Leaving Facebook was the best thing I’ve ever done
Almost two weeks ago after much back and forth in my head, I deleted my Facebook. It was a hard decision, despite it being easy enough to press the delete button. A handful of things I use rely on it – like Spotify – which had held me back from deleting it for a long time.
I’ve almost constantly been asked why I’m leaving Facebook so I figured I’d write a post about it. Over time, it seems that the social network has evolved from having a network of friends who all created content, statuses and shared photos to a network of friends who passively use the social network. A better word for this would be “stalking.”
While stalking doesn’t bother me in the slightest (if it didn’t I wouldn’t have a very public Twitter profile), it bothered me that I was becoming one of these passive users. My Facebook activity seemed to be along the lines of quickly popping open a tab a few times a day to catch up on my feed, scrolling through it, then closing the tab. I rarely did much else on there other than maybe looking up a few friends who I hadn’t talked to in a while, but I wasn’t actually ‘interacting’ with them. Just seeing what they were up to.
Which lead me to my next problem. Much like Instagram – but perhaps with more depth – Facebook is all about posting those ‘great’ moments of life and leaving out those not-so-great ones. I found it somewhat of a depressive thing, watching friends’ ‘great’ lives flash past my eyes in a series of status updates and photos of them off doing fun things and wondered why I was sitting there alone browsing my Facebook feed.
That said, that my life is not particularly boring at all – I’m very lucky to have the fantastic friendships I hold currently and to be able to do the things I do – but perceptions can be a funny thing when all you see is the good side of the picture. This was compounded somewhat by the fact that I embarked on a total new direction for my life by leaving a religion I had followed for a long time around a year and a half ago. Religion is very social. You have a circle of friends that you spend a lot of time with because you’ve got something fundamentally ‘deep’ in common and you also just so happen to be in the same building a few times a week.
Despite what religious people may tell you, when you leave, you’re likely to lose contact with many of them. Not out of hate or thoughts of ‘bad influences’ but more the lack of convenience (and the fact that they’re busy doing a lot of religion-related events). Facebook was interesting in a major life change like this, because it was good at intensifying the effect of feeling cut off and left out from events and ‘spontaneous’ get togethers. I still have many good friends from that time in my life whom I love to pieces, but the ‘circle’ certainly rapidly diminished in size.
So, using Facebook became an exercise in feeling left out and wondering about the past, as well as becoming a sort of tumbleweed-ridden place. Many of my friends don’t really post there, the feed is mostly just the same people (oh, and a shitload of advertising). Scrolling endlessly through updates that didn’t really matter became simply mundane over time and actually playing the “update your status” game tended to be an exercise in “will anyone reply to this?”
I don’t think I’ve ever met and befriended a new person through Facebook as a platform on its own. I don’t think I really had a proportionate amount of meaningful interactions outside of liking statuses and perhaps exchanging a few messages. I don’t think the narcissistic nature of it is good, especially when you’re a passive user. It’s unbelieveable how much idle time is just automatically filled with checking a Facebook feed.
I think Facebook is making us lazy friends.
Take a look at your Facebook search history. When was the last time you actually had a conversation with half of those people?
Extremely contrasting to my experiences with Facebook, Twitter has been an invaluable resource for socializing. I’ve met some of the most amazing people that I am lucky to have become good friends with in the real word. I’ve met people across the world with similar interests that I wouldn’t have ever met otherwise. I go to social events (meetups) which are great ways to meet new people. I could praise Twitter all day. If you’re not on it, I would strongly suggest you get into it.
I left Facebook two weeks ago and I’ve been filling the time with more meaningful things. I’ve read three books since then. I’ve reconnected with friends who noticed I had left and got in touch. I’ve started an extreme obsession with front end development. I don’t stare into my screen for minutes on end and scroll for long periods during the day (well, except on Twitter). I don’t get instant satisfaction from ‘liking’ a status and feeling like I’ve had a meaningful interaction with someone.
Maybe I was spending too much time there, but now I’m not, and my life is no worse off. In fact, it’s better. I might go back one day, but for now, I’m perfectly happy not being part of it.
Besides, since it seems like deleting your Facebook posts is not forever after all, perhaps the nuclear method is a better way after all.