I’m Quitting Facebook: And the Fantasy of Social Media

I recently deactivated my personal Facebook and I’m in the process of deleting my Twitter.

I’m tired of being a slave.

Not that this route of abstinence is necessary for everyone. I’m sure many can use such social media tools in moderation. But for now, I’m not one of them.

I’ve seen the dire effects of social media on this SmartPhone generation I teach everyday. If my ninth graders are not texting, they’re tweeting. If they’re not tweeting, they’re sharing pics on Instagram. If they’re not Instagramming, they’re liking on Facebook. If they’re not liking on Facebook, they’re Snapchatting. If they’re not snapchatting, they’re sharing their Flappy Bird score. If they’re not sharing their flappy bird score, they’re texting…

And so their virtual world turns, revolving around 3 X 2 inch screen that makes everything, especially relationships, smaller. With a hunched posture and lowered gaze, they bow before their handheld idols all day long.

My drug of choice the past year(s) has been Facebook and Twitter. The little red number that pops over the little blue world has been a confirmation of my social value. The retweet or the favorite has been a welcome endorsement of my public thoughts. None of the satisfaction lasts, and none of it has depth.

I want to try to plant my time and resources into the people that matter most.

Hopefully, twenty years from now my sons will remember a dad who joyfully Hulk Smashed them onto the living room couches during their early childhood. They won’t remember the brief time dad’s witty post on Skinny Jeans went viral.

Hopefully, forty years from now my wife will remember her husband looking into her eyes before bed every night and saying with focused intensity “I love you.” She won’t remember all the funny YouTube cat videos I showed her or the times we spent all night gazing into our Iphones.

And I could try to be balanced and nuanced and put boundaries and clear guidelines up as far as my social media use. 1. Only fifteen minutes a day 2. No use right when I get home from work ….. etc. I have in the past. But it’s easier for this dog to return to his vomit than learn new tricks.

The chimera of social media has stunted our relational growth. We’ve swung into the carnival door on the whim of our thumbs and now we measure every real world experience and relationship with the fleeting fantasy of faux social contact. I’ve heard normal ninth grade girls mention they have thousands of Instagram followers. They only personally know a fraction of their followers. They largely have no clue who is viewing or using their pictures for fancy sake.

That is scary.

But that big contrived social media platform affirms their worth.

“It’s not real,”

I told a high school FCA group yesterday about our obsession with social media “relationships.” And those words probably resonated with me more than them. There was a time (like 15 years ago) people met physically for face to face encounters and fellowship. Over tea or barbecue or wiffle ball.

But there’s also a cost involved in that: It’s harder to hide a zit or bad hair day in the flesh.

It’s harder to be inauthentic in the flesh. As a result, it’s easier to be known in the flesh.

And so the unfortunate catch is this: We’ve so controlled our public persona that no one really knows us. Sure, they know the facade we’ve carefully constructed to be seen by others. But they don’t know the hurts, dreams, fears and failures at our soul level. We don’t bare those groanings to an inanimate screen. We only bare those groanings to fellow souls we trust.

And who we trust has gotten narrower and narrower because our social life has been imprisoned within the dull glare of a smart box. And one of our deepest human longings, to be truly known and accepted, has been blurred and manipulated through the lens of a device we control…or controls us. And I know it’s not a handheld issue, but a heart issue at stake here. This is true with anything in life that lords over us.

So I will attempt to break out of the box for a while.

To be a better husband, father, and friend.

To be known, and to know.

Bryan Daniels

*I will still post on this blog irregularly as time permits.

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