In sports, there is a phrase known as “addition by subtraction”. This phrase exists in quite a few walks of life, but sports is where I know it from. It often refers to a team improving or adding to its chances of success by getting rid of a contributor who (while on the surface) may have seemed a perfect fit for a winning team (greatly skilled, dynamic, dominant), was actually a detriment to the team chemistry, unity, the team’s system of doing things, or the team vision. This is the kind of player that didn’t care all that much about the team’s finish, as long as their individual stats and subsequent contracts were where they needed them to be happy. If you’re a sports fan, I’m sure you can think of players like this. This pattern of behavior has also infected musical groups, TV casts, and I’ve seen it at the workplace as well.
My Facebook page is barely a day removed from “cleaning out its locker”, but I already feel more capable of being able to think about things at a longer view, and put my life and times into their proper perspective than I have in a few years. Unfortunately, I had let Facebook become the star player who’s ego completely took over what I wanted to accomplish. Whether it was getting into heated debates over only mildly interesting topics, writing action packed dramatic narratives on various topics, for the sole purpose of entertaining others, or getting into an obsessive compulsive mode of trying to explain things to people that I felt they should care about, the end results were all the same: The hurt, disappointed, frustrated version of me that’s seen a good chunk of my plans go up in smoke over the years never regrouped. I never sat down and took stock of my life, or really put real, practical thought into where I wanted to go next, what I wanted to do, what that would look like, or what steps I needed to take to make that happen.
And why should I? Facebook is the internet’s great “Cheers”. A place where everybody knows your name, your troubles, and will lend you and ear whether they mean to or not.
And man, how much easier could it be to connect to people and stay in touch?
After finally being able to leave for the final time (and having a friend change my info so I can’t ever log back on), I already see how it wasted a good 4 years of my life. 4 Years that I could’ve cultivated deeper and more meaningful real connections with real people in my general life path, and not reduced so much of the world to digital online conversations with folks that would shrug their shoulders and move on if I ever left Facebook (which is totally ok, except that I found that these were the people I was playing to). 4 years that I could have spent time thinking and meditating on my own about days events, thought things through, made better decisions, and not gone right to Facebook to see what my comfortable cast of fellow internet citizens had to chime in with, some of which I certainly did not know well enough and who did not know me well enough in the scope of some of the subject matter.
I will never say Facebook is a bad thing. I think that it serves quite a bit of good, especially in reconnecting with folks from days gone by. I have all the respect in the world for those that use it responsibly. And I will miss being out of touch once again with certain folks. But, at the same time, the world was never meant to see what the rest of the world is doing at all times. That’s not realistic.
In the day or so since I unplugged, I’ve had clearer thoughts about what I want my life to look like than I have had in a long time. (I’m also fighting a bout of strep throat, so I’ve also thought about how much we take for granted the ability to swallow food or drink without feeling that I am consuming shards of glass)
But seriously, I feel free to have the courage to face things head on, on my own, and not seek what my “viewing audience” would think or say about it, as a means of either not dealing with things, or looking for outside opinions that will support my own (often selfish) ideas. I’m ok with not having a “viewing audience” to validate me. I don’t know who will read this, or if anyone even well. Other than maybe my wife, I don’t have an advertising department.
It’s only been a day, but I already sense something different in my mental processing. The game has “slowed down”. I can take my time in things, think things through, and make good long term decisions. It’s a good thing.
Like the superstar athlete cut from the team in the prime of their career to the bewilderment of a lot of the fans, the team has their reasons for such actions. The ownership and management of the team will be there long after any single player is. (usually). It is up to them to protect the interests of the team and always be looking at the big picture.
Now that I finally gave Facebook their walking papers, I feel that I have the chance to build something really good, and better then before.