Why I (sort of) Quit Facebook

I have been a loyal Facebook user since it launched.  You know, back in the days when you had to have an email address associated to a college or university to login.  Back before Newsfeeds and selfies and hashtags and social media as we know it today.

The purpose of this post is not to bash social media or Facebook in particular.  It is simply to explain the revelation I had and why I’m happier not using Facebook as much anymore.

I did a social media blackout experiment about a year and a half ago.  That was mostly about wanting to back off my constant need to check my phone and my social media accounts.  I wanted to be more present in my day to day life, so I gave up social media for a month.  What I learned from that experiment is that I didn’t really miss social media once I got used to not using it, though I still couldn’t bring myself to pull the plug completely.

More recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching about life, what’s truly important, and what I can be doing to better myself and my surroundings.  This is in part due to The Happiness Project, a book I’m reading by Gretchen Rubin, who did a year-long happiness project to see if she could make herself happier.  After some evaluation, I realized one of the small changes I can make quickly and easily is to start censoring social media.  When I really sat down and thought about it, I probably got more negative feelings from Facebook than positive.  I like seeing updates from family members, pictures of friends’ kids, or funny anecdotes from friends’ lives… but there is a lot of other stuff people post that bring me down.  Finger pointing, complaining, religion, politics, mom-shaming, memes stereotyping entire groups… I could go on and on about the stuff that I was allowing into my life that only brought me negative feelings.  So why was I allowing it?  Because I was afraid of missing something important?  If there’s really something that important, I will find out another way.

DELETE.

Okay, so I really only deleted the app from my phone.  I still have an account- so I can post pics of L for family members and friends who live far away and still need their L fix (though I post to my Instagram account and it posts to Facebook for me).  Also, it comes in handy for planning events and keeping in touch with groups of people (local police wives, women in my community who are a great source for business recommendations, etc).  I probably login via desktop every other day to check my notifications and do a run through the first 3-5 stories in my news feed, but that’s it.  And guess what?  I feel so free and unburdened of people’s negativity.

I also got rid of my Twitter account, which I hadn’t used in months anyway.  I kept Pinterest (because, duh) and Instagram, but on Instagram I stopped following a few accounts and started following some accounts that post positive quotes and pretty sunrise and sunset pictures.

I am making a conscious choice to remove the negative and surround myself with positive.  The social media is a very small step in that direction, but it’s one that has definitely made a difference.

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My Experiment: Social Media Blackout

Remember when I vowed to stay off all social media platforms (including the blog) for a month?  Here’s how it went…

 

Day 1: All social media apps have been removed from my phone.  It actually makes me a little anxious to be making this commitment. I feel like I’m going to be MISSING SOMETHING. I have to remind myself to be rational. We were all just fine before social media. If someone needs me, they can always call, text or email me (novel concept, I know).

I pop dinner in the microwave and instinctively reach for my phone to pull up Facebook or Twitter. It reminds me why I’m doing this. Social media is a borderline addiction, and it’s sad that I can’t wait patiently for 60 seconds. I’ve gotten into the habit of occupying every second of my day.

 

Day 2: JD is working this evening. I look down at my phone, ready to select a social media app. Realizing there are none and I’ve committed to a month long blackout, I feel… almost… alone. I wonder if social apps genuinely make me feel less alone, and more connected to other people when JD is working nights.

 

Day 3: JD has a sudden clutter attack and wants to sell a bunch of stuff in the attic. He is a pack rat, so I want to take advantage of his sudden change of heart. Doing so means downloading the Facebook app so I can post to a local buy/sell group and keep up with anyone who expresses interest in buying.  I am slightly disgruntled that he is already making me break my commitment, but I legitimately log on just long enough to post the item for sale.

 

Day 6: I’m finding that I don’t miss social media much. There are occasions where I’m bored and tempted to go online and peruse some feeds. There are also times where I want to turn to it for a fix after a stressful day or to fulfill that guilty pleasure need. It’s like a gossip magazine in that way. You hate to love it, but you do. And there’s something both wrong and completely satisfying about reading it, but I haven’t cheated. I’ve come close- very close- to opening up Facebook to poke around “real quick,” but talked myself out of it.  For me, this isn’t just an experiment, it’s a test of willpower and I’m determined to prove I can do it.

 

Day 10: JD posts a picture of me and I get an email notification. I log onto Facebook to make sure it’s not a horrendous picture that I need to untag. I don’t count it as cheating, although I do accidentally start scrolling through my news feed and have to stop myself.

 

Day 11: I go to my local police wives group to post regarding a July event. (Still not cheating, I knew I would have to use Facebook for some events.)  I don’t scroll through my news feed, but can see the first few posts before I pull up the group page. Two posts, both braggy, both annoy me. For the first time, I’m really relieved to not be using Facebook, and realize this experiment may result in me changing how I use it going forward.

 

Day 18: I cheated today, and I’m okay with that. I’d had a long day. JD was on night shift and the baby was asleep. I was relaxing, sipping on a glass of wine, and I wanted something mindless, gossipy, a guilty pleasure satisfaction. I initially resisted, but eventually decided I was okay with the cheat. I checked Pinterest and Facebook. It was glorious, no guilt. Totally worth it. But what’s more important is that the main objective of my experiment is still working. I’m avoiding social media as a compulsion, as mindless way to pass the time. I even cut back on the blogs I was reading, realizing I read so many of them for the sake of reading them, not because I found them particularly interesting or relatable.

 

Day 26: When I look down at my phone and see the date, I realize I only have a few days left of my experiment.  I’m enjoying this time, so it’s almost sad in a way, but I’m really glad to see that I’m not so desperate to get back that I’m counting down the days.

 

Day 32: A friend has to remind me that it’s August.  My month is officially up and I hadn’t even noticed.  I’m in no hurry to get back, but am looking forward to writing some blog posts and sharing some pics of L.

 

Conclusion:  I truly enjoyed my social media-less month.  The beginning made me realize how addicted to social media I was, and my hiatus forced me to do exactly what I wanted- be more present in my day-t0-day life.  I wasn’t distracted during a conversation with a friend or while L savored a spaghetti noodle.  Going forward, I will continue to use social media to stay connected with friends and family, but I’m going to commit to only using it at certain times of the day, not obsessively.  And if things get out of hand again?  I have no problem taking another break.