Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On Leaving Facebook


I left Facebook back in mid-October. The election season was in its final, crazy days and I was completely overwhelmed by the acrimony of the posts I was reading every day. Even the posts I agreed with seemed so bitter and hostile. I couldn't take it anymore. So I decided to take a break from Facebook - until after the election was over. Whatever made me think it would be better after the election is beyond me, but that's what I told myself.

I removed the Facebook app from my phone, as I've done before for other breaks, and told myself I could check it periodically, but only on the computer. Then, a funny thing happened. Once I got past the first few days of wanting to open Facebook during idle moments, like waiting in line at the post office, or on a break at work (the addiction is real) I didn't feel the need to go online at all anymore. Not anywhere. I wasn't terribly interested in Instagram, or this blog, or anything. It was like white noise.

It was so nice.

I didn't feel like I was missing anything, but a few friends in far-flung places got in touch to say they missed me on Facebook. So, shortly after election day, I went back on to give it a try. The level of hysteria and vitriol was at an all-time high; it was much worse than before the election. I made a remark that was misinterpreted and gave way to what felt like personal attacks from friends who I thought knew me better. And that was it. I decided I was done and I would never go back. And I haven't.

It's really horrifying to say, but after I went off of Facebook, my life, the actual life I live day-to-day and that is ever-present in front of my eyes, came into better focus. It's not healthy to be so distracted by social media, and yet when you are, you don't really notice. I found I had so much more time after I left Facebook, and I hadn't even considered myself that heavy of a Facebook user! Clearly I was. I found renewed interests in puttering around and staring out the window. And then, I started to hear my own thoughts again. My own ideas, my very heart's desires and my own soul's yearnings. These things had been dulled and drowned out by the constant barrage of other people's opinions and thoughts. Hearing my own thoughts again translated into wanting to blog again. I'll never go back to Facebook.

If you're thinking of calling it quits on Facebook, here are a few articles and resources to help you on your way:

Hooked on Our Smartphones. Curbing all phone use, including Candy Crush, is my next goal to conquer.

Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry? When you remove yourself from the online anger, your blood pressure goes down instantly.

The Importance of Staring Out the Window. I found this gem of an article after discovering my rekindled love for staring out the window. Too good.

The Skimm. If you worry that you'll miss out on news on Facebook, sign up for this daily skim of the world's news. Besides, news on Facebook is notoriously unreliable anyway!

Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Self-Esteem - And How to Stop It.

Have you ever taken an extended break from Facebook? Or quit all-together? I'm so curious to know if Facebook and Social Media are generally more positive or negative forces in your life. Please chime in in the comments below. xo

(Image via Lucy Houghton)

10 comments:

  1. I just removed it from my phone about a week ago. I am so over it. I am contemplating just shutting the whole thing down but I have so many loved ones all over the globe. The negativity vs heartwarming photos is totally unbalanced though, so I am leaning towards a total shut down. Its such a waste of energy and also its addicting.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear you've basically experienced the same thing! I completely agree with the heartwarming photos vs negativity. Here! Here! xx

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  2. I also quit Facebook right before the election. I just couldn't take it. Couldn't we all go back to posting pictures of our cats and kids?? I hate what it has turned into, because I also have family all over, and I love connecting with them easily, but it's just not worth it.

    I find that I'm still on my phone, but I do a lot more of the New York Times crossword puzzles now ;)

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    1. Cats and kids! Ha!!! So true. Those days are long gone. :(

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  3. I have never had a Facebook account and from what I hear from other people, I'm not missing out on too much. I stay in touch with those I care about on the phone or via e-mail and that feels good for me. I am not on Pinterest or Instagram either. I do Snapchat (just with my sister) mostly for giggles, and I follow a few people on Twitter. I really try to be deliberate with my time and energy and most social media outlets seem like a time sink with little return. I love to read blogs (like this one!), but I only read them using Feedly so they are all together in one place and I can decide to sit down and enjoy them in batches when I feel like it. For me, not having those things in the first place is much easier than trying to quit or cut back on them later. Sometimes it's best to just say "no".

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    1. You're smart! Definitely not missing out one bit. I really miss emails and phone calls with friends and family. Just doesn't seem to happen anymore...maybe I'll work on making it happen.

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  4. I keep thinking about quitting Facebook too, mostly because it's just a time waster for me. Sometimes I think of all the books I could have read, all the paintings I could have painted, all the quilts I could have sewn instead. And I didn't think I was that heavy of a user either! Thanks for the articles! ~K

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    1. It really is so much time. I've been meaning to start carrying a book with me and reading in moments I might otherwise go on Facebook or scroll through Instagram. And all the advertisements. UGH!

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  5. I really need to do this! Immediately after reading your post, I deleted the facebook app from my phone. Baby steps...

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  6. I had Facebook deactivated most of the time for about 7 years, and deleted it once and for all this election season, for similar reasons to what you described (I posted an article about voting for Hillary and it sent my cousin into a tizzy). For years I saw little value in FB but kept it cause I wanted to keep in touch with far flung friends. Finally, this year, the negative outweighed the positive with the election season and thing with my cousin. I didn't use it enough for actually communicating with far away friends to justify keeping it. I always felt worse about life after spending time on there.

    I am hoping our kids generation is the one that shirks social media and remakes culture without it! I know it is sometimes used for good but I believe the negative mostly outweighs they positive.

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