Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hoarding People, Friends, and the Past Through Facebook

We have always wanted more.  Now it is easier than ever to have it.
Our society, in many ways, condones and even promotes hoarding.  Before us, we are shown images of huge homes stuffed with material possessions, garages loaded multiple vehicles, closets brimming with extensive pairs of shoes with matching handbags, endless yards loaded to the hilt with furniture and decorations.  It truly numbs the mind.  When you look around your brain is pulverized to such an extent that it is hard to focus on anything else.  We think that we need all we can have.  In the supermarket we load our carts full of everything we can find.  It's almost as if we have a fear of starving to death if we do not load our refrigerator with as much food as it will fit.  We are told that we are a better person if our bank account is loaded with money.  We, as a society, want to hold on to as much as possible.

Our grabbing hands do not stop at material possessions.  We want to have a firm grasp on the past. We want to document and save every small event that has happened in our lives.  We have computer hard drives loaded with images, documents, and videos that we may never even set our eyes on again.
We also save things out of fear of the future.  In our closets we save everything that we can with the idea that we may need something again someday.  I have known people who save documents for decades because they may one day need to show that seven year old phone bill as proof that it has been paid.  There it sits, in a stack of fifty pounds of random papers.

This madness has also extended to (a)social media.  We have this idea that we need to hold onto acquaintances and friends, old classmates from high school and college, people we worked with over the years, and those who we would have, otherwise, never spoke to again.  For millennia when life changed, people moved on, and oftentimes people would never see or speak to each other again.  This was normal.  It is not natural to hold onto hundreds of people.  We do not have the time to maintain that many friendships.  Our minds are not wired to have relationships with hundreds of people in such a way.  Yet, we feel that we need to hold onto as many people as possible.  We feel that we will regret giving up old acquaintances and friends and we fear that we may never see or hear from them again.

Facebook takes advantage of the fear of being missed or losing a connection.

Facebook knows that people fear this and they take advantage of this fear.  When you go to deactivate your profile, there is a list of people with their names saying "___ will miss you."  Facebook than demands a reason for leaving, as if you have to answer to it for your choice of leaving the website (when you do leave, please put "" as your reason).  You should not give into this fear.  It is natural to have a smaller, more intimate, group of close friends.  It is natural to have a manageable amount of people you speak to.  Life is about balance, and having too many of one thing is often detrimental to us.  Our minds do not work well with extremes.  Having five hundred friends on Facebook, each screaming their views, thoughts, and extreme emotions is not healthy for us to read.  We can not keep up with that many people, nor should we try to.  Doing so puts you spending far too much time on Facebook, and even a few minutes is too much.

There is a movement where people have begun to give up owning too many things or living in large homes.  This movement is focused on living in small spaces and simplifying life.  I have found, myself, that this is a very healthy way to go through life.  You do not need to sell your home and move into a 300 square foot home, however, simplifying life is something that works well for our brains.  We, as a society, waste so much, including time.  Facebook is by far the larges timewaster that I have ever come across in my life.  The world is literally screenlocked, looking at their phones every moment, waiting for someone to post something.  The Facebook app lets the user know just when someone likes their post or when someone replies.  Immediately the user grabs their phone and checks to see what was said.  Entire days go on like this.  Life passes.  Opportunities pass and many wonder where their time went.

You can let go of the hoarder mentality.  It is not easy, but only takes some courage and a few minutes.  Tell Facebook you are done.  You do not need to "miss" your friends, because you can still call, e-mail or actually spend time with those who you are close to and tell the rest "it was good.  I hope you live a great life!"  You will quickly find that life goes on when you leave. You will also find that you have a lot more time to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish.  Time is the most valuable resource in the world, infinite times more valuable than even money (after all, it is time that allows us to earn and create money).  Facebook is using your time.  Would you pay money to post on Facebook? Then why give Facebook something far more valuable than money?  Why give Facebook your time?


  1. This post is helpful to me. A month ago, I deleted Facebook after realizing I had accumulated a long list of "friends" that I no longer keep in touch with. Seeing their profiles all the time weighed down on me subconsciously. I continued to receive news about their lives simply by being on Facebook, which made me envious of them and worsened my tendency to compare myself to others.

    I also became aware that Facebook has been with me for six years and that if I kept being in that site, I would continue to be attached to the people who are no longer part of my life. Of the 700+ contacts I had there, I would meet only less than a hundred of these close friends and acquaintances at the most. I've drifted apart from the rest, or I rarely interact with them in person for various reasons (i.e. living or working abroad, too busy, etc.)

    Something about not knowing what happens in others' lives feels lighter to me psychologically. It allows me to focus more on my own life for a change (including dealing with the occasional feelings of isolation). I no longer feel overwhelmed with information overload. For once, I have no one to compare myself to, so if I achieve something, I am now more able to feel happy for myself without having to seek validation or approval from others. I still feel the occasional envy towards others who are stronger or better than me, but this envy is now fleeting, unlike in Facebook where I am stuck envying others forever despite the good things that I experience myself. Once I am alone and resume my own life, the envy is gone. Also, when others find out what happens in my life in person, I can pick up what they really feel about me instead of immediately believing the congratulations they post on Facebook outright.

    I miss the chance to see the photos of friends where I am included, but then, it's a small price to pay so I don't have to see many more photos that don't include me because I'm not part of their lives anymore. I am tired of the FOMO (fear of missing out) syndrome.

    1. I agree 100% with the article and with your comment. I couldn't have said it better. I only had about 70 contacts on my fb, which included mostly relatives who live in a different country and a handful of childhood friends and select former coworkers but even with just 70 contacts it can get messy...drama, oversharing, envy, nosiness... there are two things that have recently helped me to get rid of fb: one being that i heard or read somewhere that fb is the tool of the devil (not that i am religious but in many ways it sure is!) and the other one was that i caught myself stalking my finace's ex on fb. I found out that not only is she a compulsive hoarder in real life, but she hoards fb friends too (i doubt the average person knows and keeps active friendships with 1,200 people). I got mad at myself for falling for the stalking part and on the other hand i can't believe how hoarding as a mental illness can extend to every other part of the affected person's life. Shoot, i'd ate to be entrusted with cleaning up her fb, dawm what a titanic chore that would be! It's taken my fiance months just to clean the house they used to live in, many rental dumpsters and he still has a looooooong ways to go...i can only imagine her online numbing. And it's not just fb she also hoards social networking sites, has a profile on twitter, instagram, linkedin, etc etc can people live like that? I like the idea that if i want to go incognito and sort of disappear that would include my nline presence and it should be somewhat easy...except for hiding from big brother...