14 Weeks Without Facebook

You may remember that I de-activated my Facebook account at the beginning of the year.

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It’s been a really healthy change in my life, for the most part. Now that I’ve had some time to step back and zoom out, I realize how much I depended on this site as my source of information about my friends. Now that it’s gone, it’s something that I often forget about. That is, until I miss a friend’s birthday, or realize that I don’t know something that everyone else in the room does because it was posted on Facebook.

To sum up, here are the Pit Falls I’ve hit so far…

The Drawbacks

  1. I have forgotten WAY TOO MANY birthdays. I hate to admit it, but I really depended on that Facebook calendar for reminding me of friends’ birthdays, and I’m sorry. I’m a big birthday person, so I’m going to need to make my own birthday calendar to keep track.
  2. I write Facebook content for work, but I’m out of the loop, so I have to read up on new Facebook features. Not a big deal, but something I took for granted before.
  3. Friends expect me to know things about them that I don’t. The funny thing is, I remember having this expectation when I was a regular Facebook user. After I shared a picture of Velveeta on Facebook, for example, I expected everyone in my life to know that I had adopted a cat named Velveeta. Sorry, facebook-less friends. I adopted a cat in 2011.
  4. Occasionally, I worry about being forgotten. I’ve had friends tell me that they’ve almost posted an old picture of me or that they’ve tried to tag me in something and then stopped because they remembered I’m not “there” anymore. It makes me feel oddly absent from the digital world.

All of those things are okay, though, when I consider all of the benefits being Facebook-less has afforded me.

The Benefits

  1. I have more room in my head and in my day. I read more at night. I feel way more creative. I am writing A LOT more. I know that there haven’t been frequent blog posts, but I’m heavily editing/writing/re-writing my novel and I’ve got some other fun projects in play. That’s been really good.
  2. I write/talk/text my friends directly and more often. Without Facebook passively passing me updates, I realize when I haven’t talked to a friend recently. And I especially look forward to catching up with friends in person. I just had lunch with a friend that went something like this:
    • her: “I got the job!”
    • me: “Oh my gosh congratulations!”
    • her: “And we found a house!”
    • me: “That’s amazing news!”
    • her: “Oh how was your half marathon?”
      …It’s just nice to tell your own stories, you know? And, apparently, a lot can happen in 2 months!
  3. I just feel better. I compare less, and strangely, I feel simultaneously less exposed and less alone. I don’t worry that I’m inadvertently about to learn some weird fact about a former friend who I really don’t know anymore. Translation: I don’t feel like a stalker.
  4. This is a big one… I don’t define my friends by their political leanings. I didn’t even realize how much I was inundated with political posts until I turned it off. I’m still passionate about equality and animal rights, and, well, a lot of things but I read on my own and donate where I want to donate and I vote. When I do talk about controversial or political things, these conversations tend to be real back and forth thoughtful conversations. And they happen in person. And people are kinder without screens to hide behind.

You would think that I would feel extra isolated and lonely, but I don’t. Being away from Facebook just makes me more focused on the real life things that are happening in front of me.

In short, I don’t miss it, and I don’t have plans to re-activate my account anytime soon. I’ve logged into Facebook approximately 3 times in 2016 including the time I just did to grab these pictures, and each time, I’ve spent less than a minute in the site. This is compared to the hours per day I spent perusing Facebook in 2015.

Oh, look, I have 50 notifications and I haven’t updated my picture since Christmas:

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Overall, it’s been a good thing. I am aware that something that used to have a big presence in my life is now absent. It’s kind of how you feel after moving away or going through a break up. It’s an adjustment, but mostly it’s incredibly freeing. And I know a lot of people love Facebook, use it only in healthy, limited doses, and would feel way to disconnected without it. I admire you. For me, right now, this is better.

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