I am contemplating opening a new Facebook account. I deleted my account a little less than a year ago. I have a love/hate relationship with the platform. I think, for me, deleting my account was similar to my real life tendency to avoid social interaction. I want to avoid drama and judgment and downward spirals of self-loathing generated by obsessive-compulsive observation of and comparison to the “other.”
The thing is–I am at a place in my writing journey in which I see how a Facebook account could generate forward progress to my overarching goals. Since beginning work on my novel, I have created a YouTube account, followed by Instagram, and eventually I opened a Twitter account, all in hopes of attracting an audience for my work. Growth is occurring at a snail’s pace, which is frustrating, but I really do believe I produce quality content. I think my numbers have remained low because I do not have a network of people to commune with in real life.
At present, I have two goals: 1. to grow an audience for the content I produce online, as well as for the novel I intend to publish; and 2. to find artistic and writing communities, as well as opportunities to market myself and my work in real life. From past experience, I know that Facebook is headquarters to many real life communities and organizations, which utilize the platform for communications with members. My thinking is that if I re-enter the Facebook realm, I can find my real life audience and community. But at what cost?
Since I deleted my original Facebook account, less than a year ago, my thinking, my faith, my perception of myself and others has undergone irreversible transformation. My trepidation with re-subscribing is that people who know/have known me will have to meet the new me. If my purpose is to use the platform to build my audience, then I have to openly and unapologetically embrace who I am and what I believe (and don’t believe) on said platform. In so doing, there will be consequences, and I think I have been hanging on to the fantasy that I can hide myself from certain people and communities from my past, so as not to offend them or suffer judgment from them. The reality is, however, that I cannot hide myself forever–or else, I must abandon the goals I have for my creative endeavors. To pursue my goals, I must freely reveal my authentic self to the world, in spite of the fact that I am likely to face alienation and/or reprobation. As scary as it is, I feel my re-entry to the behemoth platform is a symbolic gesture for me. It will be my most public proclamation of all that I am and all that I believe, to date.
Yet there are other risks of rejoining Facebook. How does one avoid getting sucked back into the unending vortex of compulsive feed checks, page snoops, and comparative investigation that engenders abominable self-talk and invalidation?! How does one set necessary boundaries to prevent the use of the platform from deteriorating pre-existing, invaluable real life relationships? This is something I must consider. Is it possible to be on social media without becoming contaminated by it? Is it possible to inspire a social media counter-culture?
Prior to scribing this post, I listened to my favorite podcast, The Fundamentalists, specifically, episode 51 called “The Psychic Vampire of Civilization.” Peter Rollins refers to the book Civilization and It’s Discontent by Sigmund Freud, “Civilization creates discontent and then discontent can help reform civilization.” This is my goal. I am not just writing to cure my own psychosis. This is part of why I write, but I also write to bring awareness–to the negative effects of fundamentalist religious culture on vulnerable minds–to the problem of rampant sexual assault culturally–to the ills of purity culture, which intertwines so intricately with rape culture, and to bring hope–that all is not lost on the other side of faith/religion. My novel is a poignantly symbolic embodiment of these insights, but my YouTube channel and blog provide more overt reflections directly from my experience. I think it is all worth sharing, if the content can liberate a few.
So, is re-entry to Facebook worth the cost? Can I manage the risks in pursuit of the rewards? This remains to be determined. If anyone reading has any advice as to how to manage the platform to prevent a deteriorated quality of real life, I would love to entertain your insights. Please comment with any and all methods of developing and maintaining healthy social media boundaries.