Breaking up with Facebook

Dear Facebook,

Our tenth anniversary is Dec 30th. To celebrate 10 years of posts, link sharing and photos of my kids, I’m deleting my account. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Things have been rocky these last few years. You’ve been undermining democracy throughout the world and more explicitly facilitating the Russians’ influence on our election here in the US. I’ve held on through this rough patch because I love seeing pictures of my friends’ kids and really appreciate your events feature. But you’ve changed. Maybe I have too?

The reality is Facebook, you’re a right-wing propaganda machine, and I can’t be a part of that. Your recently revealed attack on George Soros using anti-Semitic dog whistles was the last straw. (The fact that Zuck and Cheryl are Jews just serves as a reminder to us all that identity politics are no match for capitalism.) I can no longer make content for you or lend my eyeballs to your advertisers' ads. I have no illusion that my action will make any difference, but I’m going to enjoy a clearer conscience once I make this split.

Truth is, our time together hasn’t been all bad. As I prepare to end this 10-year relationship, I’ve taken stock of what you do well and tried to figure out how I can replicate that in my life without you.

Sharing My Life — What I first loved about you, Facebook was that I could make a post and update family and friends so efficiently. Previously that would have taken several phone calls, emails, texts and conversations over coffee. As a working mom with three kids, this was a lifesaver. Later when I got cancer, it saved me once again. There is nothing worse than having repeat the same painful information about your diagnosis and treatment to all the people you love. But with a few posts, I saved myself that pain with the added bonus of receiving an outpouring of love and support in return. I’m going to keep giving updates, but they will just be in a different format. Starting next month, I’ll be sending a monthly email to everyone who subscribes. Just like my Facebook feed it will include the latest news on my life with cancer, the trials, tribulations and glories of raising three boys and my musings on politics and the state of the world. It will likely include a poem or two. Maybe even a recipe. I’ll also provide updates on my writing (I have big goals for 2019!) and information on my play, FreeWork, that I’ll be producing in the 2019 Philly Fringe Festival.

Following Friends Lives — This is going to be hard one to give up because I have some awesome friends doing amazing things and raising some seriously adorable children. I’m going to miss being able to passively “stay in contact” with all of them. I’ve never been 100% convinced this a good thing. Something is lost when we maintain our friendships through social media, but the limits of space and time are real. I’ve valued the opportunity this last ten years to be a voyeur of my friends lives — especially those living far from me. I plan to try to connect more actively IRL, but I’m accepting that maintaining relationships takes work, time and energy that I might not have.

Documenting My Life — My kids don’t have baby books. I had one for my oldest that I wrote in for only two weeks. Ezra urged me to destroy my sad attempt arguing that not having a baby book was better than seeing your mom couldn’t get her shit together to update even your first month. But thanks to you, Facebook, I have ten years of posts and photos! Last year, when I was seriously considering a split from you, I took the crazy step of creating physical books of all my posts with MySocialBook. My family cracked up when I told them about my plan to print all my posts, but I got the last laugh when those books became the 2017 holiday season’s hottest read in my house! I love the idea that maybe after I’m dead my kids will pass on to my grandchildren a 10-volume set of books documenting my time on Facebook as a family heirloom.

Events — This one is big for me, and after searching, I haven’t found anything that will replicate your events listing. My social, advocacy and artistic calendar is set and managed largely through you. The ability to see what my friends are interested in attending is a brilliant function and some of the coolest things I’ve done I only found out about through you. Fingers crossed another events application will spring up to fill this need, but in the meantime I plan to read emails closer for upcoming events, check the websites of organizations I love more often and read the calendar section in Inquirer closer. However, I’ve accepted that I’ll miss out on things, and I’m ok with that. (If you’re a Philly friend reading this, I’m hoping you’ll let me know when something is happening that I shouldn’t miss!)

As I contemplated this break up, I’ve thought back to our early days together and how simple and easy it was then. No countless ads for bras (seriously why so many bra ads!?!), no Russian memes shared by my “patriotic” family and friends, no passive aggressive posts that require you copy and paste to show you care about an issue. It was just friends, many of whom I hadn’t spoken to in years, sharing what they had for lunch, how they were feeling and most often their desperate need for more sleep. (We were all in the early throws of parenting back then). For me, spending time on Facebook was a comforting reminder of our collective humanity. That ultimately our days and lives are comprised of the joyous and the tragic but mostly the mundane. When we were at our best, Facebook, I felt connected and less alone. And for that, I am grateful.

Sincerely,

Terrilyn

Last Remaining Member of the West Philly Cancer Moms

Adult Tonsillectomy (Poem)