Are you familiar with my annual Silent Treatment event?
The Silent Treatment is my hiatus from social media (with a caveat or two) that I’ve been taking each year in August for the past three years.
This year, I decided to leave Facebook for the entire summer. I chose to define summer as July 4 to September 30 with a tentative return to the Book of Faces on October 1.
With August nearly over (August, when did that happen?), I thought now would be a good time to check in and give an update on how the break is going and if I am suffering under the weight of FOMO (fear Of Missing Out).
The short answer is: I’m not. Not suffering, that is. I have no FOMO.
What I am missing: I’m missing the pressure to keep up, non-essential information flooding my brain, and the compulsion to hit the refresh button like some trained monkey looking for treats.
As the summer advances, I have no desire to return to Facebook. In fact, the idea fills me with an overwhelming sense of dread—the dread of adding one more thing to my to-do list (that of checking social media).
A few days before leaving FB, I said good-bye to people I care about, letting them know I would return. I was happy that several friends told me they’d contact me. Only one person has done so—strike that, since I started writing this, two people have. I know I could contact these friends—and I did contact a few of them—but everyone is too busy (scrolling Facebook) to reply, I guess.
What does this say about the friendships we build through social media and our expectations about these friendships? Perhaps I’m just cynical, but social media seems to make true connection difficult. Whenever I talk to my IRL friends about taking a break from social media, they all say the same thing: Facebook allows me to stay in touch with friends and family. While that’s true to a degree, in actuality social media just makes it possible to go broad (Look at me—I have more than 2,000 friends!). There are notable exceptions, of course, but, in general, the connections are superficial.
I’m an introvert. I prefer my friendships to be deep. I know lots of people, and I have many acquaintances, but true friends are few. It’s hard for me to reach out given my hermit-like ways, but I have been pushing past my tendencies and reaching out. I have tried to maintain a thread of connection with several people, but I can’t hold up both sides. Perhaps this is an indication that these people are not my friends.
Maybe I do feel like I’m missing out a bit on camaraderie, but not enough to feed the imperative to check in each day to stay relevant and remembered. This is a case of out of sight, out of mind in action—and I’m okay with that.
I recognize Facebook, in part, as a medium that attempts to assuage our loneliness. Not for Facebook, of course, for FB it’s a marketing and data-gathering machine, but that’s another topic for another article.
I might be one of the lucky few in that I rarely feel lonely. Loneliness is a hallmark of working for one’s self, as a writer, with long hours spent in solitude. It would make sense if I felt overwhelming loneliness, but I don’t. Maybe if I felt lonelier, I’d find it harder to stay away from FB, but I don’t.
Honestly, all I feel is relief.
How do you feel when you use social media, Facebook in particular? Do you use it when lonely? Do you even know why you turn to Facebook? I’m curious to hear your thoughts—do tell!
photo credit: Oscar Keys via Unsplash