A Year Without Facebook

Image from Flickr by benstein

Last May, with a deep sense of relief, I quietly deactivated my Facebook account. Since that day one year ago, I have not logged back on. This is not a self-congratulatory post; I’m writing it because I know many people are overwhelmed with Facebook and have considered quitting it for good too, and if you’re one of them, I want to help if I can.

If you absolutely love Facebook or have never considered walking away because it’s a great way to stay connected to distant family and old friends or you need it for your job or you are too involved with groups that only operate there etc., it’s fine. You don’t need to justify that to anyone. This post isn’t for you.

If, however, you often find yourself weighing the pros and cons of the site and wondering if you could do without it because most of the time you actually hate it or you hate the way you feel about yourself and/or people you like/love when spending time on it, this post is for you.

Here’s what to expect when you break up with Facebook:

At first it will be surprisingly easy, the way quitting most addictions is easier in the first few days when your resolve is strong. And then it will get harder, because the new quiet that was such a luxury begins to feel a little lonely. You wonder what you’re missing. You wonder if you’ve made a mistake. This feeling comes and goes, but—I promise—eventually it stays gone.

At first you’ll find you have so much more time to do the things you love—reading, crafting, taking long walks in the evening—and then something else will start to creep into those moments, like another social media site or television or just the Internet itself. You’ll have to work to stay mindful and protect that time, but it will never be as hard as it was before.

At first you might believe that all your “true” friendships will continue on a regular basis once you ditch Facebook. They won’t. Not all of them. People are busy and you’re going to lose touch with some of them, and this doesn’t mean they’re not real friends. They’d probably be there for you if you really needed them, but not everyone is the kind of friend you’ll go to lunch with once a week to make up for the fact that you’re no longer interacting daily on Facebook. This is fine.

Eventually you’ll feel immense relief at all the things you did miss out on, because you’ll realize they’re not the important things. You’ll learn to like people again because you no longer know everything about them, nor do you feel obligated to know. You’ll feel so much better about yourself because of the fact you feel better about others.

You’ll realize you’re setting a good example for your kids by cutting your screen time and reclaiming some of your privacy, and you’ll be doing them a favor by giving them back some of their privacy too. You’ll concentrate better. You’ll learn again to treasure some memories just for yourself.

I still miss Facebook sometimes. I miss sharing funny and sweet moments from my life with others not in my immediate family. I miss looking back through years of memories the way I’d page through an old photo album. I miss those few dozen or so friends whose posts always made me smile, or laugh, or think about something in a different way. Some of them are people who I connect with in real life, some are on Twitter.

And for those I lost a connection with, I have to weigh that admittedly sad loss against the memories of the constant flood of memes and outrage and racism and politics and fake news and conspiracy theories and oversharing and bickering and clickbait and ugliness and the flat-out sadness of it all. Is it worth it? For me, it was not. I hope, if you’re struggling with the decision, I’ve made it a little easier one way or the other for you to decide whether it’s worth it to you.

Comments

  1. My friend, you just helped make my decision easier. I’ve struggled with this for a while. I have a bad case of FOMO, but I’m also tired of my love/hate relationship with Facebook. Thank you for this post!!!

  2. This is a well written piece. I’m one of those people who use it to stay in touch with the grandkids and family. And true, a lot of my groups only meet on FB so this helps me a lot. What saved my sanity is the fact I don’t have a problem seeing things I didn’t like and hitting the delete button. I learned how to “hide” people so I only saw their posts if I went to their FB page. My FB page is fairly quite unless I go looking for a little excitement…lol. Once again, great article Elizabeth.

  3. Great Article!!

    I deactivated my account around the beginning of last December and I haven’t logged in since then. I was surprised by how much free time I got. Sometimes I don’t even have any stuff to do, I just sit…and it is like getting to meet yourself for the first time. That was what I profited more than time…having a clearer mind, just seeing your mind think!

    • Hi Beza! I love your comment, I could not have said it any better than this: “it is like getting to meet yourself for the first time.” I know just what you mean. That’s how I felt last summer when my mind quieted down and I had time to think and daydream again without the temptation to fill those moments catching up on other people’s lives. Good for you. 🙂

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