I’ve spent the last few years going back and forth on whether or not I should delete Facebook. Not just delete the app from my phone. I’ve done that multiple times. I mean erase my profile entirely. Remove all my pictures, posts, and everything associated with it. The idea started as a small whisper in my mind–something easily brushed away. As the months and years have passed, the whisper grew and grew until it was shouting. Now I am finally listening.
I never wanted to join Facebook. When it comes to social media, I was reluctant at best. I started my social media footprint on Livejournal. I was friends with maybe ten people. I wrote long entries that were angsty and honest. I was a teenager in the 2000s. Together with those ten people, we were a close group that talked often. Then, as the Internet began to evolve, I watched as those close Livejournal friends slowly migrated to MySpace. I was one of the last ones. I hated that the focus of MySpace wasn’t the writing aspect. Instead, it was about who your Top Friends were and what interests you listed. It felt so fake.
But by then I was in high school. A lot of my social life was already online. MySpace had the added element of every one of my peers being present. If you didn’t have one, you were invisible. So I got one. Reluctantly. I promised I would keep up with my LiveJournal, but I didn’t. Social Media is taxing. Keeping up with multiple platforms was too much. Plus, I eventually realized MySpace had a lot of cool things. I could have music play for anyone visiting my page. I could customize the background and the buttons. I was able to make it my own personal page in a way I never had with LiveJournal.
I graduated high school in 2007. By then I was already seeing MySpace decay. Facebook had crashed into the scene and everybody was moving on over. I hated it. I hadn’t even wanted to move over the MySpace. Facebook seemed even worse. You couldn’t customize anything. It incentived shorter entries because they were more likely to get “likes.” I was nostalgic for my close-knot LiveJournal community that would engage in open and honest discussions about life. It felt like it was being replaced by a corporate monster that incentived the wrong behaviors. I held off for as long as I could.
I joined Facebook three weeks before Obama was elected president in 2008. I remember hearing that people were posting a lot of political things on Facebook. That, mixed with the loneliness of the post high school world, forced me into the realm of Facebook. It was another version of go with the times or be ostracized. Being a kid who stayed in his hometown for college already made me feel ostracized. I didn’t want that to get any worse.
Much like with my LiveJournal, my Myspace account fell into disuse. I went looking for them not to long ago. I found them–with broken links and so many changes. But they are still there like some historical part of the early internet. Now eleven years have passed. Facebook still reigns. There are other Social Media websites. I’ve tried many. The thing is, I still miss what social media meant for me 15 years ago. Keeping up to date with 5-20 of my closest people. Like, really keeping up with them. Knowing what they are going through. How they were really feeling.
That whisper has been in the back of my mind for years. It has waxed and waned with time. I’ll get in a political fight with my brother-in-law and wonder why I have a Facebook at all. Then I announce to the world that Sofia and I are expecting and the support reminds me why I keep it around. But then my unborn son was diagnosed with Gastroschisis. That is when everything changed for me.
Much like my long LiveJournal entries from my teenage years, I still write to sort out what is going on in my head. I often share what I write because I like my close friends and family to understand my thought process. So, when we found out we would be facing an uphill battle with our unborn son, I started writing. And then I started posting. Not to Facebook. But to my modern equivalent of LiveJournal–this website.
The response I received was unlike anything I expected. I was so used to “likes” and “congratulations” that I forgot what it was like to have have an in-depth relationship with my close friends and family members. I was able to keep people updated with what was going on while also being open about what Sofia and I were going through. It gave me a connection to the people who couldn’t be present through that journey.
By the time Henry was released from Children’s Hospital of Colorado in January of this year, I knew that my days on Facebook were limited. It all felt so false. To top it off, the whole Cambridge Analytica, Russian Interference, and Facebook literally doing nothing about it were at the back of my mind. The thing is, I was pretty busy with a new house and a newborn. I didn’t feel like I truly had the time to make the transition. So the idea kind of faded from my mind.
It’s not so much that any one thing has pushed me over the line. The biggest development for me is that my son is becoming aware of screens. He sees me when I am on my phone. I have become quite aware of my time on the phone and my desire to limit that time–especially in his presence. I want to raise him in a world where technology is limited and positive. Not overwhelming and addictive. And to encourage that, I have to live it.
I talked with Sofia about this a few hours ago. She asked if there was anything holding me back anymore. I realized that I did not. I’ve pretty much made up my mind. I want to write about my life in long-form. I expect only those closest to me to keep up with this website. And I will have more time to try to keep up with those closest to me. Not through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. But through direct communication or blogs.
I am downloading my Facebook information as I write this. In the coming days, I will let those closest to me know that I will be deleting Facebook and that RichardThomasReilly.com is the best place to stay updated. Sofia will remain on Facebook, so pictures of Henry and our growing family won’t be gone entirely.
If you have any questions about the process of deleting Facebook, let me know.