Ah, Facebook- the thing people of my generation love to hate. We all do it- we spend hours pointlessly scrolling through our newsfeeds, chatting about the person we knew in high school who suddenly got pregnant, discussing what so-and-so’s new relationship status means, or getting incensed at a particularly distasteful status or article someone posted.
We also often take the time to decry changing security settings, lamenting how statuses didn’t get enough likes, and un-tagging unsavory pictures of ourselves from 2008. For something we dislike so much we spend an awful lot of time complaining about how much we use it. And for something that is so terrible, most of us are caught in its undeniable grip.
Over the years I toyed with deactivating my account but never seriously committed to it for more than a week at a time. I needed Facebook to keep in touch with friends across the world! I needed to log in to my account to access Spotify! And, let’s be honest, I needed it to snoop on other people. How could I join in on conversations between friends about the latest Facebook drama if I didn’t have one myself?
After a while I realized that all of these things mattered less and less. I stopped using my Facebook to log in to other internet-based services. I started reaching out to overseas friends more by having actual conversations on Skype rather than on Messenger.
I personally made the decision to deactivate my account a few weeks ago, and I am unabashedly happy I’ve done so. My other various social media accounts as still around; I still post on Instagram, where I have fewer followers, and on Twitter, mostly as a professional platform. I still have access to my friends in far-flung places, but only the ones who I really want in my life.
I’m pleased with my decision, but the most common reaction I get from other friends when they discover I’m gone from Facebook is surprise (and sometimes consternation). How could I possibly delete my Facebook account and be okay with it!? In order to address this question, and avoid sounding like a broken record, I thought I would clear up the reasons why I quit Facebook cold turkey:
1. Facebook made it easier for me to judge other people (and be judged myself)
How many times have I gone on to a high school acquaintances profile only to discover that she’s now a single mother still living with her parents in the place we grew up? My automatic reaction (and yours too, let’s be honest) is to judge her for “screwing up” her life in such a way. But what do I actually know about her life? I’d rather not categorize her in my mind based on the few pictures (or many hundreds of pictures) she posts of her kid on her profile. Maybe she actually left left an abusive babby daddy and is working part-time in order to support her kid and pay for her education. Good for her!
And likewise, I’d really hate for someone to see me in the same way. I’m currently only employed part-time, living at home with my parents, still playing the flute. From the point of view of some people, I probably look like a disappointment. “Look at her, she had so much potential, and now she’s just living at home with her parents,” I can see them saying. But I really don’t feel like I’m wasting my time, and I don’t feel like I failed. But how would you know that from my Facebook? I don’t want to judge other people and I don’t want to be judged either.
2. I want people to know me in person, not via my social media profile
How many times have we heard someone say, “Oh yeah this girl I know from work was talking about her time at USC and I had to pretend I didn’t know what she was talking about even though I already know she went there from her Facebook”? This sort of thing has always made me a little uncomfortable. Facebook gives you no way of knowing who has viewed your profile and when, and if it were up to me, I’d really rather not have everyone know where I’ve been and what I’ve done in the world without me actually telling them.
It also makes me uncomfortable when I bring up a topic of conversation (i.e. my recent trip to Korea) only to hear someone say, “Oh I know! I saw it on your Facebook!” I actually had a really interesting antidote to share, but now I’m suddenly feeling like I’ll be going on too much about it because you apparently already know all about it!
3. I wasted too much time on it
I’ll admit, I would check my Facebook right after waking up in the morning, right before going to bed at night, and compulsively during the day as well. I spent forever on Facebook for no reason. Someone from high school would friend me, and through them I would find the profiles of allllll these other people I only vaguely knew, spending hours looking at their pictures, trying to discern what they were doing with their lives.
I’m all for spending free time chilling out in whatever way you please, but for me Facebook turned from a free-time habit to a regular-life habit, and having my time sucked away like that was, for me, just not worth it. How much time could I have been practicing instead of looking other peoples’ Facebook profiles? The world will never know…
4. It made me constantly compare my life to those around me
This is probably the biggest reason I wound up deleting my profile. I kept seeing updates from friends still in London about all their concerts and outreach projects, which really made me feel like they were accomplishing when I wasn’t.
I realize I could always be working harder. But I’m at the point in my life now where I really need to buckle down and focus on my own goals and relationships, without worrying about what everyone else is accomplishing. I don’t need to see statuses like, “$280 an hour! I’ll take that raise!” or “I got offered a trial with the Halle!” or “OMG I met the president!” (True story- these were really all statuses I saw a couple weeks ago.) There are all great things for those people, but it doesn’t do anything for my self-esteem at an already uncertain time.
And let’s be realistic. No one’s real life is as good as their Facebook life. Maybe these people weren’t just playing concerts and winning jobs but also worrying about things like rent and family, finances and health. No one posts the bad days, only the good ones. I just got tired of reminding myself of that constantly.
5. I found myself getting annoyed or angry at pointless things
I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty good about avoiding conflict in my Facebook career. I tried as hard as I could to not engage in discussions when people would post articles I didn’t agree with, knowing it’s much easier to get involved in a political brawl online than it is in real life. That being said, I was still tired of having to see peoples’ opinions on everything from the weather to the current state of Congress, and then reading their subsequent arguments of said things. I really don’t care what your stance is on gun rights; all I know is that I’m probably going to be generally annoyed at you trying to pick a fight over the internet.
6. I got tired of this: http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/07/7-ways-to-be-insufferable-on-facebook.html
So there you have it- I’ve been off of Facebook for a few weeks now, and while I still get the occasional urge to check it, I’m still feeling alright about the decision. I’m generally feeling much more connected with my own life. I check my phone less. I feel better about the goals I’m working towards. Obviously I still have my down days like everyone else, but I don’t feel the social pressure anymore to put a shining facade on my life. Overall, I would say that’s a good thing, but maybe I’ll have to come back and update about my progress in a few months.