Why I’m (Pretty Much) Leaving Facebook (Sort of)

Burn Baby, Burn

I’m leaving Facebook for the foreseeable future. I can’t completely exit business-wise, but personally I’m outta there. There’s a number of reasons as to why, but the main gist has to do with being an extremely sensitive human who feels overwhelming anxiety while using the platform. Although I’m very opinionated and out there as a performer/ arts advocate/ community organizer, the stress induced from simply looking at my newsfeed creates a tumultuous inner conflict.

In the last couple years I’ve had multiple miscommunications that have been beyond frustrating. Interactions which caused me to stew and lose sleep. I enjoy a good debate, but the turns that some of these (if you can even call them) dialogues have taken has felt more like attacks and subsequent reactions to those attacks from both sides. It’s ugly. It’s painful. It’s the opposite of what I want in my life.

At the same time I’ve continued to deepen relationships with some phenomenal individuals. I’m pondering how to engage those long distance friendships without the stress and limitations of social media. One way is by starting a weekly personal check in through TinyLetter. A short “This is what I’ve been thinking about/ feeling/ wondering.” Differentiating from the traditional blog post, I want to make sure that people who I care about — and who care about me — know what I’m up to. If others dig that, who I don’t know very well, that’s fine too. If people write to me based on this and we keep connecting, all the better.

I’m lost as to how I will promote my performing arts events without Facebook. Part of me wants to go on, create an event, invite people and click out of the tab. To hope that it encourages people to come. Another part of me wants a clean break and to just deal with the consequences, knowing that I will lose potential audience and outreach in the process.

The fact is that I’ve become reliant on a network that hoards and mines data, that uses my likes and commentary as a method to profile my consumption habits. I jump on for quick insights into the world, when most are half ass clickbait. I get disappointed when I pour my heart out, and no one responds enough. This last election cycle was one of the most anxiety inducing times for the American public and social media just compounded the confusion and cesspool-like activity. Social media has become a disappointing friend. I need a break from our toxic relationship.

I survived well into my early 30s without Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m a stage artist. I’m all about in-person, face to face communication. There is no substitute and never will be. I’m lucky that I live in a place that feels like home with an incredible community of people I really adore; that I have an extension of home through places I’ve lived and performed in. It’s not as if these connections somehow disappear because I’m not taking part in something that literally makes me nauseous.

Things I’m going to focus on instead:

  • Finishing the three parts of this damn book I’m writing.
  • Figuring out the next stage of my development as a performer as I shift from purely solo performer to more collaborative projects and immersive dialogue experiments. This includes having conversations with peers on how I can be of service to the performing arts landscape overall.
  • Getting Mass Collaborative (which Easthampton Co.Lab is a project of) the proper foundation so that we can fine tune our offerings of facilitated and designed conversations for local organizations with specific challenges.
The tagline for Easthampton Co.Lab, where I’m spending and investing a lot of my time.

It’s going to take some time in order for me to completely phase out my use. I’ve used Facebook for years as a way to interact socially, engage others, and maintain friendships. Easthampton Co.Lab uses it as a way to get the word out about our events and membership, and so I can’t completely exit because I’m in charge of social media. However, the negatives outweigh the positives for me personally. I can’t keep wondering if someone is mad at me because I commented to them directly under an ongoing conversation and they suddenly stopped responding. I don’t want to bare my soul and have it misinterpreted in the way only Facebook can provide. I don’t want to have to leave Groups continually because they become one-way monologues that are completely off-topic.

Instead, I’ll see how this TinyLetter thing goes for a bit. I’ll text and call my friends directly. I’ll post here on Medium in more of a blog format on a variety of topics. I’ll actually get to work on what I want to work on without distractions. I’ll go on fact checking sites to see what’s going on in the world, instead of down a rabbit hole of widely shared articles. I’ll find out about events through others and the email newsletters I’m signed up for. I’ll get off this damn machine more. It’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Sign up for my new TinyLetter thing, go to my main performance site, read some essays that I’ve done for HowlRound, and for the love of all that’s holy don’t friend me on Facebook.