virtual life + leaving the book of faces
Last year, one of the best things I did was to finally extricate myself from the brain-vacuum that is Facebook - now known as “meta” - a rebrand that was necessary because … even they realize everyone hates them?
Way back in October 2020, when they first announced some dystopian changes to their terms-of-service, I began deleting almost all my content there, spanning back to May 2009.
I left groups, removed pages and posts, and as a final, no-turning-back-now step, I deleted almost all of my 1500-something “friends”.
That may sound extreme - but I actually love the internet and social media in general.
Let me explain…
I grew up pre-internet, in the middle of nowhere.
Thank Goddess my father was interested enough in computers to get dial-up internet in 1993.
I was all about AOL chat rooms, eager to read any blog I came across, and searched the infant-internet for any and every topic that fascinated me.
Back then it wasn't unreasonable to think you could read everything there was to read on the internet about a particular subject.
I was always an early adopter of any tech that allowed me to connect with people outside of my small town, where the army, church, and football seemed to be the main things people were interested in (barf).
I lived in the country, and wasn’t allowed to learn how to drive until I was 18.
Then, I was instantly married with children, and my then-husband controlled the finances, and didn’t see technology or the internet as worth paying for.
Lacking access to the internet meant I was isolated and cut off from anything that might inspire me to want more + better.
When I finally got DSL internet, it felt like I'd been starved for air my whole life, and I was finally able to expand my lungs to a whole new capacity I'd never felt before.
So many people to talk to, so many perspectives to drink in!
Sure, it wasn't IN-PERSON connection...but it was better than anything else I had access to at the time.
Having access to like-minded friends on message boards and social media saved me.
They weren't "just internet friends".
In 2007, my online friends on forums and message boards were a lifeline that I connected with daily. I even met one of these amazing women over 10 years later.
For so many years, all my best friends, my “real” friends - lived in the computer.
I met my husband on MySpace - before dating sites were A Thing, at a time when regular folks still thought it was dodgy and weird to meet up with strangers from the world wide web…
One of the main features of my adult life is that - until fairly recently - I did not have many in-person friendships.
When the world went sideways and everyone stayed home … we were already used to socializing online, so it was a little disconcerting to see the rest of the world FREAKING OUT about the prospect of not being around people as much or as often.
Do you remember when the internet was only for tech-geeks, and not something grandmas use to gamble on gems in iPhone games?
Do you remember a time when podcasts were weird and confusing, and you had to download them off obscure websites and manually drag and drop them onto your .mp3 player?
I used to try to listen to PotterCast - a Harry Potter fan broadcast - if my crappy dial-up would actually allow me to fetch the entire episode.
In fact, I once took a tally and realized that virtually every meaningful friendship or connection in our lives could be traced back to someone I first met online!
Way before Facebook took over everyone’s brainspace - I was blogging and posting on forums, and happily learning basic HTML skills to personlize my MySpace profile and add video players.
Those HTML skills later came in handy for various jobs online.
The Unschooling dot com forums …
The HIM Street Team on MySpace …
The Rethinking Everything Conference …
Radiant Retreat …
Birth Without Fear …
The Leaky Cauldron forums …
Leonie Dawson’s Goddess Circle (and later her Shining Academy) …
The Mothering dot commune forums …
Natural Child project …
even the FlyLady forums (sheesh, back in 2002 - ?)
Each of these were real, thriving communities that meant so much to me!
However, at the time of publishing this post, it has been 684 days since March 10, 2020 - and the collective still hasn’t begun to properly mourn what we’ve lost in the time since.
Regardless of what’s transpired in your life during the past two years, I think we can all agree that living a virtual life falls far short of Real, In-Person human connection.
We are not meant to live or learn in isolation long-term. It stunts growth, connection, and empathy.
My blog is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.