COLUMN: Kevin Joseph — July 18, 2014

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Kevin Joseph
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It isn’t an easy decision to deactivate a Facebook account.

Yesterday morning I woke up with bookshelves full of classic literature just feet from my bed.  I have read some of the books but most of them are in my “to do” pile. 

I chose, rather, to spend a half hour on Facebook.  A half hour learning about what people had for supper the previous night.  A half hour going through vacation pics of places I’ve yet to visit.  A half hour finding out what is getting on certain friends nerves these days. 

A half hour spent looking into the details of the lives of people who wouldn’t say hi to me if they were in line next to me at Wal-mart.  I know, because I recently shared an awkward greeting with one such friend while in line at Wal-mart. 

I deactivated my Facebook account last night. The immediate showing of support was greater than when I quit drinking 13 years ago.  I had texts and inboxes asking if I was OK. 

It was far greater a challenge to click on the “deactivate” button than I imagined it would be.  I’ve been involved with Facebook for about as long as I’ve been involved with the woman who would become my wife. 

It didn’t help that Facebook posts pictures of friends who “are going to miss you”.  And they managed to pick five of the nicest people on my friends list.

Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper is going to miss me apparently.  Sorry Troy.

But this isn’t a goodbye.  It’s a realization that I’ve spent too much time accepting online interactions as a viable replacement for real human interaction.  There is no replacement for that. 

Today I went to a feast.  I enjoyed a beautiful sunny day at Wanuskewin with some beautiful people.  The whole time not thinking of how I could phrase it in a status update or deciding what would be a good pic to post. 

It’s only been one day but I still find myself reaching for my phone to see if anything is happening on Facebook.  I do it habitually the way I used to reach for my cigarettes in my pocket for weeks after I quit smoking. 

I have been “unfriended” by a number of people over the years who decided that because they didn’t like a status update or two of mine that it was time to end our friendship.  I need to point out that I am not judging the vast majority of those who use Facebook.  It was just time for me to walk away.  For how long?  I’m not entirely sure.  But I saved all my photos to my hard drive just in case I decide to not return.

I’m kind of a sentimental type of guy.  I often find myself missing “the good old days”. 

Recently my son told me he misses going to video rental stores to pick out movies.  He’s eleven.  The age for having good old days is getting younger and younger.

In his lifetime alone movie rental stores, record stores, and encyclopaedias have all gone the way of the dinosaurs.  My parents bought a set of encyclopaedias when I was a kid.  I spent hours upon hours reading those books.  My heart broke a little when they stopped producing them. 

Wikipedia and Facebook memes which can be created by anyone with the right app are no replacements for real facts and education. 

Facebook interactions are no replacement for real face to face, human to human interaction. 

I recently had a great discussion about today’s youth with a business owner near Carlton High School.  She mentioned that for years she would get to know a group of students closely.  They would come in to visit and inevitably, they would stop in one last time before they graduated.  This started changing about five years ago she said.  “None of them know how to talk anymore.”

I have friends who are some of the funniest people on Facebook but seem to lack any real sense of humour in person.  I have friends who are fierce activists online but can barely raise their voices beyond a squeak when I talk with them. 

No one’s Facebook profile is 100 per cent accurate and honest.  Otherwise people would be posting selfies the morning after they went out drinking and not just before they went to the bar. 

Admittedly, my own Facebook only highlighted what I wanted people to know about me.  I think my time off Facebook will be spent working towards being a better me rather than creating a better profile. 

In an incredible display of good timing, my nephew Steve just called me.  He had noticed my Facebook was closed and just wanted to chat.  We talked of how so much cannot be communicated by text or inbox.  We laughed when we talked of how many people have forgotten that you can still talk to someone voice to voice via mobile devices.  “This is a million times better than texting” he said to me.

I couldn’t agree more.

It’s been not quite 24 hours since I deactivated.  I’m resisting the urge to write on friend’s walls.  This is acceptable of Facebook but will probably get me arrested if I do it for real.

My mom used to take me with her when I was small.  She would set aside entire days to visit friends and family.  It’s time for me to do the same.

Put on a pot of coffee.  I’m coming over.

 

Kevin Joseph is a Prince Albert freelance writer. His column appears every fourth Friday in rotation with Jessica Iron Joseph, Sharon Thomas and Lori Q. McGavin.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Carlton High School

Geographic location: Troy

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