Anh, San Francisco:
I have a love-but-mostly-hate relationship with Facebook. Barring all the political stuff going on, which I would put in the hate column, firstly I love finding my long-lost friends and keeping up with my cousins. That was awesome. But then I realized I was getting my feelings hurt if I didn’t get enough “likes” on something I posted. It started to seem to me like it was a popularity contest and I was losing. And I’m in my mid-’50s. Also, I got tired of seeing what distant acquaintances were making for dinner or what nail polish they’d picked. It just seemed so irrelevant to my life. And adding on to that … I feel like we’re just monologuing each other. It’s not a dialogue. I say, “Oh I feel this way about something,” and somebody else says something totally different, and we’re not really interacting. Also, the friend request thing just cracks me up. I have a neighbor who will hardly acknowledge me on the sidewalk, but asked me to be friends on Facebook, and he won’t even say “hi.” So I don’t know, I would give it a thumbs down, all-in-all.
Chris, San Francisco:
I think Facebook is bad for my life. About a week ago I actively began a digital decluttering campaign for myself. So no more New York Times on the app, or Netflix or Fargo Season 2, and definitely no more Facebook. I think my phone had become a magnet for my attention and Facebook was one of the ones that threw me in the most. The likes, comments and updates, I think, have become really addicting. Seeing those little red numbers just sucked me [at] every moment. Digital decluttering was really hard for me. But I’m one week in and I feel really good. I think I feel free and alive like I haven’t in a while. I spend more time just thinking or reading and talking to people. My whole spirit has lifted in a way. I don’t miss the updates, or shared articles or viral videos. I really look forward to calling someone when I have something to share. So overall Facebook has not been good for me and being away from it has been really great. The only irony is this whole digital decluttering and being away from Facebook was prompted by, you guessed it, an article I read on Facebook.
I rely on Facebook to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances in various social circles. Friends and family from past jobs. With messenger it’s easy to find folks. It’s easy to use. It’s essentially a tool that helps me manage multiple conversations at once. Starting and stopping them, allowing me to express myself as much or as little as I want. So it’s definitely a great tool and something I couldn’t live without.
Facebook [makes] my life better. I always enjoy getting to see distant friends who live far away. I get to see what they’re up to, I get to see their babies growing up, get to see people’s photos from their trips. Facebook made my life worse because often times when I’m scrolling through my feed there is a lot of upsetting things I see from family members that I disagree with and articles that may be important but with upsetting subject matter. And when I’m on Facebook I’m usually alone and I don’t have anyone to discuss that stuff at that moment. I do not engage and leave comments on Facebook, it feels to public and not intimate enough to have those conversations. So often I leave the app feeling anxious and not as good as before I was on it. So it’s a mixed bag for me. Facebook has helped me connect with friends but it also brings a lot of anxiety into my life.
Jon, San Francisco:
It keeps me connected with friends I don’t see as much and friends that I do see. I get to see their everyday lives with what they post online. I don’t buy into a lot of the political stuff that’s posted. I keep track of family and friends on Facebook. Other than that it’s social media. I get to see what friends are doing. It might be as old as highschool friends, and new friends or coworkers I’ve met in the industry I’ve worked in. But I don’t put a lot of weight into what people post politically. Maybe a little more socially, social media stuff like Black Lives Matter, the student from Florida and their gun control. Those register with me because I have a family, I have kids. I don’t buy into a lot of political stuff that’s posted because I don’t know how true it is, how accurate it is. I use Facebook to keep track of friends, family and what they’re doing in their everyday lives that I don’t get to see. We live in an ever growing world, socially. We all live in different places and I like to see what they’re up to. It keeps me in touch with people I don’t get to talk to everyday.
Rebecca, Santa Rosa:
Facebook makes my life worse because it perpetuates a culture of comparison that just keeps me further from the best version of myself that I feel I already am. So I don’t keep the app on my phone and I don’t save it in my browser and I feel like that gives me just enough time to pause and consider whether or not I need it as a tool for connection or whether there’s a better more immediate way that I can connect with my family, my friends and my community around me. And usually there is. So I try to pick up the phone, and give people more hugs when I see them, and that to me is just the better way to go.