I needed a break. The chatter, the noise and the anger simply became an enormous distraction and irritant. So, I took the bold step of deactivating my business and personal Facebook accounts. I did this nearly two months ago and much to my surprise, I really haven’t missed it. While I now have to return to using an old-fashioned thing called the calendar to store friends’ birthdays that’s really the biggest burden I’ve experienced since my digital departure. I must confess that I feel a slight twinge of superiority when I reveal that I haven’t seen the highly “liked” postings that friends chat about. Again, I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.
While I haven’t disconnected from other social media channels, I visit them less frequently and primarily just for business purposes. I find there is a cap to how much hostility I wish to absorb, and I can find enough of that on CNN where social media attacks are reported relieving me of the responsibility of seeing them for myself.
In a recent appearance before students at Stanford University, Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s former Vice President of User Growth, confided from the stage that Facebook has contributed to a lack of discourse, an increase in misinformation and in general is “destroying” how society functions. He, too, no longer uses Facebook.
That’s quite a bold accusation coming from someone speaking live and in person rather than in 140 characters. And he did so in a respectful tone and without a single hashtag. I believe one could even describe his appearance as a conversation – it was thoughtful and included complete sentences.
What’s missing because of social media is an emphasis on critical thinking, no resistance from knee-jerk reactions based on innuendo rather than fact, along with a diminishing display of kindness. It feels like everyone is angry, accusatory and ready to say and believe the very worst about each other. Certainly, Facebook includes vast connectivity, humor and a myriad of other positive elements. But the volume got to be too much for me and my new best friend, Chamath. I can find what I need to know in the quiet depth of a newspaper. Or I can actually interact with another human over lunch or a glass of wine.
My days are noticeably more productive and there is a different and more delightful element of calm in the office. I may never be able to face a return to Facebook.