Fatherhood: Week 26-Social Media
I deleted Facebook from my phone this week.
The social network had become a necessary burden. I use it to communicate with my friends in the Midwest, share blog posts and published work, and network with local writers and musicians. Most importantly, I post pictures of my son.
I will still continue to use Facebook to do these things, but the app felt like a third arm. I would constantly check to see how many reactions I would get to something I posted. It was a distraction I realize I did not need and was creating distance between my family and me. Having a son has already changed the dynamic between my wife and me. Being present for the few times we get to spend quality time together is a priority.
This idea was not original. I listened to the relief in Marc Maron's voice when he announced on his podcast on Monday that he deleted the Twitter app on his phone. His need to react to everything in the Twittersphere, especially in the aftermath of the surprising election results, had caused stress in his life. By clicking the X on his phone, he felt his burden lift.
I could relate to this. In addition to distracting me from my family, I became depressed by the negativity in friend's posts. I admit that seeing my values be on the losing side of a bitter election cycle was a blow. Watching people post articles as if to say "I told you so" felt even worse. Seeing videos of hate crimes committed in the name of our President-Elect was more than I could take. I barely had time to process how a Trump presidency would affect my friends and family, but I felt like I was in a constant reactive state. I would speak up only to be accused of whining about losing. I am honestly attempting to move on.
All of this pessimism was barraging me on my news feed, some from legitimate news sources and some coming from fake news sites. How does one even begin to vet the accuracy of these pieces? I spent countless minutes curled up in bed trying to find a reason to go out into a world that had radically changed in a matter of days. Even worse, sometimes I would look for something to be outraged by.
I did not think I would have a son to help me escape the daily doldrums. Whenever he does something cute, I want to post it immediately on the Internet. I know parents who have already created Facebook profiles for their children. I have to admit it is a cute idea. I am charmed by the concept of having an entire life documented on the Internet, like some sort of online version of The Truman Show. You can adjust the privacy setting to limit who can see your son or daughter online, but it still feels invasive to me. I wonder if in creating an online account for my son, I would be robbing him of an opportunity to define himself in the future.
My wife and I rarely post pictures of Beckett online without each other's approval. Once we do take a picture, we talk about where we draw the line. How much is too much? Granted, we all need some joy right now, but at what cost do we share that with our friends and family?
It is too soon to tell, but I am enjoying the renewed focus I have gained in days since I made my choice to delete the big blue F from my iPhone. The world has slowed down a little. I feel more connected to those I love. I hope this feeling lasts.
Again, I am still going to use Facebook. There are games of Farkle to play and rounds of Scrabble to win. There are pictures to post and thoughts to share. I would just rather communicate more the old-fashioned way: face to face while sipping a beverage. We can talk politics civilly instead of through memes. Maybe I'll bring my son along so you can enjoy him in person.
So drop me a line (I still have Messenger). Write me a letter and I will write you back. Give me a call. Send me a text. Drop me a tweet. Just don't expect me to check your Facebook page.