Why I’m writing this post
First off, I want to say that this is not one of those “I quit Facebook and here’s why you should too” posts. This is a post about a personal decision to leave that particular social network, not because I feel the need to justify the decision or encourage other people to leave it, but because so many people have asked “why?”
Coming to the decision to quit
I joined Facebook in 2008. At first, I only checked it periodically, and it was lots of fun seeing friends’ posts and connecting with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. After a while, I discovered a number of games and got really into that part of it. At one point I created a second Facebook account so I could send myself gifts in various games.
After a few years of spending way too much time on games and news feed checking, it started to occur to me that Facebook was becoming an addiction of sorts. It started to feel like drinking alcohol became for me in my early 20s: fun at first, but then becoming more and more frequent until I was beginning to hate myself for how much/how often I was drinking and feeling out of control about it. I had to eventually lay off the booze cold turkey until my late 30s or so, because I didn’t want to go down that particular path. Likewise, I began resenting the time/energy/productivity black hole that Facebook had become in my life.
I did cut back at one point, in an attempt to keep things in check. I deleted my second account, reduced the number of friends in my primary account to between 100-150 people and quit all social games but Candy Crush Saga. After all that, I found myself still feeling resentful but couldn’t articulate the reason to myself for the longest time.
So earlier in 2016, I started a list, adding items when I noticed things I didn’t like about using Facebook. I’ll repeat that list here:
- Time spent feels unproductive rather than enhancing my life
- Too much exposure to useless information I don’t want really need or want to see or read (but end up clicking anyway)
- Self comparison to others, whose lives always seem so much more exciting and interesting than my own on there
- Want to spent less time reading about what everyone else is doing and more time doing things I want to be doing
- Want more meaningful conversations and relationships beyond the ease and facade of “like” and “love” buttons
- Want to develop and rediscover hobbies that give me more joy than scanning online feeds
What it all boiled down to: I simply didn’t enjoy using Facebook anymore. And recently it occurred to me, why continue to spend time doing something I don’t enjoy? Life’s too short for that.
How I quit
I quit slowly, over a two month period. I didn’t want to simply delete my account without letting people know I was leaving, so I sent private messages to each friend. I made sure I found people on Twitter and LinkedIn where possible (the two social networks I’m continuing to use) and made sure people had my contact info before unfriending folks. I had to set up a Gmail account for Page Admin purposes for two pages I manage professionally and get that configured. I downloaded copies of my photos, un-liked Pages, left Groups, etc. Once I had finished all that, I deactivated my account.
I know I could have deactivated my account without going to all that trouble, but the knowledge that everything is still there waiting for me would have made it difficult to stay away. Now there’s literally nothing for me on there, so there’s no urge to log in (which would automatically reactivate my account).
The reactions from my friends ran the gamut: surprise, curiosity, envy. Several people cheered me on while wistfully mentioning they wish they could quit too.
The results so far
I haven’t missed it too much, though the first week without felt like there was a hole in my life. I have found myself tweeting a little more frequently than I have in the past, but Twitter and LinkedIn have never had that addictive pull like Facebook does, so I’m not too worried about that. I can still connect with those I like, love, admire and work with professionally. I’ve started to read more, am crocheting a new sweater and plan to re-string my violin this week (look out cats and husband).
So for everyone who asked the reason why I left, there you have it. As I mentioned, I didn’t write this to encourage others to quit Facebook, but to explain why I did. If you have been considering leaving the network already, this post may help you figure out why you want to leave and hopefully give you the courage to do so. It’s a decision each person has to make for themselves. If you’d like to talk to someone about it, I’m happy to do so – just get in touch!