Good-bye Instagram!

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by cheri sabraw

It’s been a bad week for technology what with a driverless car running over and killing a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Add to that the massive privacy breach allowed by the boys at Facebook, whom I understand, sold quite a bit of their FB stock before the bad news came out. And I just read a report last month about the harmful and addictive nature of smart phone and adolescents’ FOMO.

I realize that we are never returning to answering the rotary phone or writing a letter on paper, but such news should be considered a warning.

I received such a warning from an unlikely source nine years ago.

When I owned my business, I was told that in order to promote our product (education) and to keep clients engaged, I should start a  Facebook page. So I did.

After a year or two, I had thousands of “friends,” usually former students; after all, by the time I left public education, I had taught about 3000 kids who wanted to get together for coffee. I could have died of a caffeine overdose had I agreed to meet them all.

It seemed as if I had a “friend” request 2-3 times a day. On my birthday, hundreds of people wished me “Happy Birthday.” Even at that time, it felt rather hollow and disconnected.

One day, while I was back in my private office at Mill Creek Academy, one of my 9th grade writing students–a shy Chinese boy who had said very little in the course of the year in which I had instructed him–knocked on my door.

“Come in!” I cheerfully suggested.

In walked Ryan, one of the last people I expected to see.

“Mrs. Sabraw, do you have a moment? ” he asked.

“Sure, Ryan, what’s up?

“I see you have a Facebook page, Mrs. Sabraw. I just wanna tell you that I think you should probably delete your account.”

“My god! Is there something gross or inappropriate on that page that would send you here to tell me this?” I asked, somewhat concerned.

“No, it’s just that after being in your class for a year, and listening to you teach and hearing your point of view about stuff, well, how do I say this? I think Facebook for a person like you could get addicting. Do you know what I mean?”

I knew exactly what he meant and viewed his entrance into my tent that day as prophetic.

“Thank you, Ryan. This conversation has been more meaningful than you will ever know.”

He nodded and walked out the door, shutting it behind him very quietly.

That night, nine years ago, on my status report I wrote...Mrs. Sabraw is signing off. Good-bye!

And with that, I was free to pursue other hobbies and culturally enriching activities.

 

One day, I had a relapse and signed up for Instagram because I was under the false impression it has something to do with photography, which I love.

In addition to some excellent photography from those I had allowed into my feed, there were also some low moments.

One person who had taken her son to college posted a picture of his room with a sign on the wall that said Fuck Trump. How her son felt about Trump wasn’t my problem. I just didn’t need to see the F-word.

After the recent March to change gun laws, one Instagram friend posted a sign from a marcher in L.A. (shock) with Fuck this and Fuck that on it. (paraphrased). This was a kids’ march, I understand.

It was at that moment, I wondered why I was on Instagram. Was there anything socially redeeming about it? Did it enhance my life? Could I have spent my valuable time doing something else other than checking my feed?

And though Instagram doesn’t have a place to say Good-bye, that night I quietly deleted my account without fanfare.

And I thought of Ryan’s words almost a decade ago.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Education, Life, People and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Good-bye Instagram!

  1. Lue Perrine says:

    Ha ha Cheri! Thanks for the laugh! Whew, now we are entering the era of the professional “Hackers”!
    🤪

  2. ShimonZ says:

    Though not at all an introvert, I’ve always had a distaste for crowds. And while I never signed up for any of the social media, and so shouldn’t expect to understand it… it’s still a mystery to me that it becomes addictive. I would expect it to be quite tiresome.

  3. wkkortas says:

    While social media has its place, I’m content to be relatively analog. I would hate to dissipate what limited creative energy I have on 280-character flame wars.

    • Cheri says:

      What a great way to characterize yourself: analog. That’s funny. Recently we had a gas grill installed in Arizona. It was installed while we were not there (in the middle of August) Lesson learned: never have any home improvement or construction done if you are not there to supervise. We asked for a digital version of the grill. They installed analog. Now we are in a dispute with them.

  4. I joined FB in order to see any grandchildren photos I otherwise would miss. Suddenly there were names of people I didn’t know showing THEIR grandchildren. Not to hurt the feelings of these people I don’t know, but I don’t really care about their grandchildren. It’s a strange world when people need social media to make “friends”.

    • Cheri says:

      Hi AK, I understand. Many people are on FB in order to see what their kids and grandkids are doing. I admire you for staying technologically in the loop!

  5. shoreacres says:

    The addictive quality of Facebook and other social media is not an unhappy but unintended consequence; it’s been built into the platforms from the beginning. I don’t claim any degree of clairvoyance, but when I joined Facebook, many years ago, I did nothing but watch for six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, I deleted my account, and was gone.

    I understand that I’m an odd duck, but I still use a flip phone, don’t text, and have no social media engagement at all other than Twitter, where I follow some meteorologists and sites like Atlas Obscura and Open Culture. If I see something of interest, I follow the link to the original site. If I remember, I may tweet the link to one of my new blog posts, but even that doesn’t always happen.

    To be honest, I find something slightly creepy about an algorithm reminding me of events from my past, suggesting “friends,” or selecting the news that I might be interested in. Apparently my inner child has adapted the phrase I used so often when I was young. Instead of “Mother! I want to do it myself!” it’s now, “Facebook! I’m going to do it myself!”

    • Cheri says:

      I guess you and I are odd duck sisters although I will confess to having a smart phone. I harken back to teaching Orwell’s 1984. Who could have imagined the scientific “advancements” that may, in fact, take us backward instead of into a shiny future? Your comments made me think of all of the folks (including my relatives) who have invited Alexa and Echo into their homes.
      “Alexa, when did the Pleistocene Age begin?”
      “Alexa, how do you make cornbread?

      I’m sure Alexa and her handlers are harvesting a great deal of personal information. Do I sound like a conspiracy theory weirdo?

  6. Christopher says:

    Were I am an employer and hiring people, I would consider only those who are on Facebook, so I can know more about them and who their little friends are.

    Since any young person not on Facebook is more likely than not to be a weirdo, this would be all the more reason for me, as an employer, not to consider anyone not on Facebook.

    As for Twitter, I would consider only those who are on Twitter, so I can see how good they can write English, because writing anything meaningful when restricted to 180 characters isn’t easy.

    Also, their being on Twitter would tell me what their views on important matters are – all the better for me to eliminate anyone who thinks differently from me.

    I think most employers today are like the employer I would be………..

    • Cheri says:

      I think you are 100% correct, Christopher.
      Good news! Most people write so poorly that you may not need Twitter.

      Many people who have brought lawsuits over their “ disability” have been outed by the active FB pages.

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