Un(Face)booked, sort of, or “I have the attention span of a—ooh! Shiny!”

So, recently, my friends may have noticed, my profile on Facebook disappeared. It’s been a long time coming. For the past several months, people have had to put up with me grumbling and, occasionally, outright shouting whenever I’d log in. I couldn’t help it. Someone would post something so patently false that I’d be compelled by a sense of righteous indignation (and years of training in journalism) to do the most basic of research online to point out, politely, that they might want to check their facts.

Then there are the endless pleas for homes for stray animals—on the other side of the country. Or the world. It’s like trying to one-up Sarah McLachlan, which I can barely take on the best of days. Seriously, my computer needs a USB box of Kleenex as a peripheral.

And politics. Don’t get me started on politics.

And yet, I couldn’t tear myself away. I’m not blaming Facebook. (No, really. I’m not.) The fault is not in my stars, but in myself. I suffer from a heinously short attention span, so I’m easily distracted. I know it’s not uncommon; I’m the sort of person who will go online to look up something—say, how far Galveston is from the Johnson Space Center—and three hours later I’m looking at Google photos of the Texas City disaster from 1947 and a friend’s Flickr set of the beach at Galveston and I still haven’t finished writing the sentence that involved getting from the Johnson Space Center to Galveston.

Um, not that this actually happened (on Monday).

Facebook was the same way. Log in to check if there are any messages and surface an hour later after finding and commenting on eleventy million vegan chili recipes (none of which are as good as mine, of course, but still) or barely containing my (admittedly impotent) rage at the most recent injustice in the world.

Still, I didn’t quite want to hit the self-destruct button. I’m a writer, after all, and a queer writer just getting his start who’s published by a (wonderful) independent press at that. (Insert obligatory BLATANT SELF-PROMOTION to please buy my book here.) My audience, it goes without saying, is not huge, and I value all of them. But I do know of one or two writers who aren’t on Facebook. And last year, when my friend James cut the Facebook cord, I wondered if I could do the same.

Besides, I’d been a split personality on Facebook for a while as well. In addition to my profile, I also had a writer’s Page that kept up with the comings and goings of what I was working on (and, when I’m lucky, publishing).

A couple weeks ago, two things finally conspired to drive me over the edge: the Trayvon Martin trial, and a friend’s somewhat messy breakup.

Click. Boom.

It’s not like I’ve abandoned social media, of course. I still spend some time on Twitter, where I find that 140 characters is ideally suited to my attention span. And killing the Facebook profile means I can’t go comment on everyone else’s photos and profiles, so it’s kind of like forcing myself to focus. (You know what else helps? This program.) It serves to keep me from going out and searching for diversion and distraction.

Um, not that I’d ever do that (daily).

7 thoughts on “Un(Face)booked, sort of, or “I have the attention span of a—ooh! Shiny!”

  1. Yeah, I only run my Facebook about two months out of the year and then I delete it again. It just does not seem to be worth the stress most of the time. Currently, I have about six friends on Facebook and they are all immediate family.

    • Yeah, I know folks who’ve dropped off and restarted an account with only immediate family. But I keep in touch with family through calls and email, and switching to a Facebook Page has forced me to limit the amount of time I’m on there—and how much I can do, which in this case is a good thing!

  2. Good for you! I admire you for your ability to stop, drop, and roll on. I think about it (daily), but I’m honestly scared to death to lose touch with people I actually like. I have no conviction. 😦

  3. Ahem. Vegan chili recipe por favor.

    I have been Facebook-free now for 18 months. I do miss some of the interactions with people from afar, but they in no way made up for the craziness and crankiness of some people, nor the increasingly constraining limitations the mighty FB overlords were inflicting upon us serfs.

  4. I leave my personal profile up but locked it down pretty hard…and I’m not shy about throttling down content from “friends” who are spammerific. Social Fixer helps keep it a bit more sane too. But I understand, even approve of the impulse to jettison a known source of distraction.

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