Why I Broke Up with Facebook

Almost daily now I receive a text or email from folks wanting to know 1) if I am okay 2) why haven’t I been on Facebook.

I am touched by the many kindhearted people I have encountered over my life, on and off Facebook.

Many years ago now, I had a dream where I was standing at the altar holding a chalice with a line of people standing in front of me. Each person poured from their chalice into mine, until my cup was literally running over and making a river of goodness at that altar.

That dream has always been emblematic of my life in so many ways, so many good and decent people pouring their lives into mine, their kindnesses forming a flowing river of life.

First of all, yes, I am fine. Really, I am.

I came home from book tour exhausted, but not just from the travel. My spirit was depleted. All the noise in the world about the Gold Star widow Ms. Johnson (which honestly seems ages ago now) had left me reeling. I couldn’t distance myself from the attacks upon that widow, upon her family. As I told a girlfriend over dinner the other night, the thing that makes a writer good is their ability to crawl inside the skin of another. A novelist has to be able to know their character in the deepest most intimate of ways. Without an ability to do that, a writer will fail at building compelling characters.

But this gift, this ability to crawl inside the skin of another, can be a weaknesses, especially when one is incapable of distancing themselves from all those hurts. When war widows become the focus of the national conversation, I simply am incapable of being objective. Their hurt becomes my hurt. Their pain, my pain. It’s the bane of being the daughter of a war widow and being a writer.

Unable to cope with the national conversation regarding the deaths in Niger and Trump’s unseemly disrespect for the war dead and their survivors, I just shut down my Facebook account.

I didn’t make an announcement. I didn’t ask anyone. Nor did I tell anyone. I simply deactivated my account.

This is no small matter given the size of the audience I communicated with on a regular basis. (Will any even read this?)  I suppose there will be those who think I have cut off my nose to spite my face. Perhaps they are right.

Who can say for sure?

All I know is that I have more time for reading books. (I’m reading Patti Callahan Henry’s The Bookshop at Water’s End right now and loving it). I have more time for writing. I’m working on a true crime story titled The Murder Gene. Hopefully I will have that book completed in the early part of 2018. I am busy dealing with the flooding that happened to our home while we were away, flooding caused by the lid of the washing machine being left up (sigh). I am looking forward to the birth of a great-nephew later this week, and a wedding shower for a beloved niece. Next week I will be in DC for the reading of the names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I will read Dad’s name along with his brother, Doug, at 10:30 on Tuesday night.

So when the news came out today that 126 million of us Facebook users were fed a daily diet of Russian-linked propaganda during the 2016 election, I inhaled and reaffirmed my need to stay away from Facebook for awhile.

First of all because my heart needs the rest. Secondly, because Mark Zuckerberg has made a buttload of money off the clicks I generated through dialogue and discussion, through intellectual property of writing and creating.  Zuckerberg has made that money in a reckless fashion that has without argument put our democracy at risk. (Just read today’s headlines on indictments to understand that risk). I know of no other way of communicating to Mark Zuckerberg the wrongs he’s committed than to simply shut down my participation in his bid for more dollars.

I, afterall, am not getting paid for the content I put out there. And the argument could be made that Zuckerberg has been reckless with our freedoms. Reckless with the trust we placed in him as innocents just looking to reconnect with old friends and to make new friends.

My husband left Facebook last November following the election and has not yet returned.

I don’t know if and when I might return.

Yes, of course, I miss the many people I connected with on Facebook. But you know what? I find that people who really want to stay in touch, those folks have found a way. They’ve called me. They’ve sent me texts. They’ve sent me old-fashioned emails and postcards.

I’ve even made time for real face-to-face conversations.

I don’t feel as distraught as I was feeling.

I’ve taken the time to listen to a Ted Talk my publicist at Mercer University Press passed along to me. A Ted Talk about how Social Media dictates our lives. It’s a good talk. Give it a listen, then tell me what you think. You can write to me at zachauthor at gmail.com.  Or you can text me.

Or you know what? You could even call. I’ll take your call. My phone number is fairly easy to locate.

Remember when we used to call each other to chat and swap stories? I have some good news to share. I do. But if you want to know what it is, you’ll have to ring me.

For now, at least, I have called it quits with Facebook. While I appreciate Zuckerberg’s apology over his wrongs, I’m not yet ready to jump back into a relationship with him.

I’ve broken up with Facebook for now.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND: A novel, Mercer University Press.

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

5 Comments

ANNETTE "SAM" RIGGS

about 3 weeks ago

So happy to find you again. I have been on again/ off again, and like others, I suppose, concerned about your disappearance. Finally took the time to come here, where I knew I would find you. Yes, my spirit and my soul have suffered with all the goings on. I have chosen to maintain on FB for the time being, just to keep numerous people updated on Rufus' progress. I will join the leagues of FB quitters soon after he completes this surgical stage of his treatment I do hope to get to see you next time you are in this area. Soon as things settle down with us, I will see where you will be and come find you. Still keeping your sister, Linda, in my prayers and hoping for some good news for her. I will look forward to seeing you in, I hope, the near future. Love and hugs.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 weeks ago

Sam: I am not saying that everyone should take the steps I have taken. I miss seeing everyone on FB but life is overwhelming and there are just so many reasons right now for me, personally, to step away. I do miss getting the health updates on friends like you and Ken Szeto and others. FB can be a source of community. However, when it is monetized and contributes to the national crisis in which we currently find ourselves, I feel the need to withdraw. My sis is doing okay. Struggling with a cold now on top of everything else, but they have her on antibiotics and those seem to be helping. Thank you for your continued prayers and concerns. Life, it seems,is hard enough. Why do we put in office a reckless man who only makes it all the more difficult? I'm off to DC for the week. I am glad he won't be in town. Glad half the swamp has gone off with him. May they all fall into a black abyss. :)

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Mary Cooke

about 3 weeks ago

Missed you Karen. Wanted to say that I just finished Burdy - thought I should read them in order. And now before going on to Christian Bend, I just want to take time to remember. It was particularly haunting for me. This year I managed to connect with my husband's nephew. His sister had given him up for adoption in 1967 - not unusual in those days. It was a closed adoption in NY. I had all our ancestry and genes out on Ancestry.com and not two days after my mother-in-law passed away, a name popped up as being a close relative. It was a wonderful story and we all felt a love for family including Craig (our nephew). He had lived in Seattle for years and had a band that got a lot of recognition called the Believers. Both of his birth parents had passed away which was sad. He came to see us from Nashville with his wife in late August. But sadly (and no answer to this) he committed suicide in early September. Those questions that haunted Burdy of what to say to Zeb have haunted me. We will remember a man who was loved by so many and had led a wonderful life., someone we instantly liked. We know that we don't know the whole story and may never. That's a lot for you to know but I wanted to share how real and how much your books have meant and I am looking forward to the next one.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 2 weeks ago

Mary: What a story. I had no idea. I am so sorry for your loss but so thankful that you had the opportunity to connect with this nephew. How special for you all. So many wait too long to even begin looking. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am grateful that Zeb's story resonated with you. As an author, I always hope that I will hit upon that universal truth that resonates with many. That connection is what I write for. Thank you for letting me know that Zeb's story did that. Hugs to you all.

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Rose

about 1 week ago

Hi Karin! Well , I'm glad you are doing well. You were missed by all of us. Your postings kept us informed of what was going on in our WH. I will be reading your blogs to stay in touch with your writings Karin! With a heartfelt Hug. Rose

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