Cecily interviewed me this week regarding the decision I made to delete my personal Facebook presence. There were a lot of factors that ultimately led to my account deactivation: a growing desire for privacy, a greater need to avoid the time-suck, a larger feeling of connectivity elsewhere (here’s looking at you, Twitter). Yet there was a surprising byproduct of leaving The Great Social Network, a nice little parting gift I never imagined I’d receive:
A better self-esteem.
Sure, I’d considered how leaving Facebook might change my relationship with others – less self-interrupting, less distractions (and admittedly less connectivity to the online world). But I hadn’t considered how the decision might change my relationship with myself.
There’s a term for it, I’m sure: the feeling you get when scrolling through hundreds of staged, well-lit photos of perfect outfits, lovable dogs and cute babies that didn’t just vomit on your new [non-designer] sweater. Because on Facebook, the weather is always sunny and 70, the smell of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies wafts through the air and R.E.M’s “Shiny, Happy People” is looping over and over and over.
On Facebook, everyone is taking ubiquitous window-seat photos to glamorous, faraway destinations. (Because on Facebook, everyone gets the window seat.) Puppies never shed on your sofa or pee on your floor. No one has avocado stains on their pants. Shoot, on Facebook, everyone wears pants. (Mostly.)
And at some point, no matter how comfortable you are with yourself or your lifestyle or your mismatched socks, it all starts to add up and suddenly, you feel a bit inferior. You wonder why your birthday celebration didn’t involve a $7 cupcake with a perfectly-placed, super-striped candle aglow.
And you start to forget that you’re comparing your pre-edited camera roll to everyone else’s finished snapshot.
It might stop there, but it might not. You might start focusing on the blemish, not the smile. The decor, not the home. The words, not the meaning.
Until, of course, you stop. And you reassess. And you zoom into the twinkle of an eye, rather than the wrinkle of a forehead. For me, this happened when I deleted the profile on my screen and started focusing on the one in the mirror.
Suddenly, I saw the confetti in my own life more clearly. It was in the shape of dog food strewn about the kitchen floor during a rousing game of fetch. It looked like the dusting of baby powder after my daughter’s bath time. And it was scattered like the post-it notes of my daily planner: a gentle reminder of how blessed I am to be doing work that I love.
Because for me, quitting Facebook meant no longer searching for happiness in my feed, but instead, feeding my own search for happiness.
Confetti-filled or not.
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