So the other day I deleted the Facebook app from my smart phone (as the title might suggest). I had finally gotten to the point where my eyes were exhausted and bloodshot from staring too long at the blue-boxed platform that keeps me up-to-date with “everything in the entire world.” My ‘finger swipe refresh’ was doing just the opposite – with little updates coming through, every other second of the swipe, I was not refreshed. I felt depressed, guiltier and guiltier as I realized I was addicted to status updates and my Facebook app.
When there was an update it was a friend that had finally found true love, was engaged, married, bought a puppy, loved their job, was having a tropical vacation and/or was having a baby (maybe you’ve seen this in your status feeds). There is a phenomenon known as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), the idea that we may be missing out on something awesome, new, and trendy while our friends are enjoying it. I also think there is a KUWTJ (Keeping Up With The Joneses) phenomenon that happens on Facebook. That is to say that we constantly compare ourselves against our Facebook friends as a benchmark for social class, power, affluence and approval (like!). To fail to "Keep Up With The Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority – are we actually measuring up to our peers. If you’re not married by 30, or enjoying your job, or getting a tan – maybe you just aren’t cut out for this thing called life. In short, we feel like failures if we’re not having as much fun or success as our friends on Facebook.
So there I was – I woke up one day, exhausted of the Facebook rat race and said, “I think I’m going to delete my Facebook App.” I got the apps shaking with an ‘x’ over each one, and hovered my finger over the blue ‘f.’ Good bye old friend! Believe it or not, there was a true sense of panic – how was I going to keep up-to-date, how was I going to know what was going on, how would I share with others what I was doing? As if I couldn’t simply re-download the app if it ever go to that point. I had to verbally say to myself, “It’s okay – we’re just experimenting – if you need to, you can always redownload.” It was scary to think how much a simple app held that much power over me. But isn’t that true for many of us Millennials? Sure we joke about it, but to actually take it away and discipline yourself to not go on to Facebook at least 25 times a day (or more) is actually hard. It feels like you’re in detox or withdrawal – I would assume much like any other addiction or drug.
Some Millennials have suggested that “Facebook is so last year (or even decade)” as new, “trendier” apps like Instagram, Snapchat and others have come out. They suggest they “really don’t check or post to Facebook that often anymore.” However, as a social experiment I like to walk around (NYC, Vermont, US, doesn’t matter) and look quickly at what app people are in on their phone (#creeper) and lo and behold, hands down, it is usually always Facebook. You cannot argue that Facebook is the largest and perhaps most socially entertaining and updating social media still to this day.
A couple things I did allow myself: I was allowed to go on Facebook when near a computer, but that I would monitor how many times a day (pretty much 3-4 times a day so far). I also allowed the use of other, less-invasive platforms still on my phone: Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I did this because they are nowhere near as powerful, KUWTJ as Facebook. They still allow me to connect, learn and be updated about the world.
In conclusion, I will admit this is an experiment for me. I don’t know if I will never download the app again. I know it has opened the door to less anxiety, less eye strain, and more appreciation for the things around me (in the physical world). You keep up with yourself. You set the social standard where you need to be at, at the moment in your life where you’re at - not 1,485 friends.
The other day I ordered a paper subscription to the New York Times Weekend edition as I also enjoyed the Facebook app as a means of news and information – I thought I might try reading paper again.