OK, so I’m only six-ish months out… but here’s how my time away from facebook has gone so far- the good, the bad, and the frustrating.
*This was the right choice for my mental health: Let’s start with the very best part of quitting facebook and why I will not be back anytime soon… my anxiety has gotten so much better since deleting my account. I’m a measurably happier and less stressed person. I don’t know if my leaving facebook is forever (although my account is completely deleted so if I do come back I’ll be starting from scratch and I won’t be using it how I did before) but it’s certainly right for right now.
*I GOT BACK SO MUCH TIME!: I KNEW that ten minutes of scrolling here and twenty minutes of glancing at pictures and catching up on groups I was in there could add up, but I don’t think it registered exactly how much time I would get back when I took this app off my phone and, even more importantly, the wondering about what was being posted completely out of my life.
*I found more meaningful ways to reach out to fewer people– Again, I don’t know that this is always the model that needs to be followed, but for now I am enjoying going DEEP AND NARROW on my friendships and relationships and the people who really want to cultivate a relationship with me right now will find ways that don’t include facebook. Here’s a good and bad thing all at one: most don’t care enough to do that. It means I can really focus in on the people who want to connect and let go of the people for whom that is not a priority right now. Which is OK because, once again, friendship isn’t linear.
*I don’t know what I’m missing. In a really great way. I don’t think I ever seriously suffered from “FOMO”- to be totally honest I’m too tired at this stage of my life most of the time to be jealous of what other people are experiencing… unless maybe it’s long uninterrupted naps on the beach. But there was still an immense amount of guilt over how many things I was invited to that I just couldn’t make. This was especially true the past few years where finances have been extremely tight and we couldn’t afford to go see some wonderful shows I’d have liked to or to support other people’s small businesses, etc. I already know of plenty of things I can’t do or that scheduling won’t allow me to make happen thanks to personal invites, email lists, and my main social media I have left-instagram. It’s been a time saver and a stress saver to just not know the additional things I’m missing. And after a few months away, I’ve become more than OK with that. I’ve become happy with it.
*I’ve learned to explore more possibilities on my own: One thing facebook is great at is asking a large group of people be your best resource and to recommend everything from what to have for dinner tonight to fixes for a problem to who to call for a plumbing emergency. I’ve had to be more intentional about who I ask for recommendations since quitting that giant hive-mind, and it’s led to re-learning the skill of researching on my own- something I’d become a little lazy about. I was a little dismayed at the time this took at first, but it was a good use for some of the time I got back.
*Addictive personalities will find a new addiction. I have to admit my Pinterest and Instagram usage have definitely gone up. Still not enough to balance out the time I got back from the facebook scroll, but let’s just say I have pinned more cooking ideas than I’m ever going to think about accomplishing this year…
*Out of sight out of mind– The corollary to not knowing what I’m missing is that sometimes… I do know what I’m missing and I know that I’m not quite as missed as my ego would hope. My Blog stats dropped immediately when I no longer had facebook to help publicize new posts.- a humbling experience to be sure. Maybe people where only reading out of boredom, out of being conditioned to clink on the links when they were scrolling their feed. I had a brief couple weeks where I wondered if I should even keep blogging… then I regained some perspective and realized that even with the sharp drop in hits per post, I still had more readers than I ever anticipated when I started this blog and that once in a while my posts really do help people. SO for now, I’m still trucking along. There are other ways that I realized out of sight out of mind applied to me- people forgot to tell
me about things or events. People assumed I knew updates about their life- some of them quite a big deal- because they had posted about them. Many of my friends didn’t even realize I’d left facebook this many months later which really makes you think about how much it is meaningfully connecting people or what the limit is to that ability (because i do think it can help connect those who are intentional about it!) I’ll be honest that this works both ways too. There are some people I would have reached out to and checked in on more if I was on facebook but I have been too lazy about contacting through more traditional means. It has forced me to re-think what connection and relationships entail and how many I can sustain at one time.
*I miss the cute pictures: This is the main reason I still love instagram in spite of the advertising on there getting more and more annoying. The cute pictures of the tiny humans my friends are raising or are teaching or are aunt and uncle to just make me SO SO HAPPY and I miss having that extra dose of cute from the people not on Insta.
*Facebook is basically a monopoly– it’s hard to find something to “replace” it when it comes to some of the things I used it for the most- specifically the private groups and the messenger. I actually logged back on to messenger via my cell phone number but the alerts stay off and I only use it to reach out to people I don’t have other contact easily available for. I’ve mostly used it to get other contact info for the future. The private groups though… I miss how easy they made planning things and I miss the immediacy of going to some of those groups with a question or a stress and getting immediate feedback and support. I wish there were other options or apps that functioned similarly that were widely used but that just doesn’t exist yet. (IF you are using one that might fulfill one of these needs that you think may be widely used in the future, please share!) Still, one of the reasons I made the leap to leave is I believe there never will be other options if everyone just settles for the monopoly. I’ll admit, though, if I do come back in some capacity somewhere down the road- this will be the reason why.
*All the stories about manipulation and trolling etc. Is even more frustrating when you’re on the outside. Since I’m no longer in the love/hate relationship of using this platform, some of the really poor choices associated with it have become even clearer and uglier and if I think about it too long, it makes me really mad. Especially in light of the monopoly listed above.
So that’s been my experience so far. I thought I’d have something deeper to say but it really just comes down to- there are challenges for sure, but the good outweighs the bad for me. Once in a while my husband will have me come look at something on his feed or share a piece of information I’ d have completely missed otherwise, but for the most part I am getting to a shift in my perspective where I don’t miss it that much and I hope the other ways I’m communicating prove sustainable, because the boost to my mental health has been staggering.
Have any of my other readers quit a social media sight for good or for a longer period of time? (I know may of you do social media free weekends- I’ve been trying social media free sabbath with instagram and enjoy the break, but I think the intention there is a bit different!) I’d love to hear about it.