It has to be said. So here it is.
- I don’t like being that available. I resisted getting a cell phone until after I was a married adult, halfway through college, in 2006. I didn’t text anyone regularly until 2014, and I didn’t get a smart phone until 2015. I have no regrets, and wish I was more of a Luddite. Having my Facebook profile mostly inactive is a way of carving out that autonomy in a hyperconnected world.
- I like being surprised by our in person conversations. When I ask how you’ve been, or answer when you ask, I want there to be that lovely spark of interest and newness to the situation. When I tell you about my compound fracture from having been trampled by an elephant, I would rather you say, “WHAT?!” rather than, “oh yeah, I saw your post.”
- On that note, I miss the realness of more personal communication. I used to hate texting, but frankly, compared to getting a “like” on a social media status, texting feels personal, mindful, and real. I am here for you, I like you, and I think you’re awesome, even if I’m not reading, “reacting to,” or commenting on your social media. Social media relationships are cheap, easy, prolific, and all to easily slide into good or evil flavors of superficiality. Text, call, write a letter, or visit. I want us to be friends, rather than having our frienship being filtered through our online personas.
- Because an online persona is impossible to avoid. Online personas are, admittedly, somewhat necessary. It’s not appropriate to share everything with everyone, and because of this, we develop our online “brand,” either consciously or otherwise. I’d rather know you from what I’ve seen of you when we’re together in person. I’d rather not be preconditioned, for better or worse, by my impressions of your online brand. And I’d rather you see me for me, rather than my brand.
- Because sometimes, I’m creeped out. It has happened on two separate occasions with two separate people–the individual unfriended me, then casually photographed me (not the group type photo you expect to show up on social media), then posted it to Facebook without my knowledge or consent and tagged our mutual friends. Since I’m not in the habit of scrolling the pages of people who’ve unfriended me, the discovery of these came in a roundabout, after the fact way, and was somewhat unsettling both times. People, don’t do this. If you’re unfriendly enough with someone to unfriend them, maybe you aren’t on intimate enough terms with that someone to post photos of them without their knowledge and consent? (Maybe you should always ask?) Just maybe.
- Because social media can create weird little corners of voyeruism and exhibitionism, including, but not limited to, point no. 5. When I realize I’m accustomed to reading the daily update of someone I only sort of know, passively taking in the dramatic narrative of his/ her life without actually interacting with him/ her, that’s just… no. When I realize I am also supplying this for other people, it’s also, just…. NO. See point no. 2.
- Social media makes people weird, depressed, pessimistic about world events, and insecure. Science says so! I have no doubt that you’re the exception. But I’m definitely not.
- I have a love/ hate relationship with attention. I’m a middle child. This sort of dysfunction is my jam. Getting attention is my drug, but going unnoticed and underestimated is my SUPERPOWER. I say that without an ounce of irony. There are many, many advantages to obscurity, and I revel in them. These days, I’m all about playing to my strengths.
- I only have so much time and energy. And I’ve been getting careful about where it goes. Even when Facebook doesn’t take up much time, it can take a lot of brainspace–thinking about what everyone has to say, turning ideas and new and commentary over in my head, posing arguments or wondering if they’ve considered (x, y, z), even if I don’t even respond–can be a habit that drains energy that’s better spent elsewhere. I’ve got 5 homeschooling kids, several church callings, community work, and a writing life, that are all (on paper) bigger priorities for my thoughts and passion. I really shouldn’t be spending my energy debating the merits and pitfalls of unvaccinated vs. vaccinated undocumented endangered fruitbat circumcision healthcare coverage, not even in my head. It’s OK that that’s your cause, but I’m quite certain, compelling as this topic is, that it shouldn’t be a priority for me right now. I’ve got witch burnings to write about.
- In conclusion, I love you, I didn’t unfriend you, and if you happen to be a relation and/ or dear friend, please don’t be afraid to reach out. Because seriously, you are the best, and I mean that even though I totally missed the docudrama of how delicious your Chipotle burrito was last Wednesday. I’m on Twitter (for professional reasons) and Instagram (I don’t know why, I’ll quit if it becomes a habit and/or gains an actual following–see point 8). You’re free to connect there, for, you know, pictures of my zinnias.