On Facebook and Validation

27 Feb

I deleted my Facebook account this morning.

Or rather, I deactivated it, because deleting is way more of a hassle and I’ll probably end up reactivating my account eventually. And can I just take a second to tell you how crazy hard it was to get myself off that motherfucker? It took me approximately ten years to find the “deactivate” section, and THEN they make you fill out this thing about why you’re leaving and blah blah blah, like, seriously, Zuckerberg? Everyone and their grandmothers are on Facebook. You can relax about the OCCASIONAL PERSON quitting your site.

But anyway. I digress.

I deactivated my account because I wasn’t really happy about how I was using Facebook. I felt like too often I was using it to seek attention or validation, and that felt really unhealthy. I feel like I have an OK relationship with Facebook when I’m in a good space mentally, but when I’m depressed I tend to make posts that are basically begging my friends to reassure me that they love me, that I’m a good person, that I’m doing a good job. And I don’t want to be that guy, you know?

But this is where it gets fucking tricky, because by posting this, aren’t I kind of, sort of being that guy? Aren’t I using this as a way of asking you for validation that I’m not constantly looking for validation? Or at least validation that this is just how we do it in the 21st century and everyone else (and their grandmothers) use Facebook for the same thing?

Let me tell you a little story.

One time, my ex-boyfriend and I were at the same Hallowe’en party, and then ended up going out to the same club. I was still in love with him and he knew it, but he went ahead and kissed me on the dance floor anyway. He was dressed as The Incredible Hulk and when he kissed me he got green paint on my face, and my best friend dragged me into the bathroom and yelled, WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING KISSING YOU AND GETTING GREEN PAINT ON YOUR FACE? THAT IS FUCKING UNACCEPTABLE.

So I tried to ask him why he’d kissed me, but instead he turned around and walked out of the bar. So I followed him, because I was angry, and hurt, and felt stupid and used. I chased him down the street, yelling his name and telling him to turn around and talk to me RIGHT NOW. And eventually he did, and we ended up sitting together on someone’s stoop in the middle of Halifax’s North End. It was midnight and really fucking cold outside, but I didn’t have a coat because I’d been in such a hurry to catch him and chew him out. So I sat there, trying to explain how hurt I was without actually admitting that I still wanted to be with him, and I was so cold that I started shivering. So he put his arms around me, and pulled me close, and I started crying.

We were both really drunk, and really young, and really serious. So we decided we were having this big adult conversation about ourselves and our relationship and our treatment of each other. Because, you know, that’s what you do when you’re sitting on some random North End stoop dressed as The Incredible Hulk and Jackie O on a freezing cold late-October night. That’s what grownups do. Right?

Anyway, at some point I said, “Tell me something that you know about me. Something true.”

And he looked at me and said, “Anne needs to stop relying on other people’s opinions of her.”

And I was actually shocked by how true and accurate that was. Like, even though he was a dick to me on the regular, he still knew me, somehow. And, weirdly, he still cared about me.

I guess I was also shocked because I’d thought that my need for other people’s validation was something that I’d managed to hide fairly well. But it became clear to me that if even my emotionally-stunted ex-boyfriend could see it, then everyone could see it.

And in that moment I felt exposed for the fraud I was: not the loud, brash, ass-kicking lady that I pretended to be, but a scared, lonely, kid with poor self-esteem.

I’ve worked hard in the year since then to have more faith in myself, to not let other people’s ideas shape who or what I am. I’ve tried to grow a thicker skin, tried not to care about what other people say, tried to learn how to stand my ground. And to some degree, I think I’ve been successful. I’ve at least become better at presenting myself as someone who is all of those things.

But when things get tough, I don’t feel like someone who has a strong core. I feel like someone who has layers and layers of gauze bandages wrapped around her midsection, and when you go to unwind them, it turns out that there’s nothing there, like, literally nothing. Just a giant, gaping hole that goes all the way through me. And then maybe all of my internal organs fall out and I get blood and guts on your nice new shoes and I’m crying for you to love me, please love me, and even though I can tell that you’re disgusted, I can’t stop.

So anyway, that’s what Facebook has been feeling like lately. Like I’m a big old vivisected loser who needs you to tell her over and over that she’s fine, she’s good, she’s lovely. And I don’t want to be that loser anymore. And I don’t want to drive you all away with my nonsense.

Thus: Facebook deactivation.

We can still interact here and on Twitter, and I’m happy to give you my email address so long as you promise that you’re not a creeper who wants to send me pictures of his dick. I’ll still be around. It’ll be fun, I promise!

Now if you excuse me, I have to go talk to my cats and make sure that they still think that I’m a worthy owner who feeds them on time and gives them enough cuddles.

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33 Responses to “On Facebook and Validation”

  1. Cupcakes And Hoodies February 27, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    I have considered doing the same thing SO MANY TIMES. I think facebook is almost an excuse to not actually connect with anyone but feel like you are, y’know? And I get it. I get the whole validation thing. I need it too. I need to know I’m needed. I’m worthwhile. I’m loved. That I’m the person my dog thinks I am. Ok mabye not the last one (cause there is no WAY any of us are the people dogs think we are) but yeah. Can I send you hugs? I feel hugs are in order. HUGS 🙂

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 2:50 am #

      Hmmm. I honestly DO feel like I connect with people, and I do think I get some good from it, but right now I just feel so gross about how I’m using it. I also think that we use it to present our best selves (obviously) and when I’m in a not-great mental space I start to feel like I am failing and everyone else is succeeding.

      You can always send me hugs. Hugs right back to you! ❤

  2. runesandrhinestones February 27, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Good choice. I haven’t reached the point of deactivating Facebook, but I still spend an unhealthy amount of time on there checking photos and what people are doing. I kind of measure myself against my friends, which is pointless. Seeking validation through others seems to be a pretty normal thing! At least in my head it is… Possibly I’m not the best person to talk to about this 🙂

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 3:02 am #

      I just felt like I was going on & looking at the same things over and over, waiting for something new to appear. I have better things to do with my time, but I let myself waste time on FB anyway. Poor willpower I guess!

      I think it’s totally normal to want validation! I just didn’t feel healthy about the way I was asking for it, if that makes sense.

  3. Meg February 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    YES! THIS! My Facebook self was this awful lurker that just compared, compared, compared and felt shitty when I knew I shouldn’t/this was unhealthy. And the time vortex! It was a fracking internet rabbit hole! But then I was all like, “Self, comparison is the thief of joy,” and I realized that the relationships that mean the most in my life did not rely on Mark Zuckerberg. IT IS THE BEST. Congratulations.

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 3:03 am #

      “Self, comparison is the thief of joy,”

      Whoaaaa I need to write that somewhere and post it on my wall. Seriously. I need to be reminded of that like every day.

      Thanks ❤

  4. Britni February 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    I relate to this so much. When I began doing 12-step work, I discovered that I was not the person that I thought I was. I acted like this bad-ass, loud-mouth, brash, unafraid rock star but the truth was that it was totally a facade to mask who I really was inside– insecure, vulnerable, scared, desperate to be liked. Realizing that was devastating for me but ultimately the best thing that ever happened. As I began to let go of the need for validation from others, I started to change. It was really hard at first, though. I felt like this exposed, raw bunch of nerves. I sought to fill that void that you mention (because I had it, too) with spirituality and a being bigger than myself. It was only after I looked to the universe (for me, god is a verb. God is right action. When I act right and I do the next right thing and I am a good person who helps others, that fills the void for me) for validation instead of other people that I felt whole.

    The funny thing is that when I changed around what I sought from other people, the content of my Facebook changed. I no longer posted inappropriate things for shock value or to try to get comments. I no longer felt the need to do that. I became more authentic as a result. It’s been quite the journey and I still struggle a bit, but I try to ask myself what my motivation for posting something on FB is before I do it. Am I seeking comments or reassurance or self-esteem in some way by posting this? Or am I posting it because it feels genuine? I’m not always perfect about it, but it’s a good way to see why I’m doing something.

    Send me an email! britni.clark [at] gmail [dot] com.

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 3:05 am #

      “I discovered that I was not the person that I thought I was. I acted like this bad-ass, loud-mouth, brash, unafraid rock star but the truth was that it was totally a facade to mask who I really was inside– insecure, vulnerable, scared, desperate to be liked.”

      Ohhh this is how I feel, a lot of the time.

      I am too tired to write out the awesome response this comment deserves, but I just wanted to let you know that I got a lot out of it. And I know that I say this like five times a day, but I’m so glad that we’re friends, and that we randomly connected on Jezebel like five years ago.

      I will for sure email you when my brain is less scattered!

  5. Christa February 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Everyone should take a break from Facebook (I should probably take this advice). It is the reason I don’t have a lap top or a tablet or even a phone that has internet b/c I would be on it all the damn time.
    I think it is human to want validation from other people…but I am learning how to give validation to myself and that is much more important. We can talk sometime about how I’m doing that if you like. I want to stay in touch!

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 3:06 am #

      I would love to talk about that with you! I definitely need to learn how to get validation from myself.

      Thanks ❤

      • Christa March 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

        Send me an email some time punk_rock_candy (at) hotmail (dot) com and we can chat. xo

  6. Krissy February 27, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Just in time because March 1st Mark Zuckerberg starts tracking the GPS Coordinates of all Facebook accounts. Every user agreed to it in the fine print. (I wish I was joking).

    • Quinn March 3, 2013 at 5:39 am #

      That’s the least of what we’ve agreed to. I work in social media data mining. It’s like skynet. I wish _I_ was joking.

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 2:30 am #

      WHOA. Seriously? That shit is crazy.

  7. theyellowblanket February 28, 2013 at 3:13 am #

    Welcome to FaceBook deactivation land! I crossed the border 2 months ago, and it has been grand. There is wisdom in your decision to take a step back and examine your relationship with the FaceBeast.

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 2:31 am #

      It's been almost a week, and I don't even really miss it. And while I've admittedly been on Twitter more often this week, it still hasn't taken up the time Facebook did. And I find that I overshare WAY less on Twitter.

  8. playfulmeanderings February 28, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    I totally get this. AND I love your illustrative story that went with this post that help you (and we readers) understand — really unnderstand — how you feel. Let us know after some time has passed what difference this has made for you…

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 3:00 am #

      Thanks! So far it’s been good although, admittedly, I’ve only been off FB for less than a week.

      Ah, good times with ex-boyfriends in my early 20s. Those were the days. The terrible days.

  9. adhesiveslipper (@adhesiveslipper) February 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    I’ma go ahead and “Like” this on Facebook, k? ❤

    • 'Bean February 28, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      I totally support your decision & process. I would also add that I would not be here if there were not people who were willing to hold up the idea that I am lively & deserve to exist, etc., when that shit was too heavy for me to lift on my own, and I think that is a valuable service we can provide for one another. And you should totes email me so I can unnecessarily tell you about my braincrush on you in ways that don’t feel unhealthy to you–or do something else. It’s cool.

      • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 2:57 am #

        I will DM you my email address!

        WHY DO I TAKE SO LONG TO RESPOND TO COMMENTS, THEY ARE ALWAYS SO GREAT.

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 2:26 am #

      DO IT.

  10. Quinn March 3, 2013 at 5:37 am #

    You know what I did the other day? I put an ad on kijiji offering someone to take my ipod touch off my hands for $50. That’s cheap. I did it because that wonderful little device is ruining my life.

    Not only does facebook tell you when someone sees your private messages but APPLE TO APPLE communication will conveniently let you know when apple users were LAST ONLINE.

    You know what comes next.. “You were online ten minutes ago and didn’t even LOOK at a message i sent you three hours ago!”

    I’ve gotten this from others and I hate to say.. i’m guilty of thinking this too. Things were better when we had no idea if someone had read our shit or not. Back in the good old days where you sent a message to someone and you heard from them when you heard from them. Or at the very least, had to see a sign of life to know they were ignoring you.

    This is the story of why i am selling my ipod. And probably deactivating facebook. There is no such thing as a facebook delete. They keep your profile intact. Forever. They keep all your personal info. But at least you don’t have to be there continuing to participate.

    • bellejarblog March 4, 2013 at 2:53 am #

      ‘You know what comes next.. “You were online ten minutes ago and didn’t even LOOK at a message i sent you three hours ago!”’

      Totally! It’s like that with cells – “I called you on your cell, why didn’t you answer? Why do you have a cell if you’re never going to answer?”

      I like the story of why you sold your iPod! I do think I will end up back on Facebook sooner or later, but not until I’m able to feel healthier about how I’m using it, you know?

      • Anna August 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

        Funny, I’m so glad I found this, cos I’ve been sitting here moping, I mean, thinking about this very same thing with regards to my boyfriend. He’s always posting life stuff on Facebook, so basically ANYone with a Facebook account knows more about him than I do at any given moment. I mean, how much frikkin’ validation does one guy need?? Sigh, I’ll never be a beast of burden, I guess. Great blog, btw!

  11. justmeactually March 10, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    I just found your blog today and I love what you have to say. This post made me feel less alone since I left Facebook over a year ago. You have a wonderful voice and I hope lots of people hear what you have to say!

  12. Annie @ Mommy Goes To Work March 20, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    Hello, Anne! I discovered you through a fellow blogging friend, and am so glad I did. Reading your post reminded me of when I quit Perez Hilton cold turkey. Maybe I am ready for this next step 🙂 But I’m wondering – were you able to keep access open to your blog’s FB page after deactivating your personal FB account? If so, that’s going to make this a no-brainer for me. I can’t wait to read more of your wonderful voice.

  13. Rachael June 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    Bon je n’ai pas eu le temps de finir de regarder toutefois je repasserai plus tard

  14. Liz July 28, 2014 at 4:18 am #

    Thank you for writing this.

  15. cool hoodies May 18, 2015 at 3:50 am #

    At this time I am going away to do my breakfast, after having my breakfast coming yet again to read additional news.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On Facebook and Validation | Ventilation - March 10, 2013

    […] On Facebook and Validation. […]

  2. 2013 In Review: Part 1 | The Belle Jar - December 29, 2013

    […] February 27th I deleted my Facebook account for a week, which was pretty much exactly what I needed to do right […]

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