Monday, February 9, 2009

Why I left Facebook

For a long time now, ever since I have got on Facebook and had many people mostly from my past, friends or not, send me "friend" requests, I have been feeling a vague distaste for this whole social networking culture. That still small voice has been nagging away at the back of my consciousness and I'm finally starting to sit up and take notice. Why does Facebook creep me out? Here is a start:

My friends list is basically a graveyard of people I have had some intereraction with in the past, some memorable, some wholly forgettable. And after they request to add me as a "friend", there is no further interaction forthcoming from them, even ON Facebook! So this whole adding-as-friend business seems to me to be a subtle kind of mutual voyeurism agreement - you peek into my social world and I'll peek into yours, with a still more subtle connotation of "and then let's see who is cooler". Everything you join, do or say reflects on the newsfeed that all the "friends" get to see - so everything that you say or do or join, you do with an eye for how it will look, how it will affect my "cool factor". Quite a Danse Macabre of the ego.

In a recent discourse to His students, Baba said, "I wish that you all be very careful in your contacts and relations with others. If possible, dump your cell phones in a well. You will be happy and peaceful. Better you don’t acquire them at all! Even if you acquire one, establish contact and connection with only those with whom it is desirable. Do not develop unnecessary and undesirable contacts with others. By developing such contacts, you gather news from all and sundry and pass it on to others. Ultimately, you will end up as Narada, poking your nose in all sorts of things. You will not only spoil your mind with unwanted things but spoil the minds of others too! Why all this unpleasantness? Is it not because of your unwanted and undesirable telephonic contacts? Hence, be careful and earn a good name for yourself, your parents, and the institution in which you are studying."
He's talking about cellphones, but He has also described Facebook to a T! The message here is more than clear. In a nutshell, Facebook turns you into a Narada of the worst kind!

Eckhart Tolle once said in an interview - "Transcending the world does not mean to withdraw from the world, to no longer take action, or to stop interacting with people. Transcendence of the world is to act and interact without any self-seeking. In other words, it means to act without seeking to enhance one's sense of self through one's actions or one's interaction with people."
Now we're doing precisely that in Facebook - seeking to enhance one's sense of self through one's actions (like joining groups after seeking what you want to identify with out there) or one's interactions with people (commenting, peeking into profiles, writing on walls, relentlessly acquiring "friends")!!

Someone once said that your past is the ultimate delusion, and Facebook keeps one nicely anchored in that delusion. And it's so insidious that you don't realize it at first. On the surface it is most innocent, hail-fellow-well-met and all that, just keeping in touch with people, what can be nicer? But underneath, your ego is just feasting off the whole thing, revelling in self-preoccupation, muddying your mind with an explosion of unnecessary thoughts and emotions, and taking you far away from the Here and Now. When Here and Now is where life is.

Social networking for the sake of social networking is an ego prop I no longer want to burden myself with.

25 comments:

  1. +1

    a long time ago i go the hell off facebook, orkut and every other "ego prop" (nicely put) mascaraing as a benign social networking tool. they did not sit well with me and so i dumped them. but i never got around to tracing out the reasons for my repulsion. your blog does a good job of highlighting some of them. one point that cannot be stressed enough is that these websites are all about creating an image of your self for others and in the process of building one up, you take on the burden of yet another false identity which the ego instinctively wants to aggrandize. From that point on it is a feeding frenzy for the ego that never ends and always spirals downward.

    nice article!!

    kumar.

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  2. Detaching from all of these 'baggages' is possible. The key, as I see it, is to question oneself, repeatedly if not always, as to what our guiding motives are in these actions. The 'I' will know whether what it does is for the 'self' or for something that goes beyond it. Everything can be used for its purpose in 'good' and 'bad' ways, or in selfish or selfless ways. It isn't, I would argue, the overt actions by which man can tell.

    But I'm willing to bet you agree with me anyway, but wish to make another point that I did not get?

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  3. You're most welcome to make another point. I appreciate your first point - absolutely agree that nothing is good or bad per se but that thinking makes it so, as the famous saying goes.

    It is just that Facebook, in my particular case, was not exactly having a beneficial effect in my life. It had me addicted to trivialities that did not even concern me, and wasted much of my time and energy. Time waste is life waste as Baba succinctly puts it. Hence the decision to leave it, and subsequent rant on this blog :)

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  4. :)

    No no, I didn't mean to make another point. I was wondering if I got yours, or if I was just rambling :).

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  5. I agree with the whole facebook, myspace and such bs. Its all crap to me, however, I did join Yelp.

    Yelp is a great way to meet people, since you review restaurants, bars, clubs and they have elite events. I have gone to a cancer charity 5k walk, a cooking competion, made chocolate truffles in a chocolate factory and gone kayaking through yelp. Its a great way to meet people. Unlike facebook and myspace you already know all your friends.

    With yelp its an actual social network, and you find out which restaurants are good or bad and what or order (or what to avoid!)

    I love your post! I despise facebook and myspace but I love yahoo answers, craigslist yelp and meetup.com since they are useful, productive, you learn new things and do real things with real people!

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  6. "It had me addicted to trivialities that did not even concern me"

    That's such a great line. I got off of FB because I realized one day that I was doing things during the day specifically to have an interesting status. I suffered an injury on a training run when I decided to go 2 extra miles so that I could post that I'd run my farthest distance ever.

    But since being off I've discovered that my perception of my friends and family is now based on our physical interactions, not their FB status. When my girlfriend's status was that she missed her roommate, I wondered why she didn't miss me! It was awful and these trivialities caused incredibly irrational thoughts in my own mind. I'm glad to be a FORMER user.

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  7. The 2nd paragraph... is amazing. You express fully what I felt but could not articulate. Thank you.
    I'm peeved with fb, and am about to delete my account. It's so empty. And for me, really it's a false sense of connection to people that I hardly know.

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  8. I posted something similar a while back...

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  9. excellent, excellent thoughts! facebook makes me feel insecure like junior high, (i'm 31!) and I am about to leave it!

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  10. This is so very true. I just left and have decided to keep my life 'real.'

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  11. agreed, bro. I left facebook in the weekend. all the people on my friends list are now just a graveyard. I miss the times I spent with those poeople in person, and I want to revive them in person again. With Facebook, it has distanced us all totally. And due to lack of interaction from distant people, there is virtually NO connection to such people of the past.

    I am happy to have left FAcebook, because I kept on getting irritated with people moving on and doing things I couldn't do, and I got irritated that some people put me on their Limited profiles while they were still on Facebook.

    And I agree with a post I read online: Facebook was the best and the very last social networking site I'll ever use. Amen

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  12. I left it for the second time yesterday, this time for good. I was getting creeped out and haunted by people from my past, it was also having a negative effect on my intimate relationship. I feel alot better.

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  13. Good for you guys!

    This link here might be helpful for anyone looking to leave Facebook cleanly and permanently.

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  14. Insightful words indeed - both from the blogger and commenters. These are similar to my own conclusions and subsequent decision to leave Facebook.

    http://manfromthezoo.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-i-left-facebook.html

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  15. I deleted my account today. It was not just for the privacy reasons but the notion to connect with friends you had to be a part of a social networking site - This is just too CREEPY!

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  16. Facebook was supposed to be a tool to help you connect with your friends. Now it seems you are the tool and it is your imprinted cyber life that lives your life for you.

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  17. I am very close to leaving Facebook, for many of the reasons discussed here. There are two more: I have ADHD - Inattentive type, and I am suffering from Facebook overload. The inundation of apps, Friend suggestions, ads (so many of the pages and groups are thinly-disguised marketing ploys), and meaningless posts have left me overwhelmed and feeling that I can't keep up.

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  18. Hi Mangal,I was one of those who resented facebook before and said exactly the same things that you have said above.But as you have quoted a few words of what Baba said about Phones -
    "Even if you acquire one, establish contact and connection with only those with whom it is desirable. Do not develop unnecessary and undesirable contacts with others." I completely agree with this.Everything that man invents or has invented has advantages and disadvantages (car,mobile,laser correction for eyes etc etc).So its not the tool but the person or how we use it is important.My facebook has only people i WANT to be in touch with and access has been given to ONLY those who can peek into my world.Out of sight should not become out of mind.Such options are available on Facebook.I got to meet my best friends from school.I choose what,when and with whom i want to be in touch with.We have to be in control and not allow face book to keep control of our life.My agruement against Facebook would on "safety issue" and not "cool Factor".

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  19. Hi Tings, thanks for the comments. The one thing that bothered me about maintaining a tight circle on FB was rejecting or ignoring friend requests. Granted you gotta do what you gotta do, but I felt bad doing it...the rejection seems so explicit and discriminative - "you are good enough to be a friend, and sorry you are not". Besides, the ones I wanted to keep in touch with I was already keeping well in touch through email, meetings and interactions in the real world, phone, etc. What was the point of moving the whole thing to a public platform? And even if one keeps a firm leash on who is allowed in, there are gradations of friendship even with the bunch you allow in and in the end what you share on FB boils down to the lowest common denominator. No rich one-on-one interactions, no depth. In my experience, FB did nothing to enhance my relationships, and actually added some negative factors in my daily life as described in the post, so I decided to pull the plug.

    I realize, though, that this might not be everybody's experience and I'm cool with that.

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  20. I am so glad I found your post. I left fb again yesterday. I hope for good this time. I admit I feel rather isolated today, but I know that will pass. The funny thing is - the minute I was free from fb, my mind instantly reverted to old ways, dreams, goals, projects, ideas. It was like a flood of opportunities rushing back into my life. I picked up an old project and began working peacefully on it. (without wondering if someone was "poking me" on fb while I worked) I read a news article. I called a friend. I feel private again. Thank you for sharing these personal thoughts, as the are comforting to people like me, needing a little validation for an uconventional decision to leave fb.

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  21. I left facebook for numerous reasons. I do not understand the need to reconnect and fix relationships from the past. Having so many people from my past ask me to be their friend gave me anxiety. Even being one person's friend means that 200 can see me on that person's list and then potentially through that friend can then see my private space (if that friend shares). It has become such peer pressure to be on it and who can keep track of what is going on within the network? For example, how many people are hurting you and how many people are you hurting? The text is taking place without visual cues and body language so everything is easily misinterpreted. Also what do you do if your boss or boss's friend wants to befriend you? There are so many security issues. I honestly am shocked with how quickly and easily society has become obessessed with fb. Are we really judged as uncool for choosing to not be part of this? Do I want to be tagged in photos that hundreds or thousands of people can have potential access to? I think society has become brainwashed. Our conscious minds are changing and headed in a dangerous direction. We are relying on a very unsecure mode of communication. We don't realize how much we are being watched, analysed, judged and gossiped about by others. I never did fit into a typical box and I must accept that that is the way it is. I know what I'm writing is just rambling but I think fb could very well be the worst tech invention ever made. Who is keeping track of how many relationships (including marriages) it is destroying or how many hours of your life it is taking away? How many jobs have been lost? How many friendships have been destroyed? How much anxiety has it produced? How many rumors has it developed? How many homes have been robbed? How many people have become ill/depressed/suicidal? Once you say any thought while on fb it is in print and permanent. I hope these ideas remain permanent in the minds of many people and you reconsider what you are doing (even though it appears innocent). I hate to think about what our children will have to deal with in their social network.

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  22. I just left too. "My friends list is basically a graveyard of people I have had some intereraction with in the past, some memorable, some wholly forgettable. And after they request to add me as a "friend", there is no further interaction forthcoming from them, even ON Facebook!" You could not have said it better. A waste of my time and I find that I used it out of a sense of 'unawareness'/'numbness' which certainly did not add to my spiritual life.

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  23. I just deleted my account. At first I had deactivated thinking that was the same thing but I found this post and now it has been deleted. This post rocks. I hold nothing against the tool of facebook or the creators. It just was not working out for me. Just another place for the ego to run rampant including my own.

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  24. Finally a website that you dont have to be socially plugged in somehow to post. Kudos

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  25. Excellent, well-written, and deeply thoughtful. Thank you!

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