It has now been 92 hours since I made it impossible for me to log on to Facebook. How did I do this? It was simple.
I opened Notepad. Then, I created a random password consisting of about thirty-five random characters in a row that I produced by closing my eyes and doing a big piano glissando up and down the computer keyboard. I copied it, put it in the “change password” field on Facebook, and promptly deleted it from Notepad. Then I logged off.
Since Facebook requires one to post their old password prior to creating a new one, and since I now have no idea what my old password is, I will simply never log on to Facebook again.
Why did I do this? Let’s look at the hard facts.
(1) I just punched in facebook.com on my browser to see how many notifications I had received in the past 92 hours. Interestingly, the number is 184. That’s twice 92 – and I kid you not. This means I was receiving one notification every half an hour.
Now, let’s say I would spend fifteen minutes addressing each notification. (That, by the way, is a very conservative estimate, knowing me.) 15 times 184 amounts to 2,760. 2,760 minutes amounts to 46 hours. In the 92 hour period of time, that means I would have spent half my time on Facebook, dealing with the notifications alone. Can I afford to spend half my time on Facebook? No, I cannot.
(2) I am a person who has been diagnosed with severe adult attention hyperactive deficit disorder, otherwise known as ADHD. What this means, as far as Facebook is concerned, is that whatever stimulus is the strongest and most immediate will be the one that grabs my attention.
One morning, for example, I logged onto Facebook in order to grab a video from my daughter’s video files to send to a friend of mine. Before I could find the video, a friend of mine who was feeling depressed logged on, and I spent two hours in an effort to console him. Point is, his depression struck me as being of more immediate importance than the elusive video my daughter had made, which was buried somewhere deep within her video files, and therefore less immediate. Once my friend was comforted, no sooner did I begin once again to look for the video, when another friend of mine showed up, wanting to discuss a subject about which I am passionate. Her passion striking me as being of more immediate importance than my daughter’s video, I quite passionately discussed the important subject with her for another two hours. Then I had to go to work. In the meantime, I forgot all about the video, which was the only reason I had logged onto Facebook in the first place. Thus are the effects of Adult ADHD.
(3) As one who is Sicilian by genetic predisposition, I have a very difficult time letting go of the past. It therefore stands to reason that if I want this situation to improve, I ought not to be hanging around too many people whom I knew in the past, and instead throw more of my focus on developing positive friendships in the present, that will lead me to a more positive future. Moreover, reconciling with certain figures from the distant past has more than once proved to be disastrous.
And here’s where the story gets good:
(4) At one point in my life, I made a casual comment on my Facebook that was misinterpreted by a well-meaning Facebook friend. All of a sudden, three cops came pounding on my door. They handcuffed me, ransacked my hotel room for narcotics and firearms, (of which I had neither!) and hauled me off to an insane asylum.
I was released the next morning, but highly inconvenienced by the ordeal. My blood pressure shot up sky high, and I had to sit on a gurney in an emergency room for about six and a half hours before it was low enough for me to be legally hauled away to the nearest local loony bin, twenty-five miles South of my hotel room.
There, I managed to convince the baffled psych techs that I was neither suicidal nor homicidal. I was released in my T-shirt in freezing cold December weather, and I wandered around for three days until the debit card refund for my hotel room cleared to my account. (Obviously, I lost the hotel room, where I had paid for a two week stay, because when the 9-1-1 team showed up to haul me off to the psychiatric pavilion, all of the tenants came out of their doors to see what all the ruckus was about; and due to the police involvement, the hotel manager did not want to rent to me any longer. I also left most of my clothing in the room, along with some books. The motel room owners claimed no responsibility for items life in the building.)
As for the Facebook friend who made the dubious 9-1-1 call? Long story short, I basically never heard from him again, except for a total of exactly two fairly unpleasant interactions in the following four years. Must not have been much of a friend. But he sure seemed like a friend for a while there, because he was the only one out of my some 300 odd Facebook friends who was concerned enough about my well-being to even consider making such a call. And this leads to my 5th reason:
(5) These hundreds of people on your Facebook “friends” list are by and large not your friends. You think they are your friends, because you befriended them when you were both in your teens or early twenties, and it was wonderful to reconnect with them. Perhaps they are friends of friends of yours, or maybe even friends of people who are not your friends. You know how to find out who your friends are on Facebook? It’s easy, which leads to my sixth reason:
(6) I gave my phone number and email address to all of my Facebook friends some time prior to my abrupt departure. Outside of the handful of people whom I already knew to be my true friends, you know how many of them actually called me? Exactly three. Thank you, Paul, Mari, and Holly. Now I know who my friends are. :)
(7) When I found myself arguing politics pointlessly with a total stranger in New York City who would not only never change his mind, but was probably drunk off his butt and had no idea what I was even talking about, enough was enough.
What all of this points to is:
(8) I have had five Facebooks in the past ten years. Every one of them started out fine, then in some way imploded. Every time I started a new one, I mistakenly thought I had overcome my dysfunctional obsessive-compulsive addictive relationship with Facebook. I was wrong.
What did Albert Einstein have to say about the matter?
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4 thoughts on “The End of an Era”
That’s a lot of notifications…! But we seem to share the same story regarding (mis)adventures on Facebook, although your stories are much wilder than mine. I re-opened an account last year for the purpose of promoting my site, after imploding ungraciously on that site a few years earlier. I find it easier now that I don’t hinge on people’s expectations and needs, and that I have a goal to work towards. I simply got preoccupied with something else. This compulsive problem may never go away for me, but I can redirect it to something else…though I still have problems with searching for random things in the early mornings!
But I digress. The reason why I deleted my entire account was because I had certain issues with certain people and privacy. But in the process I rediscovered the actual number of my real friends (joy!) and I felt like I could breathe, for once. Then I started deleting every online media account I had. It’s only been recently that I find myself not needing to read every notification I receive. So, now I alternate between being very social online and becoming a total recluse when it gets too much. Reading your story really made me think about myself and my shaky relationship with social media, so I thought I’d share a bit. 😄
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Yes, it seems that our experiences are similar, although it appears you arrived at a healthy decision a bit sooner than I did. Discovering who actually cares about *you* — and who is not just a “Facebook Junkie” – can be very useful and liberating. For me, I enjoy WordPress and Twitter, and I tend to gain from those sites. But as I age, I realize that I just don’t need the stress of Facebook, and the multiple possibilities for uncanny events to disrupt my life, such as the wild true story I recounted in Point #4. But most of all, at this moment, I am enjoying Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor. Thank you for posting one of the most magnetic and moving compositions in the history of humanity. Here’s to a happy New Year for Zelda Reville.