The Great Debut – or – In Which I Explain Why I Have Withdrawn from Facebook.

Warning: if great gushes of self-pity (although cleverly presented) make you feel uncomfortable you might want to skip reading this one. I’ll be funnier next time!

After five years of faithful oversharing, I have withdrawn myself from facebook. Here is why.

I want to avoid the following unpleasant things:

  • Seeing photos of myself taken from above and behind (as from the balcony) while I am conducting, in which I appear tiny and squat, actually wider than I am tall, with comically short legs, pitifully thick ankles and the stance of a prison guard. These photos are second in horribleness only to photos taken from below and behind (as from the front row when I am on a stage) which feature a shape absolutely beyond description that does not at all reflect the mental image I have of myself, not even the mental image that I thought had been generously adjusted for grossly optimistic errors in self-perception.
  • Reading posts about other people’s children happily enjoying educational and enriching activities that I never provided for my own children. These show undeniable proof of my neglect and bad parenting and I can spend entire afternoons lost in despair over the resulting certain, permanent emotional scarring. Thank goodness facebook wasn’t around when my children were young or I’d doubtless have neglected them even more.
  • Happening unexpectedly upon photos of parties to which my family was not invited, proudly presented in albums titled something like ‘Every Single Person We Love Helping Us Celebrate!’ with all of our friends so thoroughly tagged that I spend the next three days hunkered down wincing in a stinging hail storm of like and comment notifications.
  • On a related note, NOT seeing photos of parties to which my family was not invited but which I know about because of the artful, deliberate leaking of a single party photo which is the only one available for me to view even though it belongs to an album titled something like ‘Absolutely Every Friend We Have Spending a Delightful Summer Evening at Our Beautiful Home – 54 photos.’ This is actually worse than the openly posted party albums because the fact that I am blocked from seeing the rest of the album removes any lingering hope that maybe we were accidentally overlooked.
  • Waking up in the morning feeling happy, fit, accomplished, contented and loved, then spending eight minutes at the computer and collapsing into a puddle of self-pity because I am fat, shapeless, ordinary, lazy, old, talentless and friendless. (Even though I know perfectly well that I am fat, shapeless, extraordinary, extremely motivated when I feel like it, simply awash with talent and well-supplied with friends.) Then spending two more hours deliberately seeking out things that I know will make me feel even worse – for instance, having another look at the party photos.

I’m not exactly a helpless victim though. Honesty compels me to admit that I’ve perversely turned right around and committed facebook rudenesses of my own that I should have been smacked for, actions so mean I feel them killing a little part of my soul every time I do them. Here are some examples:

  • Writing a happy, breezy status and then sitting with my hand on the mouse ready to click Post as soon as the green light comes on by the name of a person who I know will be most seriously annoyed by the status I am posting, so that they will be certain to see it right away.*
  • Following a private argument between two people in the comments on a post which is no business of mine and eventually becoming so enraged at one of them who has taken a stance which I know to be completely stupid, wrong, misguided and (I tell myself) truly evil that I can’t stop myself from jumping in screaming with a defense on behalf of the other that is neither wanted nor needed, and not just a polite and simple defense, but a sharp and spiky one that bludgeons the poor (wrong thinking) commenter about the head and shoulders with words that they probably don’t even know what mean and finally fells them with a blast of irony that they probably don’t understand and most certainly do not deserve. In the interest of full disclosure I should note that these poor people are often only friends-of-friends, that is, I don’t even know them.
  • Pretending to be above humblebragging but then spending whole quarter hours composing a puke-makingly self-deprecating Wodehousian tangle of prepositions, modifiers and snobby British spellings to serve as the elaborately casual setting for a yelp of triumph that a kinder and more honest person would simply phrase something like ‘We are so proud of our son who has been accepted to Yale! #soblessed.’
  • And then spending whole additional quarter hours hypocritically bashing people who say #soblessed.

Removing myself from facebook is for more than my own protection, you see.  It’s for everyone’s.

So that’s why I’m here instead. If you think you might enjoy what I have to say you are more than welcome to return every week, and if you think you won’t then it’s up to you to stay away. And invite your friends (if you like it, that is).  And do comment, please. It is most unrewarding making jokes to an audience who just will not laugh, as I know from my other life. Feed the ego, and I’ll write some more.

What can you expect to find here? These topics among others may be touched on:

  • Books I like and why you should like them too.
  • Music I like and music I love to hate, with extensive and entertaining explanations as to why. Under this heading look for my open letters to WCRB, which are most unsporting because I don’t actually send WCRB the letters.
  • Essays on my experience of slithering helplessly down the far side of Mt. Fifty while trying to keep an expression on my face that says, more or less convincingly, “I meant to do that!”
  • Snippets of memories couched in phrases of possibly the thickest, most sentimental emotional manipulation you’ve ever experienced; you’ll feel as if you’re reading through an amber filter and if I do my job right you might actually cry.
  • Accounts of family outings in which plans go awry. That would be every family outing.
  • Weaknesses in my character revealed not to be faults but in fact to be endearing and even desirable quirks.
  • Lists that seem random but are in fact carefully contrived to give structure to unconnected things I would like to show off my esoteric knowledge about, such as for instance a list of things I like that begin with the letter P, or maybe a variation on that staple of the ‘everyone’s a poet!’ school of poetry, the acrostic poem.
  • Opinions. (Really?) But not political opinions. Not because I don’t have them, but because I’m a coward.
  • Rants, but not nasty ones. I can be very snarky but I never swear in print.

In conclusion, I understand that the extent to which I have self-analyzed and the amount of time I have spent writing up the results of the self-analysis reveals a level of self-absorption which is utterly disgusting in a woman of my age. This is what Hello Kitty diaries are for, and Hello Kitty diaries are marketed to teenage girls. I had a diary when I was fifteen, not Hello Kitty but one with a picture on the cover of a slender, dreamy girl  posed on a grassy riverbank, sitting easily upright with her long legs stretched out before her but not leaning back on her arms, in that effortless way that only slim and limber girls can manage. She is surrounded by weeping willows and cattails and daffodils and attended by a family of ducklings; a butterfly drawn by her girlish sweetness hovers near her head. Her perfect oval face is half hidden by a swing of long blonde hair and a little smile plays on her lips as she reads over the cherished hopes and dreams she has just recorded in her own diary. About ten years ago I busted open the cheap brass lock of this journal of my youth (having lost the key) and I was so appalled at the relentless stream of whininess I found within that I ripped the thing up and burned it. And now haven’t I just gone and recreated it right here.

(And if anyone thinks that last bit was a send-up of Anne of Green Gables, well, maybe it was a little bit, but I actually truly love Anne. Even though if facebook offered a “Which Anne of Green Gables Character Are You?” Quiz I would almost certainly end up as Josie Pye.)

Alrighty then, see you next week, I hope.


*Don’t even pretend. You know you’ve done this too.


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7 Responses to “The Great Debut – or – In Which I Explain Why I Have Withdrawn from Facebook.”

  1. Swinyar Studio Says:

    Oh, Kathryn, you are so funny! I love reading your comments no matter where they are. I wish you whatever you wish for… and hope that you come to a place of peace (comparatively) with this new decision.

  2. Sylvie Says:

    Was it not supposed to be funny? Well, I did laugh I will admit.

    I admire your leaving Facebook behind [it’s a easy way to share pictures/events with my family abroad] and can relate to your description of various events and emotions. I too am a Facebook coward when it comes to expressing my opinions; I have written and subsequently deleted many verbal outbursts written in reaction to other people posts. Yes, Facebook does affect one’s day and there are days where staying away would have been a better choice!

    I have enjoyed all your rants and other writings, so I shall be back to read some more. Thank you!

  3. Susan Williams Says:

    Thoroughly enjoying! Congratulations on the debut of ‘The Bear Went over the Mountain.’ S

  4. Darla Stong Says:

    Yep, I’m enjoying every word. Write on!

  5. Amy Says:

    Love! #soblessed 😜😜😜

  6. Amy Says:

    You need a colomun!!! Seriously.

  7. Marlene Field Says:

    I relate to some things!
    I know most of the words and all of the emotions.
    I laughed and cried while Rollin off the bed.
    Please keep writing!

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