Disconnected Online

For the past few weeks I have been on my personal Facebook only a handful of times. I deleted all my public social media accounts and reduced my Facebook friends list tremendously. I deleted about 3/4 of my friends list.

A lot of things happened at once that caused me to make the choice to get off everything. The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain set it off. Everyone was talking about suicide and a lot of the people talking have no idea what it is like to deal with a mentally ill person or what it is like being the mother of someone who dies by suicide, specifically, what it is like to be me. I know people have good intentions, but what really helps suicide survivors and people dealing with mental illness is to not be treated like we are all the same and to listen to us and our lived experiences instead of talking to “experts” or blogging your opinion on the subject if you have no personal experience with suicide loss. And even if you do have experience, do not speak for my experience.

Then there was the brutal murder of a young man in the Bronx that was captured on video. I was just scrolling through my Instagram when I came across the video. The entire thing shook me to my core even more than seeing my own son’s lifeless body in my garage. People literally just walked by and did nothing to help a boy yelling for his life. Men in the bodega just watched as he was dragged out of there by his jacket. He looked a lot like Anthony to me and watching that video fucked me up. After seeing it, I decided that I was done with social media.

In the weeks since I feel better in a lot of ways. I am not angry all the time, I don’t know what Trump had for breakfast today and why we are so pissed about it and I do not wonder why so and so comments on everyone’s status but mine and who has me hidden from their feed. I just live my life.

My brain isn’t used to it though and I have to stop myself from seeing every moment as a social media moment. I don’t have to take pictures of everything and come up with the perfect caption but my brain still does it because it thinks that is what we do. Also, I don’t have to type up every single thought in my head which actually helps me think more instead of just vomiting my thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. I am actually just existing and not working towards likes, zingers, retweets or getting more followers. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, all of those things fed my pride, insecurities and my constant feeling of not being good enough. I didn’t even realize that until I logged out.

Another thing I’ve figured out in the last few weeks of social media withdrawal is how hard it is to maintain friendships without it. First of all, people get seriously mad when you delete them from Facebook. Which is weird. When did we all sign a social contract saying if we aren’t Facebook friends then we aren’t friends at all? Secondly, it is a lot of work to text, email and meet for lunch or coffee to maintain that friendship. More work than clicking a quick “like” or leaving an emoji on a picture.

It’s also a lot more work to maintain vulnerability without social media and to be authentically vulnerable. It is much easier to throw out one vulnerable status or tweet or IG caption and see who of your friends responds with love rather than reach out to one person and not have them respond. I have been left hanging in texts & emails a lot of times these past few weeks and that never happens on my social media. Someone will always respond to whatever I post, so it’s “safe”. No risk of feelings of rejection or abandonment that may or may not even be anywhere other than my own mind.

We make time for what we care for and I think that social media has made us all feel connected and made us think that we are building all these friendships but the truth is that we are actually more disconnected than ever. How many times have I told my kids “hang on” while I type away at my phone in some heated argument on social media? How many times have I swatted away real life and real connections so that i could make a perfect IG post with filters and pictures of moments to make it seem like I am living life with connections? Too many to count.

Now that I’m texting one person at a time, making one lunch/coffee date at a time and building one friendship at a time, I see how much time and energy it takes. And I also see how some people don’t think I am worth their time and energy. Which is ok because I don’t think we are made to have 100 close friends. Jesus only had 12. You can love someone, want the best for them, catch up with them here and there and pray for them without being their close friend. Social media has killed our ability to do that in real and authentic ways and instead we just reduce every relationship down to likes and retweets.

This has also taught me a lot about my relationship with God. How lazy I’ve been in it. How much I fail to cultivate and maintain it. I find it frustrating to spend time building my relationship with Him because I don’t take the time to build one with anybody. I don’t know how. And if I don’t know how to build one with God, I certainly do not know how to with anyone else which really explains so much about my life.

So that’s what I’m doing. Building relationships. First with God and then with everyone else around me. My husband, my kids and those who build me up because they truly love me and want the best for me. Whose friendships help me heal instead of feed the worst of me. I feel as if Anthony’s suicide was a fire that burnt my entire life down and now it is time to rebuild it one relationship at a time.

12 thoughts on “Disconnected Online

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve been thinking about limiting my time on social media and this gives me another viewpoint.


  2. Truth. All of it. People really don’t want to hear that social media has deprived them of the ability to have genuine interactions. I too kicked social media, all of it, this past year after the traumatic loss of my sister. It had started to feel like a codependent relationship where we were all keeping each other sick by applauding everyone’s worst inclinations. For all the “growth, community and catharsis” it was supposed to be providing everyone (myself included) seemed to be happily stagnant in the same old behaviors and complaints. It brought me down and was impacting my ability to evaluate people and relationships on an actual face-to-face basis. Out of all the “relationships” I spent waaay too much time “building,” only three have remained and were reciprocal. I’ve come to believe that social media is the emotional equivalent to easy sex. Everyone thinks it’s great and free but in the end the price is the same, people become incapable of real intimacy.


  3. Great job!!!!! You have it more clear than most people!!!!!!! At some point of my life I made the same decision. Why do I have so many friends on Facebook if they are not my real friends? I deleted most of them. Now I use Facebook as a news reader. Not to like people’s posts but to read Catholic content and local news. I barely post something once in… 3 or 4 months? I post on Instagram only when I feel like to. I mostly have “nature” pics. Trees, rain, mountains… Things like that.
    And… I know why that video shocked you. Those videos shouldn’t be allowed on social media. There are multiple things that can trigger a trauma. One of them is to see someone being hurt, and being unable to help. It’s morbid to share that kind of content. You had the reaction a normal person should have. A normal person knows they should help a person in trouble, bc they could be one of their relatives. A normal, empathic person knows that’s wrong, and feels emotional pain. I think about what you saw and it makes me very sad and angry, bc no one helped the boy. That’s emotional pain 😉 it’s absolutely normal. A psychopathic reaction to something like that is to watch and give a damn, or worse, enjoy it. If you ever get back to social media, try to protect your mind. Not bc you’ll be more vulnerable than others or not, it’s just about peace of mind. I avoid getting into discussions I know go nowhere, bc they know they won’t change their mind. There’s so many people on social media fighting just bc they want to. It’s their method of getting rid of stress. I won’t eat their anger.
    So… I totally approve your decision. I think you are in the right way! Healing can be a long, exhausting process, and sometimes it feels like we’re taking one step forward, and then 2 backwards. I’m on it too. But still, you’re in the right way.


  4. Yes, thank you for sharing. I have some disconnected feelings as well, like maybe I’m not being a good friend. I’m probably not. I just haven’t taken the time to examine it. I will say a prayer for Anthony tonight. Many blessings.


  5. Leticia, you are a blessing to so many. I am drawn to your words. I pray you have one or two true close friends that you can call any time of the day or night. That would be a gold mine. Yes, social media has especially sucked up my time that should be spent in God’s Word and praying. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Lord, help me to always put YOU first!!

    I have my personal experience with suicide and abortion and depression. You are right…..NOBODY can speak for me on those topics. I have amazing compassion for others walking in those shoes though. You are so real and tender. I pray that you get stronger and stronger physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I know we will meet someday. If not here on earth, in heaven. Wishing you God’s precious peace.

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  6. I got rid of all my social media accounts except for twitter a little more than a year ago. Like a junkie I’ve occasionally relapsed here and there but have been “sober” for a good 5 months now. It saved my marriage and prob my soul too. I only follow people on twitter connected to Faith or people who post material or content that I find interesting or agree with, for too long I used social media to fuel my sex addiction. Now I only use twitter to further causes I’m passionate about and deepen my faith. Love you writing and enjoy your blog immensely, so happy you are continuing it even though u are missed on twitter. Keep it up that book of yours will happen and you can count me as a customer.


  7. I read a quote once that goes something like this: if the people that had invented the internet had been on the internet the internet would have never been invented. Truth.

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