Why I Am Leaving Facebook

I’m not sure when it happened. Not really. I can point to the week, but not the day, when I had had enough. When I decided it was time – I am walking away from Facebook.

It may have been while I was in the Bay Area of California at a house where I had no obligations for 48 hours, and I was looking forward to just writing and reading, and instead sat on a couch and scrolled Facebook over and over. I would pull up Word and stare at it for a few minutes, and then pull my phone out of my pocket and see what has happened in the last 4 minutes since I checked last time.

Or on the five hour flight home, when I could not get online, and instead read a whole book and wrote three pages of content in plans for 2017.

Or it may have been the night before the Inauguration, when I wanted to read my new book, but instead clicked links on Facebook all night, filling me with fear about the upcoming administration.

A night where I felt the need to say something profound for the several thousand people who have some connection with me and have either friended or followed me. Marcus Aurelius would have told me that they were not thinking about me at all, but in my head, I had to produce, to be profound on command.

Or it may have been the next morning, Inauguration Day, when I penned most of this post and realized I am losing control of my life – I can’t read for more than a few minutes anymore, and I have already, 224 words into this post, checked Facebook three times to make sure I am not missing something. That morning on the way to work, I stopped for gas and checked Facebook before I got out of the car.

So, I decided to quit.

This is not an easy decision.

A significant portion of my income can be traced to relationships that are maintained on Facebook. I am connected, in some way, with more than 4,000 people there, most of whom are interested in my work in some way. Some of them donate regularly to my work, or supported us when my wife had a heart transplant in 2015, or gave money to make sure I was able to get away for a month in 2016.

But I also know those people love me, and they love the work  I do and the things I create, and the reality is, living in Facebookistan is preventing me from doing either.

So, here is the plan.

At the end of this week, I will delete my personal page. I will lose some things in this (pictures and so on) but I am working on downloading the archived versions.

My Rev. Hugh Hollowell page will remain active, and will be the place that things I write elsewhere are shared. I will also import my Instagram feed there, so not to worry – you will still see pictures of my cats, including Pepe and his magic ears. It will import all my content automagically.

I will maintain a presence on Twitter (for now, anyway) and Instagram. I will be writing on my blog (which you are reading right now) and you can sign up to get an email if you want to be notified when I post something new.

The best way to reach me is email at hugh@hughhollowell.org. If you have my phone number, feel free to text me. The number hasn’t changed in seven or eight years.

I announced this last week on Facebook, and the response has been interesting. Some people totally get it. Some people are almost angry at me. The most interesting response has been my own: I am a little afraid.

Facebook is easily the place I have the most influence, the most voice, the most “reach”. And as I have several ambitious plans for this year – plans that could really use reach, voice and influence to come to fruition – the fear comes to the surface again and again.

Can people still find me? Will people still listen to me? Will I still have any influence?

That I am scared to leave just provides further proof to me that I should, in fact, leave. I often find fear to be a good barometer of whether I should do a thing or not – because the default is easy, but progress is hard.

So, that is the deal. I am leaving Facebook, but will still be very active in the world. Especially on my weekly email newsletter I call The Hughsletter, where I will tell you what is going on in my world, but also share links to books I have read, articles I have enjoyed and links to things I have thought to be beautiful. In fact, in my plans for the future, The Hughsletter is the cornerstone of what I am doing in 2017, so I hope you will subscribe, if you haven’t already. It is the major way I will be communicating going forward as I seek to build things for my true fans.

If you have questions, feel free to email me, or ask question on my Facebook page. And thank you.

Seriously.

Eight Beautiful Things to Give as Gifts

Every Monday, subscribers to my newsletter get an email with links to at least five things I thought were beautiful. This past week, I sent them these – links to books, CDs and useful things that would make perfect gifts for someone – maybe even yourself.

  1. Peter Taylor is a writer read most often by other writers, in much the same way that Townes Van Zandt is a musician most often known by other musicians. A Summons to Memphis, his best known novel, is filled with family pathos, the experience of trying to return home and a father that is strong willed, yet incapable of managing his affairs. In other words, the perfect story of the Urban South.
  2. Shelby Foote was the soul and voice behind Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War. And he is the masterful craftsmen who wrote what is perhaps the best single treatment on the War Between the States, titled simply, The Civil War: A Narrative History. But before all of that, he was a novelist of wide acclaim. His novel Shiloh, about the bloodiest day of the bloodiest war in US history almost cannot help but to be amazing.
  3. MFK Fisher is probably my favorite writer that no one knows about. She was a fierce woman and a feminist before the word existed. She wrote about food, mainly, but saw that as her way of writing about love. She was someone who knew what it meant to face the world on your terms, and yet still have time for a glass of wine with a dinner you made for yourself. In the midst of the food rationing of WWII, she wrote about what to do when the wolf shows up at your door: You cook him.
  4. My favorite thriller of all times is The Silence of the Lambs (if you only know the film, make it a point to read the book, which is so much better). The sequel to that was Hannibal, where we see clearly in the mind of a serial killer. One of the plot devices in both books is Hannibal’s prodigious memory, and in an interview, Thomas Harris mentioned an obscure book that heavily influenced him called, simply, The Art of Memory. Part instruction book, part history lesson and part philosophy tome, it is delightful and instructive.
  5. In the Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal asks his prison guard for a copy of Glenn Gould’s 1955 performance of The Goldberg Variations. It’s perfect in every way – but in 1983, they recorded him doing it again, and it too is perfect, but in another way. Both versions are available on one CD.
  6. Thoreau said that a thing costs however much of our life we had to trade for it. In Your Money or Your Life, the authors take that to heart. It’s sorta a self-help book, but much more a “How to think about money and your life” book. It doesn’t promise you will get rich if you read it, but does promise to change how you think about money.
  7. Lots of us wish we were creating more – we wish we were writing more, or painting, or building or whatever our art is – but something keeps getting in the way. The author Stephen Pressfield gave that something a name, and wrote a book about how to kick that something in the ass and do your cool thing. If you know a person who just can’t seem to get that thing written, this is the perfect book.
  8. I love beautiful things that are also useful. Like the Opinel No8, a French pocket knife that has 4 pieces, no springs and costs less than 15 dollars. Perfect to keep in your bag for slicing that apple, opening a box, or cutting some string. And the design is so epic, it has won awards and been featured in design museums.

And while not beautiful, certainly useful:

  1. And while we are talking about useful – I use my Kindle tablet every day, and it’s less than $50. A computer you hold in your hand for $50. What a world. And if you don’t like sitting down to read, you probably ought to get an Audible subscription, where you have access to almost 200,000 audiobooks for less than $15 a month. And the first month is a free trial.