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My breakup with Facebook

Two days after I’d made the New Year’s resolution to quit Facebook, I realized how much the site had been messing with my mind. Holding hands with my son, walking down a gritty urban street in downtown Los Angeles, I suddenly stepped out of myself and observed the way my innocent, sun-kissed 6-year-old contrasted with the steely greys of the streetscape around us. I saw the construction, the hipsters strolling with their hip dogs, and thought, “I need to post this.” Not, “I need to take a picture of this,” but that I needed to share this experience with others. What had been a mother-son excursion to a downtown bookstore became fodder for an audience of hundreds.

The impulse hit me hard and felt incredibly wrong. When I was a kid, I sometimes worried about what my incessant TV and movie watching was doing to my experience of everyday life. To make the day more exciting, I’d sometimes imagine that I was in a scene from a film. Even when I wasn’t actively daydreaming, I’d sense that my perception was being slightly altered, as if cameras were on me. Nothing too extreme, but just a nagging feeling of being onstage. I’d see myself from the outside; happy moments were occasionally tinged with foreboding – tragedy always interrupted joy in movies, right? But that sensation was a tiny nudge compared to this, the sense that I needed some kind of virtual applause for just being somewhere. The fact that my child had become online “content” was even creepier.

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