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Abby Dates Austin: I kissed Facebook goodbye (for now)

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1, Houston Startup Whimseybox, September 2012, woman at computer
Do we need to log off to tune in to our prospective partners? Photo by Christina Shippey

A few weeks ago, I pulled the plug on one of my greatest addictions. I deactivated my Facebook. I decided to explore life the way it was circa 2005, when, sure, MySpace existed and, yeah, I talked to my crushes on AIM for hours on end, but before social media consumed me in an all-encompassing way.

I remember the mystery of my Sunday school teacher’s son and how, with great trepidation and curiosity, I’d flip open the church directory to search for his family’s picture, hoping to find some clues into his psyche based on that one image. I would reread texts from him and overexamine our brief hallway encounters. My interest was based more on imagination and real-life interaction than errantly taking in an archive of his life by seeing a stream of photos of him with other girls and happening upon parties mentioned on his wall that I wasn’t invited to. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

 They say vulnerability makes you stronger, but I think there’s a limit to that — and I’m appreciating the time out. 

Despite the fact that I write for internet publications and am active on a myriad of other social media sites, something about momentarily ditching Facebook has been liberating. Though I typically wear my heart on my sleeve (and am unsure yet how to go about life any other way), lately I’ve been feeling naked and overexposed. They say vulnerability makes you stronger, but I think there’s a limit to that — and I’m appreciating the time out.

Particularly as it relates to dating.

I like that now, when I meet someone, I don’t instantly have access to their online world (and they don’t have access to mine). Maybe we exchange numbers or emails, but we get to know each other in a much more calculated manner. I don’t accidentally click over and find out that my crush’s favorite movie is Godzilla and that they graduated from such and such prestigious university. I don't know exactly how old they are or when their birthday is. That access is way too easy. And maybe it’s the journalist in me, but I want to piece together the clues to a person myself.

I’d like to find out Godzilla is their cinematic delight over dinner. It’s more meaningful than stumbling upon that fact during one of my internet binges, in between spoonfuls of ice cream and Instagramming the cute dogs I was stalking at Zilker Park.

 The poor souls must banter with me face to face and give courtesy laughs for every dad joke I dole out. 

I’m also finding that rejection stings just a little less without Facebook to reinforce it with photos, chipper status updates and constant reminders of my mistakes, fumbles and disappointments. I can read through old diaries if I want to relive that.

Now I’m forced to sit with things and listen to sad music when my heart is put through the wringer. I can’t escape myself, and maybe it makes me a masochist, but I like it. I like licking my wounds and feeling fresh, cold air that stings my nose, like a solid snort of salt water, and not being able to post something witty on my Facebook page to garner likes and momentary self-satisfaction, which has been the mindless distraction I have been accustomed to.

It drives me to be creative instead. And any guy who wants to get to know me on any level now must make some actual effort. Rather than being subjected to copious thoughts, reflections and shared doo-dads on my timeline, potential suitors are forced to (dare I say it) hang out with me! The poor souls must banter with me face-to-face and give courtesy laughs for every dad joke I dole out. They must wait for my lengthy rambles to come full circle and finally make a point. No scrolling. No skimming. Just listening.

Deactivating Facebook has put the fun and the mystery back into dating for me. Each person presents a new puzzle, a new onion waiting to be peeled and discovered the old-fashioned way. And hopefully prospective beaux feel the same way about me! We’ll see.

Or maybe I’ll just tweet about it.

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