I deactivated my personal Facebook account more than a year and a half ago. We were on vacation. Wi-fi was only available in our hotel lobby and nowhere else. I preferred to sacrifice social media for a week, instead of soaking the sun on the white sand beach on my vacation.
After 3 days, I realized something that blew my mind.
I was still alive!
Nothing really happened to me when I didn’t get on to social media. The Earth was still turning. I was still alive, breathing, functioning and having great time with my family. I briefly questioned my existence on Facebook. What was I gaining from it? What was I providing to my friends? As I contemplated , it became apparent that I could survive without Facebook.
When I came back from our 7-day vacation without social media access, alive and intact, I decided to go cold Turkey. I immediately deactivated my account, as soon as we landed back in the Wi-fi land. I did not make an announcement; I did not make big remarks about my one-week without FB. I just disappeared. I would have to continue my life without funny memes, snarky e-cards, depressing news articles and game invitations. I was worried, I would miss important news about my friends though.
I just notified my husband and my immediate family about the change and that was it.
I had 900+ friends. Sadly, no one noticed that I was gone from Facebook. Less than a handful of friends asked me why I unfriended them. I told them it wasn’t personal; I unfriended Facebook altogether. Those were the friends with whom I was already keeping in touch with in person, via phone or e-mail. I guess the rest survived without being informed about my current status as much as I did without knowing what they were up to.
By June, unexpected events erupted back in the old country and Facebook and Twitter became the main communications platform for many people. Media was intentionally ignorant and mum about the protests. I reactivated my account to follow the events from my own account, mainly because my husband was weary of me peeking over his shoulder to see his FB feed.
I stayed active and tried to self-moderate my Face-time! after the events have calmed down. I was kind of doing ok, but knowing what Facebook-free life was like, the time I was spending on FB was bothering me. I wasn’t sharing anything personal anymore, except for articles I found interesting and some good news.
Finally, I deactivated my account, this past May, one last time. I posted a brief status update before deactivation, to stay in touch with whomever wanted via e-mail or phone. Thanks to Facebook’s new algorithms, I think barely anyone saw my message. I now communicate with my friends and family mainly via phone and e-mail. If there is any important news in my family’s or husbands common circle, I get the news from them personally.
I admit, the connections you can make and keep up with, with Facebook are wonderful. You connect with your long lost friends, your next door neighbor you don’t see all winter etc. Does it matter to stay connected on FB, though, if you are not going to really connect with them? I mean really, like in person or on a call. If not, what’s the value a person would get from passively watching people online?
Nowadays, I find it wonderful that you can live a normal, if not better, life without knowing what’s happening with your 1000+ friends on a daily basis. I got my time back from Facebook, that I can spend on better things or in better ways:
- Now, I spend less time sitting in front of my computer, especially at home. That means more physical activity.
- I spend less time looking at my phone (even though I wasn’t using FB on my phone and Instagram is my main source of mobile entertainment). I look around to enjoy faces and scenery.
- I spend more face-to-face time with my children and family.
- I am more productive at work. I get less distracted; I don’t lose myself on my FB feed.
- I do more blogging and writing rather than passively browsing my feed.
- I appreciate my friends and family who really knows and remembers my birthday. I never had my birthday on FB anyway, but my family and friends would still write a brief message on my wall instead of calling me in person.
- I call my friends for their birthdays instead of sending them a short, cold message on FB.
- I read more books. Reading more would be a great benefit by itself to justify cutting off all social media if I weren’t blogging.
- I don’t have an excuse to procrastinate to get to important things such as working out anymore.
- I don’t voluntarily subject myself to constant negativity that has been increasing on social media anymore. I happily avoid negative news and trolling.
On the con side:
I am not informed about events organized on FB. When your FB account is deactivated but not completely deleted, people can still send you messages, invite you and tag you, which cause a delusion that you are still active on FB, even though you are informed about these things.
Think about all the things that you want to do, but don’t do, because you tell yourself you just don’t have time. Then consider the time you spend passively monitoring your FB feed. Weigh yourself, compare what it costs you vs. what you gain. And try it out for a week or two. Then let me know how it goes.