Category Archives: Mental Health

Dear Facebook, it’s not you; it’s me.

Dear Facebook

In my journey to achieve the best health of my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to stop caring so much about what other people think. If I’m serious about challenging the status quo and living life on my terms, it’s time to stop feeling the need to justify my actions. I’m doing what’s right for me and for my family, and their opinion is really the only opinion that matters. Certain social networks make it a little too easy to feel the need to justify everything.

I am a little obsessed with Facebook. It’s awesome to be able to keep in touch with all my friends and family who life halfway across the world. But a little while ago, I came to the realization that I was using Facebook to justify my actions and choices to the world. And that’s neither healthy  nor productive. So, I decided to break up with Facebook. But we can still be friends. Here’s what I had to say to Facebook about why I was ending our too-close-for-comfort relationship.

Dear Facebook,

I’m breaking up with you.  But we can still be friends.

It’s not you, it’s me.

See, you’r e really wonderful.  You hear me out anytime I want to complain.  You make my “friends” “like” me.  And you make me look good, both inside and out, most of the time.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t want to spend my life being dependent on an outside (human? Robotic?) source to feel good about myself.

Facebook, you have been good to me in many ways.  You have helped me find long lost friends who I thought I’d never “see” again.  You’ve helped me connect with my extended family, who, I’m afraid to say, I don’t know if/when I’ll get to see again.  And sometimes, you’ve helped me not feel so lonely.

But… these long lost friends that I’d never see again… well… I still haven’t really “seen” most of them.  The way you’ve helped me not feel so lonely…  it’s completely artificial.  I’m still lonely as hell.  ‘Cause you know what,  having 300+ friends on Facebook means that I simply have come into contact with 300+ people.  But really, who among these 300+ friends is really what I would call a FRIEND rather than an acquaintance?  I can count my true, close friends – the ones who I’ll share everything with, the ones who really know me and who I am, what I believe – in less than the fingers of one hand.

See, you’ve created this artificial world that I have been using as a crutch for way too long.  It’s time to go out and find some real friends.  Or not.  Perhaps this is my problem.  I’m trying to “find” friends.  And perhaps, just like romantic love, rare are the instances where an arranged relationship is highly successful and mutual.

But I digress.  There’s another reason it’s time for me to let you go, Facebook.  I wish I could say you make me a better person.  But you don’t.  You just create another vehicle for me to feel like I have to prove myself to the world, to justify my choices and my life.  And really, I don’t.  Those who are my real friends and love me for who I am need no explanation, and those who need an explanation don’t deserve one.  Furthermore, those who really want to be my true friends will take the time to make a phone call, send a personal e-mail, or plan a visit (this last one is key).  Facebook, you’ve created an “easy way for people to stay in touch,” and this is precisely the problem – we now have passive “friendships,” we just wait for people to share their thoughts and struggles instead of taking a true, human interest in what they’re up to.  And I, for one, am sick of it.  I want friends who think I’m worth five minutes of their time for a one-to-one interaction instead of waiting around to see what I’ll say to the rest of the world.  It’s time for a change.

So, dear Facebook, I can’t shoo you away from my life completely.  We have too many friends in common, and this would make things very awkward for them.  So, I’ll allow you into my life, but only as an acquaintance (like those 300+ friends).  Let’s see each other once a week to begin, and only check things out when absolutely necessary.  Then let’s move it to once a month… until we kind of forget about each other all together, perhaps.  I’ll still hang out at some of our common groups.  But I no longer feel the need to use you to prove myself.

I have also come to the realization that I’ve been saying something for so long, and then, via Facebook, I’m going against my own conviction: that those who have not asked for your opinion don’t want to hear it.  I’m so good at biding this in conversation, yet here I come to Facebook speaking my mind and giving my opinions to people I barely know, and for what?  If they haven’t asked my opinion, they’re not interested in it.

So our very “close relationship,” dear Facebook, has to end.  I’m going to use you to stay in touch with my extended family, spread all over the world, and post some photos so they can at least “see” me in a way, and know how my little family is doing.  But I think this whole “what’s on my mind” and status business has gotta go.  Do we want to know what’s on our friends’ minds?  Really?  Let’s call each other.  Do we want to know our friends’ opinions on something (out of curiosity rather than as an excuse to judge them?)  Let’s deliberately ask for it.  Do we want to call someone out on something they’ve done wrong?  Let’s have the guts to say it to that person’s face.  Do we want to praise someone for something good they’ve done?  Let’s send them a letter.  Oh, it’s expensive?  When’s the last time you spent $20 on an impulse purchase?  $1.15 won’t kill you.

I’m looking to really “speak” to people, not use an electronic means to say random things that maybe some of the people who might one day call me friend might press a button to “like.”  I’ll be looking to speak to real friends when I need a real listening ear from now on.

Good bye, Facebook, and no hard feelings.  We can still be friends.

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I will continue to use Facebook to share my articles and to promote my business. But I will spend less time perusing people’s statuses and sharing things on my personal page. To that end, I’ve installed the Chrome extension “Newsfeed Eradicator for Facebook,” which keeps me more productive and a little less inclined to waste time online. It’s worth checking out – and it’s free.

How do you use Facebook? Do you think you are using it to justify your choices to the world?