Breaking up with ‘friendly’ Facebook

I am writing to tell you that it is time we break up. I’ve
thought long and hard about this and it is the right thing to do.
We need to go our separate ways.
Dear Facebook,

I am writing to tell you that it is time we break up. I’ve thought long and hard about this and it is the right thing to do. We need to go our separate ways.

This may come as a shock to you, because on the surface I didn’t let on that anything was wrong. But you are all about appearances anyway, so I am sure you can understand. You probably won’t miss me much anyway ’cause we never really see each other. But, since we’ve spent so much time together these past few years, countless hours really, I feel obligated to explain what went wrong with our relationship and why I am leaving you.

First of all, you and I originally got together with the idea that you were my ticket to new and better relationships. Your qualities were heralded by everyone it seemed; and the more my friends talked about you and how much fun it was to be with you, the more my curiosity grew. I checked you out for a while, looking over the shoulders of my other friends.

I hated to admit it, but, from a distance … you looked good. I saw in you what seemed to be attractive qualities, and I imagined how being with you could change my life. Interestingly, you’re not even my type. I traditionally don’t go for techy types, but something in me was inexplicably drawn to you. Everyone talked about you as if you were so special.

And you were. Even though I didn’t want to admit it, I was starting to see it myself. You were good with people, you were fun, interesting, complex, yet simple and always available for me. You offered means to renew old relationships and to begin new ones. You were the way to a new togetherness. Enamored with your powers, I began to entertain the idea that you were exactly the relationship I had been looking for. Against my better judgment, I finally broke down and said yes. As soon as I let you into my life, the good times started rolling. Every day you connected me with another friend from the past that I never could have found without you. You let me see their pictures, chat with them, and rehash old times.

The opportunities you provided satisfied a deep down streak of curiosity I really didn’t know I had. It was a fun frenzy for a while and although I knew we were moving way too fast, I couldn’t help myself. It felt like everything was so good, so pleasing.

Even though I sensed red flags early on – like you wanted to know too much about me, you interrupted my daily chores, and you constantly nagged me to spend more time with you, I still obliged you because I was infatuated with you. I let my guard down and let you in. And you really took me for a ride. Soon, I was so into you that I neglected other very important relationships and responsibilities in my life. Even when my back hurt from sitting in the office chair for hours, or I was so tired that my eyes hurt, I somehow couldn’t pull away from you, turn off the lights and go to sleep.

My obsession with you was turning into an unhealthy attraction. You gave me access to so many people’s lives that it was hard to recognize something was wrong at first.

There were constant reminders of you every hour with the newly posted pictures, e-mails, and status updates, which all created a compelling sense of urgency to get online and follow, browse, comment, review and “like” them. Before I knew it I found myself spending hours looking through hundreds of profiles and photos of people I barely know, and their friends, and their friends, and their friends. What began as innocent curiosity quickly developed into snooping, and then into full blown prying. Granted these “friends” put their lives on display for me to pry into, but honestly, it was really none of my business. And it wasn’t my life. It was theirs.

This connection with you also brought out some weird insecurities in me that I thought I had gotten over in high school. With access to so many “friends” I found myself comparing my life with theirs, and then wondering why everyone else’s pictures and profiles were so much more exciting than mine. I started to feel bad that I wasn’t as successful, pretty, organized, social, skinny, creative, domestic, professional and mobile as my friends … and their friends. I started to grow jealous and insecure. I totally lost myself in you and for a while didn’t even recognize myself. I felt compelled to compete with your other friends and post more pictures, show what I got, update my profile and keep my status fresh.

I am disgusted at who I became and how much time I was spending on you. Especially disgusting was not getting anything in return. You just sat by and watched silently. This really made me fall out of “Like” with you. I then understood that I was wasting way too much time on our relationship. Oh, sure, there were nice conversations here and there, and many data dumps of information about people that seemed satisfying at the time, but none of it really changed my life for the better. And worse, my relationship with you hasn’t changed anyone else’s life for the better either.

Do I really have anything to show for all the time I have spent with you? Was I getting anything of value in return? The answer I soon realized is emphatically “No.” I was actually worse off for having been with you. And I just can’t bear to waste any more of my precious time on you.

I am sure that leaving you will be hard at first. After all, you have become such a part of mainstream society, it’s almost a stigma if you aren’t “With Facebook.” I’ve heard it and I’ve said it. “Are you on Facebook? … Oh good, I will friend you.” Or the more awkward “Are you on Facebook? … Oh, really? Why not? Oh well I guess that’s OK … if you’re happy that way.” As if people have to offer their condolences for that area of lack. But I don’t care anymore. Living life without you is the only way I will get back to being me, the real me. The me that’s confident, content and alive. And I know I can do it without you. I have true friends that really do love me and actually spend time with me.

So this is it. It’s over. Goodbye, Facebook. You are not my friend anymore.

P.S. No, even though we’re broken up we cannot “still be friends” … so don’t even ask.

Jennifer Langdon is married with three children and has lived in Gilroy for 10 years. She attends Gavilan College and works part time for Finish Line Design, her husband’s residential remodeling company.