Breaking up is hard to do.
After all, Facebook and I have been together for more than a decade, during which I have scrolled through countless cute cat and kid videos, snarky Trump takedowns, random revelations on royalty, and carefully curated commercials assessed by algorithms monitoring my every click. My political biases have been fed back to me on a constant loop via suggested posts; I am daily inundated by quizzes to test my grasp of dated British colloquialisms or my ability to recognize ancient artifacts such as electric fires or pogo sticks.
I knew it was time to say goodbye when a post popped up of Beyoncé clutching her newborn twins Sir and Rumi against a backdrop of floral excess, reminiscent of the faux blooms on Melania’s $51,000 Dolce & Gabbana jacket. It’s not that I have anything against Beyoncé, it’s just that I am utterly indifferent to celebrity ‘news’ and I couldn’t even tell you anything about her, other than the fact that she is famous for singing and photo ops.
But what finally clinched it for me were Facebook’s endless exhortations to befriend ‘people you may know’. For both our sakes, I felt it only fair that I should quit while I was behind. Anyone with only 196 friends and a tendency to make do with 40-year-old cooking utensils is not going to generate the kind of ad revenue Mark Zuckerburg needs to keep his lifestyle afloat.
And not only am I virtually friendless, but my power of positive thinking gene was switched off at birth and the pleasure centre of my brain fails to light up at the prospect of learning seven things I need to know to get ahead in business, or 10 ideas for flattering, age-appropriate hairstyles.
What really led me to see the light was a brief but memorable July sojourn at a cottage with two of our oldest and dearest friends. Neither has ever succumbed to the siren song of Facebook, but somehow they enjoy life so much more because they actually live it in the real world. They travel extensively, spend lots of time with their children and grandchildren, support their friends through thick and thin and – this is my key point – are knowledgeable connoisseurs of craft beer and where to imbibe it.
During our visit, I ignored social media and we swam, read books, walked and talked into the night, laughing and reminiscing about our lives, our families and our enduring pleasure in each other’s company. We even listened to CBC news on the wireless (ancient Brit for radio) – a habit we have indulged in for all the years we have lived in this glorious country. For me, their friendship is one of the fundamental things that make life so sweet.
Can 52 ‘likes’ of your latest post replace a night gazing at the stars or an afternoon indulging in retail therapy in a lovely old country town with people who don’t need to log in and request your friendship? Away from YouTube videos documenting the shenanigans of the Tangerine Troglodyte, Oval Office Barbie (Ivanka), Vlad the Impaler (Don Jr.) and Malfoy (Eric Trump), life is just so much more beautiful and meaningful.
No doubt many people find social media enriching and worthwhile, but for me it has lost its lustre and simply become a way to procrastinate and waste precious time.
I leave you with the words of that brilliant student of human nature, Anon. “Behind every successful student, there is a deactivated Facebook account”.