two months.
So the plan was to get off of Facebook, stop checking my phone all the time and focus instead on the blog and vlog. Get back to the fun old days of sharing content on my own platform, like I used to do back before Humzoo. I was going to rely on occasional email updates to let people know about new stuff.
It's been an interesting experiment, but it's clear that there were a number of problems with my plan. For starters, I have spent the summer editing the short film 'Fifteen to Curtain,' which I filmed at the end of spring. It premieres on August 4, and it occupies a lot of time I would otherwise like to spend blogging and vlogging.
Another totally predictable problem is that I set up my home page to require a feature photo to be posted with each blog. This means I can't just open up an editor, type out a quick blog and move on. I have to also draw a picture or take a relevant photo that works as a good cover on the home page. Like, for this blog, I have no idea what I will do for a cover photo. But I'm typing anyway.
And then there's the age old question: if a blog posts in the middle of a forest, and nobody's around, will anyone read it? Well, no. No, Dave, they won't. I mean, if I posted blogs like everyday, then maybe I could build momentum. But hello. That's not going to happen.
So then what.
I think there are a couple things to try. For starters, I should redesign my home page to be more like a feed of the latest blogs. And if there's not a photo with a blog, FINE. The world won't spiral into a dark oblivion of doom and overwhelming misery. But I need to remove that barrier to entry so that it's easier to just start writing.
And Facebook. Ugh. What to do about Facebook. I guess I could start with getting to the promise of the premise, the reason I started writing this blog anyway. Let's insert a heading.
Life without Facebook
The summer without Facebook has been interesting, and totally predictable. At first, deactivating my account and removing the app from my phone was extremely liberating. It felt great. It was the right thing to do. This is how I was going to live my life.
I left Facebook right before my trip to Utah with Mia. My thought is that it would help me be in the moment on the trip. Spend more time with my daughter and less time with my phone. I had been growing increasingly frustrated with Facebook (as a company) for a number of reasons anyway, so it wasn't a tough choice.
At first, I kept reaching for my phone. I kind of replaced my visits to Facebook with visits to my staple daily websites, but you can only visit cubs.com so often. Happily, the urge to grab my phone every time I had two seconds of inactivity gradually subsided.
But as nice as it was to focus on the trip, I did miss documenting and sharing it. I took photos and wrote a blog about it, but I didn't post that until after the fact. I missed the aspect of posting about things while they happen. This has become such a staple of modern life that I hadn't really foreseen how odd it would feel to post about the trip until after it was over.
Wow, totally rambling here. Sorry. Anyway.
So for the first several weeks, being off of Facebook was nice, like a vacation. I felt more compelled to engage people in conversation in person, because I had no idea what was happening with them otherwise. But this happened probably more in my head than in reality.
And like with actual vacations, I started to miss home.
After a month or so, I started realizing that I was completely oblivious about major life events of people I cared about. And the realization set in that I was basically making a conscious decision to remain disconnected.
And in the middle of summer, the best way I can describe my Facebook hiatus is to compare it to an isolating winter, stuck in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.
It's weird, because there's a lot of baggage with Facebook. I am convinced that a better solution will someday exist. And if I knew what it was, I would build it. But for now, it's what we have.
But before I reactivate my account, I wanted to document the way it felt to be offline for so long, so that next time I want to deactivate my account (likely within an hour from rejoining), I can remind myself what it's like.
So, Future Dave, here are some things to remember before deactivating your Facebook account, in a convenient bullet point list:
- For the first day, it'll feel great. People will applaud your decision; you will be a brave trailblazer.
- On day two, Ty will post a sarcastic post about your absence that you won't see.
- Your wife will kindly keep you in the loop for awhile, but then she will be annoyed that you're not there anymore to post cute photos of her.
- On day three, you will be alone. That "just ok" photo you took on your bike ride? You won't have anywhere to post it. Nobody will ever see it. Your kids might see it someday after you die and they're cleaning out your stuff, but really they'll probably just auction off your computer stuff to a stranger who will reformat the hard drives and use them to store their digitized VHS collection.
- Instagram isn't very good.
- Take more photos of your cute wife.
- It's hard to shamelessly promote yourself without social media. I mean, your dog loves the constant updates. But there's a ceiling to that relationship.
- You used to be a trailblazer, but now people find it irritating that you don't know about the major thing they posted that everyone else knows about. And you'll just miss stuff.
- There is value in being on the receiving end of other people's shameless self promotions. There is. It's hard to see sometimes, but there is.
- You will miss out on real-life events and opportunities.
- You will not miss the political echo chamber that is social media.
- You won't have the motivation to blog about your life and create a meaningful record of the things that you will want to look back on later if you don't also try to share it with your online friends.
So anyway, this has been an interesting experiment. But it's clear that some things need to change so that I have motivation to keep this up. But that's ok. I really do value having my own website where I can share what's going on and that can serve as a diary of sorts to look back on later in life.