I've been trying hard not to post about having deactivated my Facebook account, and then I read the following in the NYTimes magazine, "When a computer chimes [...] with a new message, the brain starts anticipating the neurological “pleasure” [...]. That expectation, if unsatisfied, can build until you find yourself moved to distraction by the thought of an e-mail sitting there unread — even if you know, rationally, it’s most likely not important." (click here for entire article)
Here was depressing confirmation that I had become a bona fide, diagnosable, rat-seeking-chocolate-at-the-end-of-the-maze facebook junkie. Luckily, at least for my own anti-zeitgeist peace of mind, I'd canceled Facebook a full two weeks before that article was published.
The time had simply come.
Among other cues I couldn't resist telling me to "get out" were my mind wandering off to Facebook instead of into the new novel I was writing, wondering how many "likes" a particular post had received since the last fifteen minutes I checked, and my 5 y.o. daughter presenting me with her artwork and asking me to post it on my Wall.
Also, my list of friends had grown beyond the personal acquaintances with whom I actually didn't mind sharing my children's art and antics. I'm not nutty about my children being exposed on social media--we live after all in an ihouse--but there was something unsettling about absolutely anyone seeing a rant about my husband, my daughter's depiction of me as a conquered witch, or my 3 y.o. son in full drag.
I also started to fear that I had crossed a line, posting the absolute mundane. I once shared an entire melodrama about a toothache and subsequent root canal. I'd found the experience to be an ordeal, but seriously, did I want to read about other people's root canals, probiotic relief, or failed New Year's resolution? I mean how stupendously banal. Conversely, I was uncomfortable that so many "friends" didn't share their lives on Facebook. I mean, if you know about my root canal, how come I didn't know about your dental health? Until - someone would post about their children or Jesus or pets and I'd think: Really, this you post on FB?
There were benefits. I was able to keep in touch with childhood friends and JYA buddies who would have been (had been) long lost to time. I particularly liked good news about people's accomplishments, absurd kids' anecdotes, and a thread about my Trinidadian village. I didn't have to make expensive phone calls to the Caribbean to get in touch with my family. I could tell 200 hundred people about my book.
And still, I had to get off. The feeling of being overexposed lodged under my flesh and couldn't be got rid of. I read about the brief reign of the cyberflaneur: the detached, online observer who sampled the wealth of the web with cool anonymity. I like to think that this is how I had primarily used the web pre-FB, trolling especially foreign news-sites like The Guardian and the Trinidad Express, gathering.
I'd initially resisted joining Facebook, and then finally had. Over two years, as I suppose the program algorithmithized me and brought me more of the internet through its one interface, I rarely visited other sites, going mostly Gawker and NYMag, but always clicking back to Facebook. I eventually became such convert I proselytized, exhorting holdouts to give Facebook a try.
My homepage remained the NYTimes but for a while I seriously thought, well, maybe Safari should just open up to Facebook.
After so much thought, I decided to deactivate without too much thought; and once the intent became permanent, I was desperate to get off. Except, I felt that I needed to tell Facebook I was leaving. This most ridiculous part actually wasn't so crazy. I wanted to keep my Victoria Brown Author page. All the friends here were supporters of my work. Here I could post about my novel, Minding Ben, my current work, related stories, and writing inspiration without craving feedback. Sharing the mundane here would be inappropriate. I posted that I could still be reached via Minding Ben if anyone cared to "like" me. At first I thought I'd keep the notice for a few days, but as the day wore on I realized I had checked at least a dozen times to see the responses I had received to my post about leaving facebook. I had to admit the depth of the pathology--chocolate at the end of the maze; the last chocolate! I killed it. I went in, ignored the final proffered crack telling me "Jess" and "Amy" and "Jeff" would miss me, and hit "deactivate now."
I don't miss being on. I've got my author page, but my book is between hardcover and paperback, and I have to go through the trouble of logging into my husband's account or using his computer. It's just not something I do all the time anymore.
No, instead I tweet @byvictoriabrown. Come follow me.