At the beginning of the summer, I reviewed a book about deleting social media. After a lot of thought, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and pared down my Twitter. I didn’t have a page for my etiquette blog anymore, and I didn’t tweet anything except new essays and book reviews.
Monday, I created new Facebook and Instagram accounts, and I’m not entirely happy about it.
When I left Seattle after college, social media wasn’t really a thing. My Space existed, but I don’t remember using it as much as we all seem to use Facebook and Twitter now. Even texting wasn’t huge, so my friends and I stayed in touch with emails and phone calls.
I know. Phone calls. Without video!
When I closed down my Facebook account about five months after moving to London, I figured it’d be the same as before. Occasional long emails, perhaps a Skype or WhatsApp video call. But it wasn’t. At least not entirely. A few friends did stay in touch that way, responding to my emails, or writing their own. And a couple downloaded WhatsApp (it’s used by pretty much everyone over here, but seems to not have caught on in the US) so I can text with them almost daily.
But from the rest of my friends, I didn’t hear much about what was going on. It made me sad, and I felt cut off, even forgotten.
That’s more than a bit self-centered, I know. But it’s what I was feeling,
And for some friends, it probably rings a bit true. If I’m not in front of them, and I’m not following them online, and they’ve got a lot of other more important shit to deal with, are they really going to settle down to send me a long email when they could be playing with their kids (or the new Spider-Man video game)?
But for others, I’d imagine (and, let’s be real, I’d hope) that it was less a statement about or friendship and more about just not having the energy or time to repeat themselves. As we’ve all gotten so used to sharing so much of our lives with our friends via this one method of social media, it’s pretty easy to forget that there are a couple people out there who haven’t seen the pregnancy announcement or career change update.
Given that, I’ve come to recognize that since Facebook and Instagram are so common, asking for another, separate update from some folks was a bit presumptuous of me. I mean, yes, writing an email doesn’t take that long, but if a person has already told their story on an outlet that I can easily access, is it fair for me to expect they do it all again, just for me?
I still don’t like Facebook – as they say, if you don’t have to pay for a service, it’s probably because you’re the product that’s being sold, and I don’t like being sold. I also don’t have any interest in getting sucked into fights on there again, or in connecting any of my other online life through it. I’m also not going to bring back my etiquette blog page at this point, because a main benefit of that would be using Facebook to advertise it, and I don’t want to give Facebook any of my money.
I do, however, want to know what’s going on with people, and share what’s going on with me. So that means that, at least until there’s an alternative, or everyone leaves at once and starts sending emails again…