When I Saw Someone's Dead Grandfather, I Knew It Was Time To Hit Delete

Once upon a time, technology made our lives better and more convenient.

With the abundance of technology at our fingertips today, why is it that digital interaction can feel like a huge hassle -- particularly if Facebook is involved?

I used to love using Facebook. That time is long gone. The golden days of Facebook ended when simple status updates such as “Sally is feeling hungry for dinner” were replaced by crimes against my eyeballs.

One morning, I was eating my breakfast and happily scrolling through Facebook when up popped an image of someone’s grandpa. I looked closer, and realised his eyes were closed and his skin was grey… because he was DEAD.

Someone had posted a photograph of their grandfather, on a hospital bed, dead as a door-nail, and had written about his death in graphic detail.  Rest in peace, grandpa… but I wish that your grandchildren remembered the “peace” bit and respected yours by keeping your moment of death private.

Seeing a photo of someone's dead grandfather was the tipping point for Carla. Image: Supplied

When I joined Facebook, almost ten years ago now, I didn’t realise that I had entered into a secret contract with my “friends” to share everything about our lives. Making an Announcement on Social Media (about moving house, or the gender of your baby, for example) is something that you either care about a lot, or something you hate.

Never before had I seen so many messages expressing shock and betrayal than when I uploaded a photo of my newborn baby, without having posted a pregnancy announcement in the months prior.

Yes, there were lots of wonderful and supportive messages, but amongst them were huffy comments like, “You kept that hidden!” and “I had no idea!” It is strange indeed to live in an era in which ordinary people demand press-releases from their acquaintances.

I had been wanting to delete my Facebook profile for years, but there always seemed to be a need for the app -- usually the promise of good, such as a party invitation or a writing commission.

Ultimately, I decided that being less connected was a good idea if it meant I could sidestep all of these new ways to offend or be offended, and if I could avoid the trolls (I’ve received many a message calling me stupid, shallow and poor because I write lifestyle articles).

Carla decided being less connected outweighed having a Facebook account. Image: Supplied

It was particularly embarrassing when my Facebook profile was hacked. I work as a digital creator, so I should have known better than to click the video link my long-lost friend had sent me, and then enter my account details into a box that looked like the Facebook log-in.

My account then sent out videos (about discounted sunglasses, I think) to all of my friends, some of whom were kind enough to contact me to say that I had been hacked.

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When I finally deleted my Facebook profile last year, it was like giving up a habit. I felt its absence from my life. I wondered if important news – personal or world – was being announced that very moment on Facebook.

When I saw friends and family in real life, I began to notice how much they referenced Facebook during conversations, as though Facebook was a person or place: “Well, Jane said on Facebook that she’s got a termite infestation,” or “Facebook said that Aldi had sold out of the sleeping bags.”

Carla found it hard to say goodbye to her 'stuff' on Facebook. Image: Supplied

Sometimes, people would talk about events in their lives as though I already knew about them. When asked them to explain what had happened, they’d say accusingly, “I put it on Facebook,” as though the whole time I was supposed to have been the silent researcher of their lives.

This might sound ridiculous, but it was hard to say goodbye to my “stuff” on Facebook. All the memories, the photos and the friends who were from different parts of my life. It was like burning photo albums and address books.

But there was one thing I was glad to say goodbye to: the majority of my status updates. I had tried to remove them from my profile, but the only way to do it was by going through my timeline and deleting the statuses, one by one.

The process was time-consuming and cringe-worthy, and I felt ashamed of all the things I had done wrong, which I had recorded on my Facebook in photos and words.

There were insensitive jokes that I had made at the expense of others, who were often more vulnerable than myself; the insults to people I knew (my husband) and people I didn’t (celebrities); complaints about my privileged life; ill-informed and hurtful views – the list goes on.

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There was no need to pay a long, drawn-out farewell to this old version of Carla, by painstakingly deleting each status update. It was easier just to burn it all down to the ground, Daenerys-style – or in other words, delete my entire account.

Now, I see my time on Facebook as a curious dream. Did I really spend hours on Facebook, reading and writing and observing? I couldn’t imagine having a Facebook profile, or using it regularly. It’s not part of my life any more, and I’m relieved.

Featured image: Supplied