I recently read an article by Nat Duncan about deactivating her Facebook account because it made her feel lonely. She even went as far as calling it 'insidious and sect-like'.
She is brave, criticising a social media platform that has a gazillion users.
I myself had a love-hate relationship with Facebook. When I deactivated years ago and told close friends that I was, along with the reasons why, they all completely understood. Some of them even seemed a little wistful, like they wished they could deactivate. For them though, there were too many other reasons not to. Or they just felt they couldn't. Maybe it is sect-like after all.
Apart from not being very good at self-regulation and being tired of disappearing into the Facebook time-vacuum, deactivating was my feeble attempt at being cool and different. I'm not cool, or different, but I do like saying "I don't have Facebook" and leaving the person who asked wondering why.
Secondly, I didn't like the feeling of discovering that someone I thought I knew had views that were the polar opposite to mine. I'm not just talking about differences of opinion, I'm talking about deal-breakers, such as, for example, learning that they are a white supremacist. Then having to go through the awkwardness of 'un-friending' them. Some people you might know in real-life are virtually unrecognisable in their Facebook lives.
The final straw came when I was subjected to some rather vitriolic comments by an acquaintance for, of all things, my choice in telly. I happened to mention a show I was watching in one status update, only to have her express her absolute disgust about the fact that I watched it.
Now, you can say what you want about me, but I reckon I am quite the discerning viewer.
I watch SBS and the ABC. I would choose 'The 7:30 Report' over 'A Current Affair' any day. I love Danish Noir. I like to mix up it though, with a little bit of 'reality' now and again, and I'm a sucker for dating shows, especially the fabulous Chinese phenomenon 'If You are the One'.
So she kind of hurt my feelings.
As much as I love my true friends and family and reading about all their adventures, I didn't feel the same way about Facebook acquaintances. I quickly tired of reading about so-and-so's broken toe, the exact colour the toe turned, the dimensions of the swelling -- all accompanied by a photo.
I became tired of cryptic status updates that cried out for friends to ask what was wrong.
I was sick of seeing photos of other people in the Maldives eating exotic fruit while I was stuck in the staff lounge at work eating a soggy sandwich.
It really made me think about what Facebook was adding to my life and, in the end, the negatives far outweighed the positives.
Despite my dissatisfaction and my criticisms, I'm only human. I have to tell myself that I'm not really missing anything, my real friends can see me or speak to me any time they want. I'm contactable, I have a phone.
My own case of FOMO leads me to check in on Facebook every six months or so, do a quick reconnoitre, and remember why I deactivated in the first place. Then I go through the motions of the incredulous "are you sure you really want to leave" messages from Facebook and their 'helpful' responses to reasons I give for leaving, in a last ditch effort to keep me.
I also recently activated a Twitter account that I've had for seven years, but didn't know how to use. I am committed to trying to make it work and I quite like the idea of Twitter. It's short and sharp. I like to keep on top of the news. Having 'followers' (all eight of them) makes me feel omnipotent.
Just don't use it to criticise my choice in telly.