Me, I Disconnect From You

My husband is a huge Louis C. K. fan. When it was announced that C.K. would headline the JFL42 Festival taking place in Toronto in September, Greg’s brain near exploded with glee. More so when it was announced that another major act would be comedian Patton Oswald. But then we started looking at the ticketing system. Besides a whole bar code thing that prevents people from selling or passing on tickets to events if they can’t use them, it turns out that the only way to order tickets to JFL42 was via Facebook.

Too bad for me then that I’ve deactivated my Facebook account and have no plans at present to use it again.

I get that the festival organizers are trying to be hip or wired in or something, but the whole thing is incredibly illogical, particularly the part requiring attendees to use a particular social media platform to take part.

Over the past few months, while I’ve still been online in some capacity and still check a pared down Twitter feed every day, I’ve been using social media a lot less. At first, this was so that I could concentrate on getting my book written. Most of my previous writing gigs had required that I be tuned in to the local restaurant scene and it was actually a relief to stop worrying about who was opening what where, and which chefs were leaving to open their own businesses, etc.

But my Facebook account had always been pretty tightly locked down to only include actual friends. I was pretty diligent in keeping work-related stuff from spilling over into that space. Except for the ranting. Facebook was where I’d go to rant, and some friends – granted people who I wasn’t super close with – often didn’t get that I was just letting off steam.

Deactivating my Facebook account was really weird at first. Checking it had become a crutch of procrastination that I replaced with hours of online Mah Jong or Minesweeper. I kept wondering if I was missing something important. Greg assured me that I wasn’t really. But so many people rely on social media these days to share their events and milestones, and never think to pick up the phone or send an email – you hear news collectively now, or not at all.

At about the three week mark I broke down and went back in. I culled about half of the friends who were there – people who never posted or who I never interacted with. Of the people who were left, the people who I enjoyed reading, it became apparent that everyone was just doing exactly what they had been doing before. Yep, there’s more pictures of your kids, and more pictures of her dog, and that other friend who posts a daily picture of what they’re wearing, and the person who posted inspiring messages continued to tell everyone to “live each day to the fullest”… or whatever.

When I was reading Facebook a gazillion times a day, I enjoyed all of this stuff. But now it just seemed to be a lot of same old, same old. Then I started thinking about my own posting habits, looked over my timeline at the rants and the pictures of cute animals, rolled my eyes at my own predictability… and promptly deactivated the account again. This time, likely for good. Nothing I was saying there needed to be said.

Oh, I’ll keep it. I suspect more and more events and organizations will do what JFL42 are doing and will require a Facebook account to purchase tickets. And while I’m not quite ready to sell my soul for a concert ticket just yet, there will eventually be someone I care about more than Louis C.K. and Patton Oswald for whom I will have to break down and use Facebook to buy a ticket (or barcode) to see.

But for now I am resisting.

I am missing friends, of course, and as soon as this book is in the bag, I fully intend to make plans with all my Toronto pals for some time together, face-to-face. But while it’s been quiet and vaguely lonely not “connecting” through Facebook everyday, it’s also been very freeing. I’ve been using Twitter more, which is funny because I resisted Twitter for a long time, but it’s more impersonal. I know it’s open to the world, so I use it for off-hand observations, not so much for personal stuff.

Unfortunately, I can’t stay this disconnected forever. Promoting a book and a new business means I’ll have to use social media to get the word out. I’ll have to come out of my virtual “cabin in the woods” to interact again. But it’s been a lovely break. I accomplished a lot. And I’m feeling refreshed and ready to face new challenges.But I think regular breaks from all types of social media will be part of my life from now on.