"Good bye, world. Pray for me as I embark on this journey of living free of Facebook. It won’t be easy, their will be many challenges, but hopefully this countercultural lifestyle change will broaden my view of life deeper than it has been…" These are the words I have written in my journal and as I re-read them or rather, re-write them I realize how hysterical this is. Really? It’s like I’m writing a letter to my relatives as I head off to do mission work in some 3rd world country. The whole thought of leaving Facebook does sound entirely preposterous to anyone on the "outside". The decision sounds akin to announcing that I’m leaving the planet. People look at me with the same quizzical look I used to get when they found out I was homeschooled, that "who does that?" look. Yep, I’m used to it… But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced. Facebook has to go. Camera Guy is totally on board, we’ve talked about it endlessly, weighed the pros and cons, and ultimately chosen the daunting motion of deactivation. There is almost a certain thrill attached to it though, the thought of life beyond status updates.
What is it that is so huge about this? Why are we so concerned? So worried of what will happen if we leave? Who’s children will we never see? Who will we never talk to? Never hear from? Why are we wasting so much energy on this, why are we even talking about this at dinner? It’s Facebook for pete’s sake! It took some serious stepping back to realize the people who are truly our friends, we have a normal friendship with: we talk on the phone, visit in person, and send Christmas cards to. Everybody else, well….let’s be honest: we’re just being nosy. I didn’t realize the full grip of Facebook until my old roomate from college, Ellen called me. We chatted incessantly as usual about everything we had dug up via Facebook recently. Ellen made a lot of points about it. She made me realize how Facebook has this way of keeping you down, or stirring up annoyed feelings, or angry feelings even just by reading the stupid news feed. It’s like some prison of vice, where you are just constantly obsessing over what you are doing, and why its so important and then what is everyone else doing. It made me wonder how many times priests hear "Facebook" in confession. I mean I know I’m not the only one who finds all my downfalls much more exacerbated just by logging into that social network. Gossip? Super easy now. Pride? Bingo, status updates! Judgemental? Lust? Anger? Greed? ummmm sloth? You betcha! It was time that something had to change. Do we really need to know what each other is doing every second of our life? Information overload!
Camera Guy and I sat in bed one night, trying to remember when we first got on the network. 6 years ago! It doesn’t seem that long ago, but when we tried to think, we had a hard time remembering what pre-Facebook life was like. What did we do then? We asked ourselves…What else was there? Sad day. This is not how life is meant to be lived! Now it’s not all bad, we have enjoyed keeping in touch with people we may have otherwise lost touch with. But now, now that the dust of graduation and goodbyes have settled and we can sift out the friendships from acquaintances we think its time to make our exit. Time to return to a simpler way of life, with personal notes, phone calls and visits, even e-mails! We’re ready for this! Starting in 2011, the Thimons’ will be free of Facebook and hopefully better off because of it. As Ellen described when I asked her how it was going, "It’s only been two weeks….but you will be amazed at how many times a day your mind still thinks in the form of a status.." But she wouldn’t go back. It’s an empowering feeling to keep your life your own, out of the speculating eye of the world. Kudos to her, and cheers for us! Here we go!