Day 12 Me and Facebook, we’re just on a break

Last night I was accused of cheating because I’ve not permanently deleted my Facebook account, and it’s not the first time I’ve been labelled a Facebook fake. A recent comment suggested that I’m still on Facebook by proxy, given that some of my stuff here appears on Facebook and links are put up to this blog. I think the two “accusations” are different, but in the same territory, which is … have I really split up with Facebook?

So how did Facebook and I part? Well to recap: I de-activated my account some twelve days ago. Whether you flounce off facebook as I did, or perhaps decide to leave after careful consideration, which I did not, then you have two options offered by the Fb team. You can delete your account which means that you lose everything and can’t resuscitate the corpse of your profile, or you can choose the “deactivate” option which allows you to put the whole thing into a cryogenic state. Because I’m as good at dumping lovers as I am staying gone when I leave, I chose the easy way out and deactivated. And if you try to leave Facebook too, you’ll understand. It’s not easy.

When you decide to dump the number one social network, they don’t go quietly. First of all, while deactivating your account appears as an option under account settings, permanent deletion requires you to apply in writing. I couldn’t face writing a ‘Dear John’, so I went for deactivation. But this comes at a price: your teary soon-to-be-ex-Facebook takes the news badly; they grab your hand, pleading with you to reconsider. First of all, they list all the people that will miss you if you go. No, really they do. Then they show photos of your friends and suggest that you send them a message (hoping, I suppose that they’ll stage a mini-intervention and talk you out of it).

When Facebook realises that you’ve actually made up your mind; that you really are going to leave them, that the game is up, they start warning you of the enormity of your decision. They get a bit snippy, resentful even, telling you that “Deactivating your account will disable your profile and remove your name and picture from anything you’ve shared on Facebook.” This is when I started to wobble – I very nearly didn’t do it. But, I knew it was over between us and I continued. Of course Facebook wouldn’t accept it; choking back the tears they demanded to know the reasons. Were they being too in my face, you know, with all the emails and invitations and requests? Didn’t I feel safe in their arms? Was I two-timing them with another Facebook account? God enough already with the questions! But still they came. Was the whole thing too overwhelming for me – did I not understand how to relate to them?

And then the million dollar question, option 6: was my leaving “temporary” would I be back?. I just clicked it, I clicked option 6 and I ran out of there, I couldn’t tell them I how long I’d be gone, and to be honest I don’t know. But that get out clause was all I needed. And while Dave kept his resolve in Space Odyssy and pulled the plug forever on Hal, I just ran for it, promising I’d be in touch, that we were just on a break.

And option 6 is tempting in more ways than one. Think of it this way. You are having a hard time in your life, maybe your partner’s getting on your nerves, maybe you hate your job, perhaps you just need a breather. If you walk out on everything, then there’s every chance by the time you’ve finished sowing your wild oats or finding yourself, the life you left won’t be there when you get back. How alluring then to have the option to stop time: there’s your partner at the dinner table droning on about their day or your boss is giving you shit about something you don’t even care about and you can press a button and the whole thing would stop. Silence. Stasis. And you can just walk out the door. It may be hard, you may miss your life terribly, but you’ve got it all on hold, just waiting for you to return. It’s the ultimate solipsist’s fantasy. Obviously the clear difference here is that while my profile remains static, everyone else’s continue to change, but I like the idea that I can pick up “me” where I left off, no bridges burnt, even if I do have to play catch up with everyone else.

So Facebook, I’m sorry I had to go, I know you’re upset, but we’re just on a break.

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