As I write, my laptop screen is split between this and Facebook.
The open window is of a Facebook status I made in 2009, in which I use vulgar language to describe how irate I am that Internet trolls were bullying a then 15-year-old Justin Bieber about his love life.
(Belieber ’til I die.) I called “them” haters (except I spelled it with a “z,” because you know, 2009). Underneath my less-than-tactful words against the cyber bullying of the Biebs is a picture of my niece from when she was five—an awkward juxtaposition.
Slowly, I’ve been deleting statuses and friends. It started with birthdays. When Facebook would notify me today was a distant acquaintance’s birthday or a random friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend I bonded with at a party one time turned 26 today, I’d use the opportunity to unfriend. From Facebook and therefore, from my life.
I’ve made it my resolution to not just minimize my network of “friends,” but to also more heavily monitor what it is I’ve been uploading to Facebook all these years.
Each time I started a job, it only took a few days for my new co-workers to find me on FB. (And how do you say “no” to a friend request from someone you see every day?) Instantly, these people—who should really only know me in a work capacity—now had unique access to my college years, the news stories I chose to share (if you think I was quiet on social media in the wake of the Brock Turner sentencing, I wasn’t), and endless photos of my nieces.
There’s more to my decision to delete than some minor oversharing with co-workers. When I began looking at my wall and all of the content I’ve willingly doling out over the years—my feelings, my thoughts, family photos, statuses of grief, worry, and confusion, I couldn’t remember the reason why I felt the need to share in the first place.
More often than not, I’ll look at an old post and think, “What compelled me to share this? I genuinely can’t remember why I wanted to.”
I’ve been sharing on Facebook since 2007. That’s nine years worth of content aggregated. That’s a lot of information. Too much. Pictures of me from when I had braces, from when I gained the freshman 15, moody statuses I couldn’t remember the motivation for…
The overwhelming emotion I felt while scrolling through it all was the desire to, moving forward, show the world as little of my personal life as possible. If I want to blog or tweet or run my Instagram, that’s fine as long as I put boundaries in place.
I’ve deleted (or hid from my timeline) all of 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. All my albums are emptied. Videos posted in 2009 have been backed up but deleted. Photos that auto uploaded from iOs and Mobile Uploads (back before I had an iPhone) have been erased.
I’d like to better handle how much of my life lives eternally on the Internet. Facebook is great for promoting things I’m proud of–like an interview I did or an article I wrote, but I no longer feel the need to share about my personal achievements. Things like renting a new apartment, moving to a new city, or shaving a full minute off my mile time are things I’ll experience for myself and with the people who choose to communicate with me off-screen.
I’ll save personal stuff for my actual life. If someone wants to know what’s going on it, then they are more than welcome to be a part of it, but they’ll have to do more work than just surveying my wall to “get the scoop” on me. They’ll have to pick up a phone, make a call, or show up for me in my regular life.