Tuesday, December 1, 2015

On Quitting Facebook (or not)

I know there are many, many people who have quit FB, and have never looked back. But, I love FB.  (an unbiased observer might say that I was addicted. Yikes.) I never thought I'd consider quitting.

But, in the wake of the Paris shootings, I really did.

My newsfeed became a battle ground of vitriolic, opposing opinions. And no matter what my opinion on Paris or refugees, I felt I was being shouted at from all directions.

All shouting. No listening. Self-righteous, pompous noise for the sake of having a voice.

No one was listening. No one was being heard.

At least, no one was listening to any positions that didn't correspond with their own.

It reminded me of all the negative aspects of a debate that I don't appreciate.

I loved our debate classes. They've helped my writing become more tailored and logical (I think). They've helped our marriage, because they taught us to listen better.

But, the negative aspect of a debate is that you often argue a point of view you totally don't agree with, just because that is the subject that was pulled from the hat. And your team was chosen to defend or refute that random position. You play the devil's advocate in order to win.

In debate, the person to convince is the adjudicator. The "government" position bears the responsibility of proof, of supporting the motion. To win, the opposition only has to poke enough holes in the government's arguments.

In debate, the opposing positions are never persuaded to the opposite point of view. Each side entrenches themselves further into their own way of thinking. Each sides attempts to come up with more and more arguments to discredit their opposition. Each side tries to assemble more and more facts to support their own position.

In debate, the listening is only to poke holes in the opponent's arguments. In debate, the listening is in order to answer. In debate, the goal is not understanding, but winning.

But, life isn't a debate. And neither is my FB feed. Or, at least, I have no desire for it to be. Especially since no listening or persuasion is happening. Just further entrenching and estrangement.

It's not that I want to surround myself only with "yes" men. (I don't) It's not that I don't want my thinking challenged. (I do) I love reading articles that make me think.

The opposing views on refugees didn't change my mind-they just gave me a headache and a heartache. The opposing views didn't show me a path forward, they just showed me where the battle lines had been drawn.

It is so very soul wearying.

I have no control over what other people post on FB. I do have control over what I see.

Which is why I seriously considered deactivating my FB account.

The two things holding me back are the social and business aspects of FB. I use FB to promote She Plans Dinner by sharing tips and photos of the recipes. I use FB to interact with and of keep abreast of the news of my family and friends. For those two reasons, I don't want to leave FB.

So, what is my path forward?

-I took a few days completely off FB the weekend we left for Texas. Surprise-surprise, the online world moved on without me. That was bittersweet. FOMO is a real thing. But, so also is the reality that real life happens offline too.

-I want to use FB to enhance my real life relationships. This means less mindless scrolling, and more interacting. Less nosing about other's pages, and more interaction.

-In that spirit of real interacting, I pared down my friends' list. If there was someone in that list that I was never interacting with, I took them off. Because my goal is not to amass hundreds of "friends", my goal is to build relationships. I am by nature a nosey person, and FB is great for that. But, if all I was doing was using FB to be nosey about you, like a cyber peeping-Tom, it was time to say goodbye.

-I also "hid" some friends who I want to still be friends with, but who are shouting too loud right now. By hiding them, I can still go to their page and interact, we can still be friends, but I can also give my soul a break from the noise.

-I took FB off my iPad as soon as we got home from vacation. So, it has only been like 48 hours, but it has been good. Having FB on my iPad made it too accessible. I was scrolling instead of interacting with my family. It was bad. It is embarrassing for me to see how often I've automatically powered up my iPad to get on FB these past two days-even though it is no longer on there. It is my knee jerk reaction whenever I have a minute (or 10) to spare. That needed to be corrected.

-I'm aiming for more newsy and friendship and laughter. Less comparing, less polarizing. I want to put more social (and less political) into social media.

Because there are often better ways to make my voice heard. And better ways to listen. And they usually happen face to face-and not in a debate.

I want to be a solution to these issues I'm seeing, not adding more fuel to the flame.

How about you? How do you handle the more negative aspects of social media?