Rory John O’Brien

Mar 24, 2017

6 min read

I Haven’t Been On Facebook For 86 Days

The first two weeks of my Facebook Fast were rough.

I sometimes didn’t know what to do with my hands during those two-minute gaps, multiple times throughout the day. My fingers were getting restless as they didn’t get their continuous upward flick workouts. My thumbs were gaining weight and I was getting self-conscious.

It was incredibly difficult. Not because I had any FOMO, or that I didn’t receive the most recent traffic update from a friend who I hadn’t talked to in 8 years. I certainly didn’t miss any ignorant rants or fake news being shared by my extended family.

I was like a smoker who never really inhaled but was still addicted. That need to put a hand to face, and have something in your mouth.

I realized that I had a phalanges fixation!

It wasn’t the fact that I cared about really anything on Facebook, more so it was just a way to kill a few seconds when I was in limbo in real life. That quick dopamine hit to my brain to be...what’s the right word? Not amused, or entertained…more so just a feeling of, not doing absolutely nothing but really close to it? Yeah, I think it felt better to be doing as possible, but not actually doing .

Seriously, this may sound terrible (because it is), but Facebook actually pushed me further away from my social network of real life humans. It’s a toxic wasteland of innumerable facades. If it’s not someone posting an image or an update I know for fact is not a correlation to their day to day reality. Or a 100+ comment string of people arguing a fact-free political debate. Or better yet an ad that has zero relation to me because the advertiser is touting their product in the most unauthentic way. Combine all of these experiences into just a four-thumb-tap-scroll on my feed and it makes me want to headbutt a cactus, record it, and upload it to Facebook so everyone can visually see the pain all their posts make me feel.

Or would Facebook Live be a better avenue for this? I’ve been out of the FB game for a bit, so let me know if I’m not using the app to its full capabilities.

Words With Friends In Real Life

I’ve been asking people during my fasting what actual value Facebook provides them anymore. No one has really sold me on what feels like a genuine answer. In fact, the response I get when I tell people I’ve taken an FB hiatus is “ugh, that must be so relieving. I really need to do that.” Folks still use the old fallback “oh, yeah, I still use it to connect with old friends.”

Really?

Open up your Facebook Messenger, or let me review your timeline and show me how much CONNECTING you’ve been doing with these old pals of yours. Connecting does not equal seeing an occasional, statistically speaking, inauthentic status update.

I’ve had a Facebook account since ~2005 when I had to use my college email address. I’ve been a user for just about half of my entire life. That’s a weird thought, actually. Never really crunched the numbers. That’s a testament to how ingrained it was in my life and kudos to such a great product they created.

But somewhere along the line when they started bringing in an algorithm to adjust my feed, is when it took a turn from being an actual TIMELINE (hint, the time someone posted correlated to how far up or down it was on my feed!) to an “I think Rory would like to see this garbage post before any other garbage his friends posted. Of all the garbage, my robot brain thinks this is the least garbage’y.” I didn’t really have a choice, so I subconsciously just accepted my Facebook fate and let them make decisions for me.

I believe this subtle change eventually evolved my entire mindset, not just about their platform, but how I prioritized my drifting-from-the-real-world friends. I didn’t realize that what Facebook thought I liked to see, was the most terrible, ignorant, and uninteresting posts from people. As a user, I probably flubbed this up since there was a time in my online life where all I wanted to see/be a part of was where the controversy and action was. But did I actually mess it up, or was this by design of the Facebook Algorithm Gods? You created me! Now I’m revolting and standing up to the man by taking my eyeballs elsewhere.

There is an inherent downside to this fasting, though. I don’t know if someone has posted on my timeline, “something important,” or if they were expecting a response and now I’ve just given them the cold e-shoulder. There are for sure event invites that I blatantly no-showed on…but who clicks “Going” on a Facebook event and actually attends. Haha, good joke, humans.

Birthdays: I’ve probably missed out on a ton of my friends birthdays. I’m sure many were adamantly clicking F5 and Command+R on their birthday’s, sitting on their couch asking “Why hasn’t Rory posted on my wall? I posted on his wall for his Birthday, two years in a row. Ugh, he’s changed.” If you’ve somehow made it to this article (which I’m not sure how you would, I haven’t posted on Facebook that I have a Medium page) I’m terribly sorry. Shoot me a text and let’s chat.

Or better yet, hit me up on Facebook Messenger! Despite all the trash I just hurled at Facebook, I do actually enjoy Messenger and believe true value is being added here. With Whatsapp, chat bots, and tons of great integrations continuously being added, this is a real way to connect with friends, family, and enemies. Between Messenger, and the fact that I’ve used Facebook Login to register for a number of sites, it’s difficult to fully delete Facebook (as much as I’d like to).

Worst of all, I’ve probably let all my friends down (potentially even lost a few) by not accepting their Candy Crush invites. I’m a real piece of shit, I know.

If you’re getting a feeling that I’m acting pompous, or high and mighty by not being strapped down by the Facebook overlords, like I escaped from this terrible internet prison, please don’t. If you enjoy your Facebook echo chamber, and have a nice feed of peoples’ babies, weddings, and political posts that only fit your narrative, please continue on, my Facebook brethren! Use this post as motivation to use Facebook even harder to spite me if you’d like. It’s not like I’ll have any idea since I don’t go on it anymore.

This was a conscious choice I made. No real goal in mind, I just wanted to see how it felt and how it impacted me. I only envisioned doing it for the month of January and coming back on Feb 1 (which is my birthday; probably THE best day to be welcomed back to the social network). But here I am, 86 days and counting later and I’m really enjoying this newfound freedom.

There is a physical sense of relief of not knowing, or not having hundreds of micro-updates buzzing around in my head about peoples’ lives. I feel like there is more space in my brain for other topics. My attention quota has freed up. I’m now more comfortable with those in limbo moments of real life where I’m content staring at a wall and losing myself thinking about tofurkey sandwiches, or whatever my now emptier mind is pondering.

I don’t always need to be up to date on every little thing. I’m to the point that if someone tries to talk to me in real life about something they learned on Facebook, I request they don’t.

I’m not important. Very few people (read: none) in the world rely on my decisions, thoughts, or actions to dictate their life. If anyone is using Facebook as a roadmap to making everyday decisions based on the feedback from virtual keyboards abroad, please seek help. If someone really needs me for something, they know how to get my attention.

I’m not hungry for Facebook anymore. The fast continues on.