“Life after Facebook,” OR “After Facebook… life?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness lately.

I recently picked up a novel at the library called “Eleanor Rigby.” I was drawn by the title due to it also being the name of one of my favorite Beatles songs, and I can’t help but hum it (or at least think it loudly) as I read. The book is about a woman in her mid-thirties (named Liz… NOT Eleanor) who has come to accept her solitary existence as a fact of life. She lives alone in a sparse condo, never has visitors, is indifferent to her job and co-workers, and would probably continue to do so if she hadn’t gotten that phone call from the hospital, telling her…

Ah, gotcha. I’m not going to spoil things, because you either (a) want to read it now, or (b) could care less. Anyway, that’s not what this is about.

Personal events have led me to the choice to evict Facebook from my life effective midnight, last night. Whether it turns out to be a temporary or permanent eviction remains to be seen. In short, the interactions on Facebook, while purportedly increasing my “social interaction” has, for me, done the opposite. I have spent far too many moments interacting in a vicarious and superficial manner with the 250-some “friends” on a website, while relationships with the real-life people I run into daily have gone by the wayside.

It wasn’t an easy split to make. So I started thinking about that: why SHOULDN’T it be? Why am I so tied-up emotionally in this silly website?

And am I the only one who feels this way? Nah… can’t be.

I think that more people in this world, though more connected in a plethora of ways than any generation of people before them, have become detached from “reality” with their relationships. I can only conjecture as to why… could be that FB and other sites of its ilk lead to a sort of emotionally inexpensive false intimacy. We feel more free to share information and emotions across cyberspace that we would NEVER have the courage, the gall, the lack of inhibitions, or the shortage of discretion to impart to someone else face-to-face.

I can’t just lump this into a bucket labeled “BAD” however. In some ways we are all too repressed… we hold things inside ourselves above and beyond safe levels for doing so. Unvented angst, unforgiveness, or other negativity can simmer to a violent boiling point, or can stagnate into bitterness. The latter can poison our souls. The former can hurt or kill others AND ourselves.

The problem is that the traditional avenue for getting these emotions out – in fellowship relationships with other real, non-judgemental people who are ALSO in need of a good emotional venting – has gone by the wayside. It’s too inconvenient or too scary for us to choose to do so with any degree of regularity… especially when semi-anonymous venting on the internet seems like it should do just as well.

Here’s the problem. When we don’t have other, hurting, human beings to share in this journey with us, face-to-face, hand-in-hand, heart-to-heart… we lose a little of our humanity. It’s not REAL, somehow. And any relief we get is cheap, temporary relief… like popping a couple Soul Tylenol.

So I’m kissing FB goodbye for a while. Possibly forever. There are so many hurting, lonely people out there who need some time in the presence of other folks on that same, sad road. And I’m one of them.

“All the lonely people… where DO they all come from? All the lonely people… where DO they all belong?”


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The random musings of a 30-something, West Texas high-school science teacher. Hoo-RAY.
October 2009
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