Back in January of 2017, I gave away most everything I owned and set out on a “two-suitcase life,” all because of Facebook. (You can read the full story here.) I even reconsidered whether or not should still do the Interactive Deep Dive. It met the criteria of my two-suitcase life–helping others who are striving to make the world better–so it stayed on the calendar.
Later that year, there I was in Austin, Texas directing the Interactive Deep Dive, working with a small team of talented and passionate artists for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It was hard work, even more challenging than I expected. I needed to be at my very best every day, but the fact was, I wasn’t.
You know how, after you leave a club with really loud music, you can’t hear so well? Your ears are ringing and normal sounds are all muffled. Facebook was that noisy club for me. The never ending newsfeed, event invitations, and FB messages all made my ears ring. The cacophony of mundanities, rants, and promotion not only muffled my ability to hear those around me, it also left me irritated with the world at large. It’s embarrassing to say, but there were a more than a few times when I let that irritation affect the way I worked with the Deep Dive team. Finally I decided to take myself off of Facebook.
I did it. I deactivated my Facebook account, and guess what? I got healthier. When challenges arose, I was way better at working with them in productive ways. While the Deep Dive team used Facebook as a way to build their professional presence, it was liberating for me to have stepped off the social media treadmill. I could focus on what mattered to me most: exploring interactive performance with a dedicated, talented, and amazing team. It wasn’t all candy and roses, but it was a darned sight better than how I’d been before.
Now it’s June of 2018. The Deep Dive has been over for a couple of months. I’m back up for air and find myself considering how to reconnect with the people around this country who matter to me, and once again, the question of Facebook is front and center.
Many aspects of Facebook still don’t align with my preferences. I’m not interested in broadcasting my life or promoting myself as a brand. I don’t feel more connected to others by seeing what they had for lunch or reading what they think of the latest news cycle. The quest for “friends,” “likes,” and “comments” is a promotional treadmill that actually irritates me. (It reminds me of the middle school obsession with being popular.)
I’d far rather connect with the people I care about though one-on-one conversations, ideally in person, otherwise by phone, with email as a last resort. I love to share physical space with my friends, to hear the tone of their voices, to feel the real-time rhythm of our communication. I don’t get that on Facebook.
That said, I’m not interested in becoming an isolated hermit, and I know how much people rely on Facebook as a means of communication, so here’s my compromise:
I’ve reactivated my Facebook account
- so people can find me
- so people know how to get in touch with me
- so people can get meaningful news from my life and work
What I won’t be doing on Facebook
- checking my newsfeed (I’ve turned it off)
- responding to event invitations
- using Facebook messenger
How will this all pan out? I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out. For the time being it’s nice to be a little less irritated with the human race, and it feels great to able to hear clearly again.
If you’d like to get in touch, please share, like, and comment.
(Just kidding. You know what to do.)