I deactivated my personal Facebook account a few weeks ago. I have not missed it. In fact, I am really enjoying being disconnected. I doubt I will ever go back to Facebook in a personal way– though I will probably always keep my professional page there.
There are many reasons why I quit Facebook. Some of them are related to personal weaknesses that I struggle with. I am one of those people who often gets drawn into stupid arguments that waste time and go nowhere. I wanted to get that temptation out of my life.
Another major reason I decided to quit Facebook was the fact that it just feels fake. For example, I had a few thousand “friends” on Facebook, but I certainly don’t have 2,000 friends. I would not call those 2,000 people fake friends but they certainly are not real friends. For the most part, they are people from my past that I said goodbye to (without a second thought) over the years but managed to reconnect with on Facebook. Most of them were no more than acquaintances when I was interacting with them in real life and they are certainly not more than that now. I guess they ARE sort of fake friends.
The other big way Facebook feels fake involves how people portray themselves. I think you know what I mean, and I won’t elaborate except to say that things are just not quite as wonderful as they appear on Facebook. Families are imploding while the respective husbands and wives post Bible verses. Pictures of beautiful family reunions don’t jibe with the underlying conflict, financial ruin, wayward children, or health emergencies. Smiling faces often mask misery and hurt.
This is the time of year where people tend to get even more fake than normal and it is no coincidence that we always see articles about increased depression during the Christmas season. I get the correlation. I won’t go into the details but I can remember a time in my life where it was hard to be happy at Christmas. I remember how the festivities and music did not help, nor did all the “perfect” situations I saw on Facebook; in fact, those things made it worse.
That brings me to a thought about Christmas. If you want to be a good neighbor and friend and family member during this season, just be real. Don’t hide your struggles and wounds behind Christmas decorations. Coming clean and admitting that your life is not perfect will help others who might be tempted to compare their lives to the idealistic lives they see on Facebook.
While we can probably all name a few that take this concept a bit too far, I think most of us could do with a little more transparency (or honesty) in the way we portray ourselves. Being real is cool (in the music world, we call it authenticity) but it is also helpful to those around us. Can you imagine how helpful Facebook could be if more people saw it as a place to be helpful rather than a place to run a personalized PR campaign?
Being real is a gift that costs nothing, but has real value. Give that gift this Christmas as you interact with friends, family, and other people in your life. That is my challenge to you.
I am very thankful to all of you for your part in our year. In some ways, it has been exhilarating and exciting and in other ways, it has been challenging. Overall though, our hearts are full of gratitude.
Merry Christmas from the Howletts to you.