This was the initial response when I announced over a month ago to my email contacts that I had deleted my Facebook account and was giving my cell phone a limited life span. Those who knew me well enough did not ask for details. It was a heart-and-gut-driven decision (too much going on in the head to lengthily process the pros and cons).
The reasons were clear in my letter: I already had a good ride of five going on six years in the medium (opened the account in ’07, four years after founder Mark Zuckenberg set up FB originally to connect his Harvard U classmates); there was spring cleaning and re-prioritzing to do; I was missing snail mail it hurt (four boxes of stationery with cards, envelopes, paper were opened infrequently due to FB’s convenience in sending greetings).
What surprised me was how many friends and relatives in FB had been thinking the same thing for some time but hadn’t taken action. Let’s call them by the initials A to U as they are cited in this story.
A: “Good for you! I’ve been thinking of disabling my FB account. Thanks for taking the step. There was life before FB, and there will certainly be life after!”
B: “I want to do that, too!”
C: “That’s a sound, practical decision. Baka sumunod ako sa iyo (maybe I’ll follow you).”
D: “I so envy you for being able to make this decision.”
E: “I have scheduled my FB abort plan a long time ago but have constantly delayed my photo back-up plan. Congrats! I would like to send snail mail. Can we do that? ”
F: “May I have your current mailing address? I enjoy the romance of snail mail and would like to keep in touch with you that way.”
G: “What a refreshing decision! I am trying to de-clutter my life, too, and I’m inspired by what you are trying to do. I pray you stay healthy and skip-skip-skippy happy!”
H: “In due time I will be signing off Facebook for the second time. It was only on my children’s request that I reopened my FB, but it has become counter-productive to the creative process. I hope your move to downsize (or downspread?) inspires others to do likewise.”
I: “Hail to quietude!”
J: “Great decision! I wish I had the courage to do the same.”
K: “Cheers to you! I’ve deactivated my FB account twice because I rarely post or check, and often, I get tired watching people say their piece or post nonsense things. I’m contemplating of doing it again for a final time. Wish me luck.”
L: “Congrats for going back to basics!”
M: “I appreciate that you keep me in the loop. May I know where I can send you a snail mail?”
N: “What a wonderful, liberating move!”
O: “What splendid news! I welcome it with all my heart. A move like this doesn’t happen overnight. All the best as you embark on a sublime phase of your life. Now you listen to the silence.”
P: “You brought the most joy through your postings on my FB wall, thank you! We always know how to find each other, that’s for sure!”
Q: “That’s so cool. If it weren’t for my brothers who are based in Barcelona and who don’t like e-mails but for some reason like chatting on FB, I’d disable mine, too.”
R: “My first reaction was that you are gradually retreating from us! But reading to the end, I cannot help but be truly impressed and touched. Not too many people have your courage and quiet resolution to sit back and sift through the many mindless things we do to define ourselves and find value in our daily living. You will, of course, continue to write and contribute your writings, I hope. May the goddesses be with you always.”
S: “Your decision inspires me to maintain a written daily planner to keep my appointments and record significant dates. I’m glad you’ll keep doing snail mail! Hope your letter to me arrives soon!”
T: “What? Are you depressed! Can I help? Will miss you.”
U: “Oh, the bare necessities.”
On to something
When a friend invited me to join, I saw how quickly we could stay in touch because the FB applications seemed all in one place, including easy upload of photos, illustrations, etc.
At that time, my initial FB friends could openly toast one another with virtual mugs of beer, flutes of champagne or just a spiritless glass of water (geographical distance prevented us from getting together).
There was no need then to adjust privacy and security settings. There was a communal sharing of LOL memories, especially with colleagues from work places where we were fired or retrenched. Some Facebookers-come-lately admitted to joining FB so they could be “lurkers” (peeping toms in the old days).
FB was, and remains, an effective platform for advocacies in literature and the arts, gay rights, reproductive health, anti-impunity, free political prisoners campaigns and other causes my heart is still in. I shared milestones like our silver wedding anniversary, solo and group shows, the intimate concert series where I assisted the organizer.
I liked FB for making possible immediate sharing of new links while they were hot, especially articles from periodicals I couldn’t afford to buy at their current newsstand prices or journals still unavailable here. Friends shared precious FB notes, poems by Simeon Dumdum Jr. and Jose Victor Peñaranda.
I’ve gotten used to composing articles directly on the computer. When I’m at a loss for words, instead of standing up or stretching, I used to log on to FB. During its early years, I answered quizzes. One quiz was what post-journalism work I was suited for. The answer was: “Bartender.” That isn’t far-fetched. As a reporter, I’ve gotten used to listening to other people tell stories of their lives.
Those are the pluses.
For the downside, some family members were not pleased with how my manic ebullience spilled all over my FB wall. Maintaining the account wasn’t appreciated. Perhaps I was sharing too much information. One complained, “You’re flooding my news feed!”
That was when FB was morphing where personal likes, comments, etc., were being featured in the home page. Do I need to know that someone’s neighbor is singing off-key accompanied by a videoke? That type of status came in variations until in the end I limited subscriptions to Blissful Quotes, Quantum Grace Group, Positive Outlook and the like.
In the early FB years, I made the mistake of posting “Elizabeth Lolarga is melancholy.” I could’ve bashed my head with a flower vase. Next time I logged onto my account, classmates from as far as Europe and the US were concerned. I was mortified. I deleted that status and accompanying comments.
During depressive episodes, I’d leave FB alone. I didn’t open it until there was a stirring of life in me. Meanwhile, I used those episodes to read, journal the old-fashioned way, draw up lists of things to be done when I got better.
I saw that I had neglected my blog, a means of self-expression without FB’s noise. That made me look at the blog as more age-appropriate outlet. Time was needed to go through my accumulated detritus on this planet: papers, books, stuff to drastically trim down to a neat minimum. I’m not about to find more shelves or drawers for these that I once held dear. They’re only that: things.
Real, not virtual, life’s pull is stronger. I’ve got to work on losing weight not for aesthetic reasons but to keep the old ticker going and bring down the blood sugar for a quality old age (there, I’ve admitted it again). That can’t be done if your livelihood depends on sitting and composing in front of a lappy for hours.
As for fear of missing announcements, events, opportunities with deleting FB, there’s still email. Although I’ve cut down my contacts in my cell phone to family, doctors and work projects and lessened its use, I don’t think I’ll lose millions of pesos (big LOL there) if I totally junk it, too.
After all, what is the true measure of a person? Certainly not being equipped with the latest accoutrements of technology or being in step with the next big thing.