Last year, I decided to take a break from Facebook. This was due to several different reasons and I wanted to start the New Year with a clear head. My Facebook feed had slowly become a place of negativity and bad news, an outlet for people to share gripes and verbally attack those whose views didn’t match their own.
It was also filled with faces that I barely recognised, who’d I’d once met via a friend or work and politely accepted their friend request, yet had very little in common with. I mean, yes you can mute people if you don’t want to see their content but it kind of defies the point, don’t you think?
What was initially intended to be a two-week break has turned into four months and, after a period of reflection, this is what leaving Facebook behind has taught me:
Even though I have various social media channels, Facebook in particular was the one that seemed to eat away at my time. Like any other habit, I’d find myself reaching for my phone and scrolling through my Facebook feed before breakfast without a second thought.
I’d subconsciously become hooked and would waste literal hours on there. Don’t want to do the chores? Check Facebook for a bit. Faced with a big task at work that you don’t really know how to tackle? Have a scroll on Facebook first. Waiting in a queue? Hello Facebook! Now, I spend that time reading books, replying to emails or having actual human conversations.
This one is absolutely my own doing, however, when I had a personal Facebook account, I always felt an obligation to share every picture, ‘check in’ every time I did something remotely interesting and generally live my entire life online.
Case in point: on mine and Adam’s wedding day, I updated my surname on Facebook about six hours later (that said, are you even properly married these days if it’s not ‘Facebook Official’?). Of course, I still chose to blog and use Twitter and Instagram but it feels like a slower pace, like there is less of an expectation to be constantly connected.
The one real take away point I’ve noticed recently is that I’m so much more present. Facebook made me lazy in my relationships. I’d read about a friend’s good news and simply hit ‘like’, rather than truly engaging with them. Most of the time, I didn’t think to call them or send a message too.
Now, I make time to pick up the phone and arrange catch ups. I take pleasure in having face to face conversations and finding out what people have been up to first hand as I haven’t already seen it all on Facebook.
I had joined a lot of Facebook groups in the nine years since I first opened my account. From money-saving to blog support, I do miss having these handy resources all in one place and the connections that they bring.
Fear Of Missing Out
I’m nosy and, every so often, I do get that ‘FOMO’ panic from not being on Facebook. I’ve missed people’s birthdays and congratulating old school friends on big life events such as having babies, getting engaged or moving to other countries. I can’t be added to Facebook events or tagged in family pictures anymore and there’s is certainly an undeniable feeling of ‘being out of the loop’ some days.
The only things I’ve kept are Facebook messenger and I’ve created a dummy profile solely to manage my blog page. Will I go back? Probably not but never say never. That said, the people who instantly assumed I must have ‘unfriended’ them without bothering to ask me outright have only helped to reiterate my decision to leave behind a platform – and stale relationships – that I’ve outgrown.