19 reasons I quit Facebook… forever.

“You should post the link to the petition on Facebook,” I tell Mark one morning.

“Okay, I will,” he replies.

“I think you should do it now,” I insist.

“Okay, fine. But how do I do it? What should I say?” he asks.

“Gawwwwwd. You should know these things. Since you’re Mr. Social Media now,” I answer, annoyed.

“It doesn’t matter,” Mark explains, “You made me delete most my friends. I only have like 60.”

It’s true. Shortly after Matthew died, I made Mark delete those with whom we don’t interact in real life.

“You have like 90,” I correct him, “And we should do it for Matthew.”

“Okay fine, I’ll do it,” he agrees.

**********

We’re discussing a petition for the Obama administration to declare stillbirth a national health crisis and develop guidelines to advocate better screening. If you’ve been touched by Matthew’s story and reside in the US, please take two minutes to sign it.

The petition contains some typos – it was started by a newly bereaved parent, obviously motivated to act quickly. The errors bother me (my mom informs me of errors in my blog that creep past my proofreading process, and I thank her and correct them immediately), but it’s a worthy petition, nonetheless.

In the US, ~26,000 babies are stillborn each year – 1/160. And the figure is probably higher, since it doesn’t include cases like Matthew’s. Doctors often flippantly tell newly bereaved parents, “This just happens sometimes.” While stillbirth does indeed “happen sometimes,” this lackluster response to what’s believed to be, in many cases, a potentially preventable tragedy is, quite frankly, unacceptable fucked up. Perhaps the US can follow the UK’s lead on this issue

The petition needs 100,000 signatures by December 10, 2015 (virtually impossible), but 10,000 signatures (still possible) should elicit a response from the Obama administration.

**********

“Did you share it on Facebook?” I ask Mark later that afternoon.

“Yes,” he answers.

“Did anyone ‘like’ or comment or share?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can you check?”

“One like, one share.”

“Who?”

Mark names two bereaved parents from support group. I’m annoyed.

Mark doesn’t post often. These are the only things we CAN post about Matthew. For the rest of our lives. And one like, one share. That’s all we get. How many likes/comments would a picture of Matthew in some adorable outfit have received? Answer – MORE THAN ONE. That’s for effing sure.

**********

Over the next few days, Mark’s post gets three more likes. That weekend, I do coffee with a fellow loss mom. She recently deactivated Facebook, but her husband shared Mark’s post earlier that week. His response? Crickets. I’m sad again.

**********

I’m putting myself out there with this post. But, based on discussions with friends, I’m fairly certain interactions similar to the above take place all the time, yet no one talks about it. But it’s true. People make Facebook posts and wait for the “likes” and comments to roll in. They’re proud when it happens and frustrated when it doesn’t.

People who insist they don’t get caught up in all this are lying.

It’s fine – it’s our culture now, in the social media age. And I won’t deny the many benefits of social media, including Facebook.

But I, as a bereaved mother, deactivated Facebook, and I’ll likely never return, even if/when life gets a little brighter. So I’ve made a list…

I’m aware similar lists exist all over the internet – “All the reasons I hate Facebook, and yada, yada…” But my voice is a bit unique – a bereaved parent’s perspective. And, all the time, people ask me why I can’t do Facebook anymore.

**********

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention I deactivated Facebook before I knew I was pregnant. Though, I cheated, often looking at Mark’s newsfeed. Still, deactivating broke my addiction (Mark’s high school and college friends were a major snooze fest).

So it’s not like Matthew’s death converted me from Facebook lover to Facebook hater. Rather, it converted me from “taking a long break from Facebook, but I’ll likely return someday” to “Facebook is damaging to my well-being, and no way in hell will I ever return.”

Anyway, here’s 19 reasons I quit Facebook… forever.

#1 – I believe Facebook caused me to LOSE touch with friends who wrongly assumed we’d been interacting. After I deactivated, friends explained they missed me, which seemed odd, because I’d been a newsfeed peruser, occasional liker, and rare poster. So how could they miss me? Did they miss that tiny square with my face? Did they converse with said tiny square when it popped up on newsfeed? WTF?!

#2 – Facebook is great for displaying pictures of your perfect family with all its members, which I will NEVER have. Nuff said.

#3 – Facebook-using bereaved parents explain pictures of living children receive ~20x more “likes” than pictures of, or posts relating to, deceased children. That’s tough to stomach considering I’ll forever place equal importance on all family members, living or deceased.

#4 – Facebook-using bereaved parents say they’re sometimes unfriended for posting about deceased children. #suchbullshit #peoplesuck

#5 – I’d rather avoid random grief-trigger blindsides I’d never have seen in a Facebook-less world. Is that stupid girl from high school expecting her seventh child? Yep. Does she smoke and drink while pregnant and have healthy, living children despite it all? Yep. Will it work out great this time too? Of course. Could I just un-follow or unfriend her? Yep, but it’s easier to just not worry about it.

#6 – Facebook is too happy. People share filtered versions of their lives. And I don’t need to compare my insides to their outsides.

#7 – Facebook is too competitive. Like whose kids are wearing the best Halloween costumes? I’m going to lose every single fucking time. Because my child died. So I’d rather not play. Poor sport? Maybe.

#8 – I’ll risk pissing someone off and just say it – Facebook is, at its core, mostly “me-focused”. That’s not to say all Facebook users, or uses, are selfish. And sharing pictures with far-away friends and family isn’t selfish. But users with 2,000 friends, who constantly update on their “perfect” lives – they’re motivated by more than “keeping in touch”.

And is my friend constantly posting pictures of her baby who’s exactly Matthew’s age? Of course. Because her life continues despite my tragedy. And she has a RIGHT to share her beautiful pictures. And NOTHING will stop her. And all that’s true. But it’s not what’d I’d do if the situations were flipped. Posting was never super important to me, but since it is to her, I’ll just stay away rather than analyze why we’re different in this way. Again, I’d un-follow or unfriend, but why bother?

I’m aware blogging also seems “me-focused”. Though, because I aim to heal myself through writing, spread awareness, and support other bereaved parents, it feels a little less so.

#9 – Facebook encourages me to covet aspects of my neighbors’ lives. Yep, I wish my child would have lived too.

#10 – Facebook reminds me most babies live, which is a GREAT thing, but it doesn’t do much for me in the way of normalizing my grief.

#11 – Seldom did one’s Facebook behavior further endear him/her to me. Most often, it was a neutral or negative effect. And I doubt MY Facebook behavior, limited as it was, further endeared me to others.

#12 – Facebook is too risky. Did Molly update, yet again, to complain she can’t find a qualified nanny? I might write an inappropriate comment most would frown upon – like, “STFU, Molly – want to hear about real problems?!” Some problems seem small to me now… #sorrynotsorry

#13 – Ditching Facebook allows me to focus on who matters. How do I identify true friends among a group hitting “like” on posts? Without Facebook, I do more walks, coffee dates, lunches, and dinners with friends. I’m getting to know them more deeply, and, I find, I’m even interested in hearing about their children. I much prefer these real life relationships, uncluttered by Facebook interactions.

#14 – Facebook would disturb my impenetrable “circle of trust”. And I refuse to be penetrated by unsupportive people… Wait, I worded that awkwardly. But, seriously, interacting with those who’ve not walked with me since July 13, 2015 usually proves detrimental to my well-being.

#15 – Facebook is a time suck. And I need time for healing activities like yoga, reading, and blogging.

#16 – I’ve always had privacy concerns with Facebook. It was once my favorite tool for investigating others (like when AB challenged me to find pictures of our third-party consultants). It’s just too freaking easy. Who’s to say others wouldn’t investigate me?

#17 – Facebook is, most often, one huge wasteland of trivial thoughts. And most my thoughts are heavy now days.

#18 – I read a sweet article about how, once upon a time, villages consisted of ~150 people who helped each other through life, and Facebook has ruined that, because it is completely stupid and unrealistic to have 800 people in your village – you can’t possibly interact with that many people in a healthy way. That article made sense.

#19 – There are other forms of social media I prefer – like all other forms of social media, actually.

If you love Facebook, that’s great – different strokes for different folks. But, as a bereaved mother, I’m better off without it. And I won’t return. And I wanted to share my reasons, so if you’re also struggling with these issues, you too might develop the confidence to leave.

If you’re a bereaved parent (or not), what do you think of Facebook? Love it or hate it? Leave a comment.

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31 thoughts on “19 reasons I quit Facebook… forever.

  1. Christine,
    I signed in honor of Matthew.
    I hope that even though people may not have liked or shared the status, that they clicked through and signed.

    Ironically, I saw this quote on facebook and thought of you, Mark and Matthew.

    “You were my light, my heart, my gift of love and joy, from the very highest source.
    So everyday, I vow to make a difference, share a smile, live, laugh and love.
    Now I live for us both, so all I do, I do to honor you.”

    xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sarah, Thank you so much! I can’t tell you how much that means to me. And I love your quote so much. I’m going to print that off and put it in my office or something 🙂 It is so true, and the words are beautiful. xo

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  2. I saw Mark’s post, and I shared it! (I don’t know that it showed up as “share” on his page, because I went to the original post and “promoted” from there…)

    It’s incredibly frustrating, and I can attest to the observation that the pictures of my living children receive lots of “likes” while my posts about Josie don’t seem to garner as many anymore. It’s such a blatant reminder that everyone has moved on, even though we never will.

    I have thought about quitting Facebook many times. Perhaps you have inspired me 🙂

    Love,
    Nora

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, Facebook sucks. I’ve thought about quitting. Maybe someday I will. On Monday I de-friended you people. It felt AMAZING! I’m not friends with Mark, but I would have liked his post. I have posted the link a couple times and same thing, crickets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad it felt good to declutter your Facebook! And I tried to reply to your other comment and accidentally marked it as spam so now it’s gone! Sorry! Shows I am a technology genius as well 😉 I laughed out loud at the you people vs. 63 people – ha!

      Like

  4. So brilliantly said! After we lost our son William I just couldn’t be on Facebook at all, for all the reasons above, it filled me with such intense rage. I have dipped my toe back into it but I don’t think it’s doing me much good, your post has inspired me to leave properly this time x

    smallsteps2015.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I still use FB despite agreeing with everything you’ve said! I have a few stillbirth support groups which help to break up the other rubbish! I’ve not shared a ton about Isobel but anything I have has gotten a good response but how long would that even last. I’m sure people would get bored of it sooner rather than later! I’m not sure whether is annoys me more or I get something out of it still. Will judge as time goes on. Good reading your posts, you always make me laugh (no mean feat!) x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awwww, thanks so much for your sweet comment! Yeah, the only reason I wish I was on Facebook is to connect with other loss moms, but right now the costs outweigh the benefits for me, so I try to stay connected in other ways. I guess I don’t really expect things about Matthew to get very many likes, but it still sucks, so I stay away!! I think it’s fine to make an ongoing assessment regarding Facebook – it’s whatever feels right at the time is the right answer 🙂

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  6. I view Facebook as my personal sitcom with a side of soap opera. I don’t actually watch tv, so having this time suck is justifiable for me. I follow along with the story lines, discussing the happenings with friends I see in real life. Shake my head at the poor grammar of so and so, laughing at the inappropriate swear word laden jokes. Commenting like the grandmas who write letters to their favorite characters of Days of Our Lives; lecturing the youngins for their poor choices.

    On the plus side I have rekindled friendships out of what used to be long lost acquaintances, I try for brutal honesty that will make you laugh for my own updates, of course posting a plethora of pictures of my kid. My siblings live all over the place, as do my friends, it’s totally convenient to have one place to brag/bitch about my super awesome/obnoxious kid with an audience I have chosen for my very own. I have fitness groups where we post about our work outs and menus, supporting each other in our goals. I have reached out to so many other baby loss moms, who in real life I would not know of their loss because we are separated by physical distance. I tell them my story, offer my shoulder, connect in a way I would not be able to if not for the internet. I live in the middle of nowhere. There’s no support groups out here.

    I strongly feel your social media experience is what YOU choose. I choose to have hilarious supportive people on my feed. Who get my sense of humor, and are amused by my opening warning letter when they friend me; I swear a lot, I get drunk and post inappropriate things from reddit, expect a plethora of pop dance videos. I have never felt ignored or unsupported when posting about loss, only love, understanding.

    If I don’t agree with your post I hide it. If I feel offended or overwhelmed by your posts I stop following you. I expect you do the same with mine. I use Facebook to put a smile on my face, and hopefully facilitate smiles for others. ❤

    And of course, fuck the haters!!! Hahahaha!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so glad you’ve found Facebook to be such a wonderful outlet! I agree that social media in any form is what you make of it. I think all your posts sound great. If I was still on Facebook I’d love to be your friend. 😉 I’ve not been able to ever make it as productive for me, unfortunately. And, remembering back to what it was for me when I left, I’m pretty sure it’d cause me a lot of anguish to go back right now. For some reason blogging and Instagram has felt far more positive for me!

      Like

      1. I LOOOVE that are doing what’s right for you and your mental health, one of my biggest annoyances is the people who bitch about how awful Facebook is…on Facebook. HAHAHAHA!! If you don’t like it don’t have it!! Such a simple solution!! ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. While I am not a bereaved parent, I have considered leaving fb for many of the same reasons you shared. I have lost relationships with family members over facebook posts they did not like. Fb has created rifts on both sides of my family & although I’ve had upwards of 200 friends before, my REAL world consisted of no more than 4 true, real-life people I could see/call/count on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sorry to hear you’ve experienced some hurtful downsides of Facebook. I can totally understand though – even before I was a bereaved parent, I had problems with it. I think Facebook can actually make life more lonely when you have hundreds of “friends” but know only a handful of them are the see/call/count on types. That’s how I felt too!

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  8. Oh, you know I’m in the ex-FB club with you. I don’t think we’re missing much of anything, although some babyloss moms I know started a private group called “Bitch, Please” to bitch about terrible people, which I would probably like since I love to bitch about terrible people.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. After I lost Barrett in September I stopped going on Facebook. I had to look at it to find the correct spelling of a family friend who had sent flowers and immediately saw about 20 triggers. So after sobbing for half an hour I try to do everything in my power to never go on the site. And it is exactly like you say. I can’t handle small problems people complain about. Sorry you scratched your car. My son died. Sorry you are not getting the purebred dog in time for Christmas. My son is in an urn and won’t see his first Christmas. Just too hard. Makes me angry and jealous. Things I don’t want to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss of your sweet Barrett. Yep – Facebook is just impossible. Anger and jealousy is too easy. Life is hard enough for me without those highly visible and prevalent triggers. And yes, it’s not fun to feel those feelings so intensely, so I continue to stay away. Can’t handle the person complaining they didn’t get all they wanted at the effing Black Friday sale. Sending so much love and light your way. xoxo, Christine

      Like

  10. I can’t do FB anymore either, and your reasons mirror so many of mine. I haven’t quite taken the plunge yet to deactivate it. There are 42 weeks of incredibly happy memories of being pregnant with Larkin there. Posts and pictures that would trigger me to the floor, a sobbing mess. I hope to someday be able to see them again and feel good about it. Maybe not, but it comforts me that while my last post was about her passing, all the ones before that were amazingly happy, and I can’t bear to make those disappear forever. So I followed my husbands queue and logged off all devices that had it, so I wouldn’t get notification triggers and haven’t looked (or logged) back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG – yes. I cannot look at any pictures of me pregnant, smiling without sobbing. I’ve avoided them all. Since I was off Facebook before, I don’t have that same worry that deactivating will cut off my access to them forever… So I can totally see how you’d not want to deactivate. I think you’re correct – at some point, you’ll want access to those times. At some point, it will provide comfort. That doesn’t have to be now. Or in a year, even. But at some point, that day will come. And those happy memories will be there waiting for you – a beautiful documentation of Larkin’s life. I think temporarily logging off is a happy medium for sure, and I’m glad it’s worked for you. Yes, our days are difficult enough without unexpected trigger notifications. xoxo, Christine

      Like

  11. I recognise a lot of what you’re saying.

    We make sure that we post baby photos in a private group rather than in the main feed. We don’t hesitate to post pictures of our boys amongst photos of our rainbow children.

    For a lot of charities in the UK, a phone line is a cost they can’t afford so some use private facebook groups as a means of peer support. The TAMBA bereavement support group on Facebook was a place where we could howl and rage and sob at the injustice and horror of it all without judgment or fear of self censorship.

    I understand why you left. The adverts can be brutally and unknowingly insensitive. Being part on offshoot of a Twins charity is that algorithms don’t make the distinction between live children and dead ones so helpfully offer twin based products and accompanying winsome little cherubs not knowing or caring that it’s another twist of the knife.

    Liked by 1 person

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