A Short Essay on Leaving Facebook

At the end of 2016, I left Facebook to start my 2017 resolutions early. I have been on Facebook for nearly all of my adult life.

After the election happened, my opinion of Facebook soured and soured until I turned my focus app against it. After weeks of blocking it for most of the day, I decided to leave. I didn’t stop there. I deleted Instagram. I deleted almost every Tweet from before 2015. I cut almost everything up until the phantasm bitterness in my mouth felt bearable. I spared Goodreads. I spared Tumblr. I have an actual plan for Twitter.

Of course, I archived everything first. I am a librarian. I can’t not have a data backup. The Messenger app still works after one leaves. You still have all of your contacts.

Two years ago, I started a minimalist journey. I ejected the junk I had carried with me since childhood. I was suddenly confronted with the small, less-than-cohesive work attire I had scrambled from margin in my paychecks over the past few years without any of that filler that no longer fit or that I couldn’t wear any longer as a woman in her late twenties. Without filler, there was only that stark margin on the sides, hangers rustling together like the bones of so many yesterdays.

I had margin in my bookshelves. I discarded cookbooks I could no longer use due to Celiac despite earlier efforts to purge the ones that reminded me of pasta and bread. The emptier my private spaces became, the more margin I had. The more light I could cast on my things, the less the dust covered them. The emptier things became, the less time I spent cleaning them.

Early on in my journey, I came across a worksheet about social media. It offered an opportunity to analyze things. To make lists. To do all of the things I was good at. I could never leave Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr because all of these things make me happy and bring me a thousand shiny delights, I thought. Facebook is the mirror of baby Zagreus, a toy to catch the child’s attention while the Titans slither through the long grasses behind, faces scowling and cracked from the caked mud they wear to disguise their bodies and their ambrosial scent.

I’ve oscillated between happiness, elation, anger, and a quick-hearted panic as to what I’m going to do now when I need to take breaks from writing or work. My apartment has never been so clean. I have journaled. Deleting it created a vast margin of seconds meandering like a river, and in the moment of rest before I occupy it with more things and adjust to this new normal, I can feel the god of liminal spaces around me.

Leaving Facebook gives me more time for important devotional activities, like prayers to patron gods and gods of affinity; getting back into reading Tarot; and clearing out the giant backlog of to-read items that I have flagged in Mendeley.

This extra margin has the darkness of deep water, ready for the exploratory dive. I want to read more poetry. I want to write more long-count stories. I need to record Epiphany so I can release the serialized work piece by piece, which will start on the 4th of a lunar month after I finish reading it aloud, lightly monologued as Nitañi, its main character. As you may be aware from my last post, I consider this endeavor sacred in its own way.

When I started on Facebook in 2005, I was going into my freshman year of college. The platform was bright and new, ostensibly built to connect people, but secretly the seed for the advertising giant and consumer data broker that Facebook became. I couldn’t be who I am today without those eleven years.

Severing myself was a ritual act, like burning up childhood things on an altar during marriage. That child still grew into this adult. It was that moment in the PBS documentary of a purification ceremony in Japan where the cameraman caught a seawater-drenched Japanese man screaming, “Pure, pure!” with total elation when asked how the cleansing plunge made him feel. A cleansing ceremony doesn’t need to be in front of a shrine for it to be real. Gods peek through the thickest curtains.

 

 

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