Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

On leaving FaceBook

What a strange topic to begin with. But these are strange times.

One of the hardest things about the Covid 19 pandemic is not being able to see other people.

Until now I’ve split my time between working from home and traveling to speak at conferences and provide training.

During the weeks that I work from home, I break up my day with visits to various coffee shops and sit by myself or with friends. I stop at the grocery store on my way home and chat with other shoppers and the folks who work for the store. I miss that during this shut down.

These past couple of years, I’ve been on the road two - three weeks a month.

I know!

Although the travel is exhausting, I’ve made friends around the world both in the cities I travel to and among other speakers and attendees who travel to these same places.

When I speak at a conference, I feel that it’s part of the gig to interact with as many of the attendees as possible. I try to sit with people at meals, chat with them during breaks, and generally make myself available.

It’s exhausting. At the end of the day I’ll head back to my hotel room and just embrace the quiet.

I’ve always thought that I was an introvert.

An introvert isn’t necessarily shy, an introvert finds that it takes a good deal of energy to interact with a crowd of people.

An extrovert is energized by this interaction.

I am exhausted by large groups but energized by small groups.

I don’t know if there’s a word for that.

I love hanging with a small group of friends at a coffee shop or in my backyard. I find this energizing and relaxing at the same time. There’s not a definite critical number above which I’m uncomfortable - it’s an “I know it when I feel it” kind of thing.

The same thing is true online.

I love catching up with friends.

During the pandemic we have written, called, video chatted, group chatted and it’s been wonderful.

I also check up with them on Facebook and Twitter.

A lot.

Too much.

I’ve gained a lot from Facebook.

It keeps me in touch with my family and Kim’s. I see pictures of people I haven’t seen for a while. I’ve watched friends kids grow up, graduate from things, get engaged, get married, and start their own families. I’ve read insightful posts from friends I don’t get to see very often. I get cooking tips and pointers to useful things to buy and good books to read. I get exposed to a point of view that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I’m comforted to know that friends are safe in certain situations.

And I get a browser filled with hate. I read a friend’s thoughtful post and one of their friends injects a science-ignoring or fact-free opinion that they are convinced rebuts what my friend said or posted but doesn’t because they didn’t read the post they are replying to.

Facebook itself is toxic and is knowingly creating a dangerous environment that threatens our democracy.

I’ve been leaving Facebook in two stages.

Stage one was the month of June where I let people know I was leaving soon and encouraged them to follow me elsewhere.

I’m midway through stage two. During July I’ve created and started posting more to other sites. I’ve moved my food posts one place, my technical posts somewhere else, and this site is launched for political and personal posts.

It is likely that you won’t like these.

Stage two is also about disengaging from Facebook. I’ve committed not to “Like” or comment on any posts.

This has been difficult.

Bob posts something political - I could easily “like” it. David posts historical context (often Soviet) for something going on today - what harm is a little thumbs up? Bill posts a project, Felisa a picture of harvest or baking, Brenda of a dish she’s enjoyed.

I am not responding.

Someone posts on one of my links with a question or a comment. I have not followed up even though it may seem rude. Someone deliberately misunderstands a post that a friend has made and I want to make a quick clarifying comment.

I don’t do it.

I watched Kim quit cigarettes many years ago. After she would occasionally smoke one at a wedding or party but never a second one. The first always made her a little sick and she didn’t want to get beyond that feeling as she was sure she’d start again.

So no “Likes”, no comments, no quick posts.

This month I’m only posting links to my posts on other sites.

My goal at the end of the month is to stop posting anything on Facebook.

David says I won’t be part of the conversation anymore. He says that people will lose touch with me.

I suppose they might. That will make me sad.

I hope we’ll find other ways to keep in touch.

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