I was going to have my next blog post be about my Ireland adventure, but my heart is guiding me to take a little break in the adventures and share something that has been gnawing at me. I deactivated my Facebook a little over two weeks ago and I wanted to express what has happened for me in doing so. I have a few blogging friends that have also gone on the Facebook-free wagon and I’ll be featuring those lovely ladies on this post as well. First and foremost I would like to mention that while this might be a blog post that is bashing Facebook, I don’t want anyone to read this and get upset. The main reason I wanted to post this was to get thoughts from my blogging friends out there, I’m curious if anyone else has been going through similar experiences with Facebook or if I’m just possibly over thinking it all and I just need to chill out :).
As I was hiking at the beautiful Powell Butte here in Portland the other day, an inspiration hit me to create a questionnaire/survey to be taken by people that have deleted or deactivated their Facebook accounts and when a couple friends expressed interested in it, I decided to get the ball rolling. I myself answered the questions to the survey, as seen on the first one below. I also have a few blogging friends that answered the survey following mine and one friend that is not on the blogosphere that answered the survey as well. Basically I wanted to get a feel for what it might be, collectively, that is driving a lot of us to turn our Facebooks off. I wanted to get some answers and then share them so that other people out there in the world that might be going through similar feelings can feel less alone in this. Let’s face it folks, Facebook is everywhere and if you don’t have it there is a serious feel of alienation…well, take a look at my answers and see how I feel!
When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join? I remember my cousin talking about Facebook around 2005-2006, but it seemed to be mostly popular with kids going to big colleges/universities, so I didn’t think it was for me. I did have a MySpace and was pretty addicted to that, I loved updating my backround songs on MySpace and changing the background designs, I even met my first long-term boyfriend on MySpace, haha. It was actually that boyfriend that inspired me to create a Facebook account in about 2008 and I got hooked/addicted to it pretty quickly.
How long have you been off of Facebook now? I deactivated my Facebook about 2 weeks ago, but this isn’t the first time I have done this. I was without Facebook from about October-January last year, so the longest that I have gone without Facebook is for almost 3 months.
What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook? Wow, where do I start?! Honestly, I had a lot of reasons that motivated me to finally hit the “deactivate” button on my account. The biggest reason was that I decided it wasn’t helping me with my mindfulness practice. When I was traveling with my friends in Ireland, I got completely distracted after I put up a new picture on my Facebook account and got a ton of likes/comments…this in return took my attention away from the fact that, “holy shit I’m in Ireland!” Instead of being where I was, I was sucked into a screen. I have an addictive personality by nature, I have given up a lot of addictions, but I was definitely noticing that I was completely addicted to the excitement that I got when my phone lit up with new alerts on Facebook. I was also motivated to deactivate so that I could focus on my life, with an impending career change and figuring out where I was going to live next, I really had no time for distraction. Another motivating factor was CONNECTION, I want to feel real, raw in-your-face connection. I love intimate gatherings, I love going on hikes with friends, I love talking about weird metaphysical stuff with friends and I felt like a good majority of my “connection” on Facebook felt robotic. And lastly, I felt like my energy was being sucked away on things not for me! I would have Facebook friends that would air all of their dirty laundry on there, they’d rant about their personal lives and discuss their hatred for certain politicians. It hit me that when I scrolled down my Facebook feed, it made me physically ill sometimes just taking on other people’s negativity.
How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook? It has been incredibly enlightening! I have gotten a ton accomplished! I got all of my affairs in order to go teach English overseas, even though it looks like that will be put on hold because Visa paperwork isn’t going through (stay tuned for that future blog post, haha) I have picked up on my writing again–finally completing TWO FULL BLOG POSTS, I found temp work here in Portland until I plan to take off, I have had get-togethers with close friends, I have had deep, soulful chats with friends, hikes/walks/runs in nature. I have cooked and baked more. I have had long phone chats with friends/family that live across the country from me. I have felt energetically clear and I feel like I’m being less pulled into things that were never meant for me. When I went on Facebook, I’d feel like my mind was kind of static-like…I don’t know how to put it in words I guess, but basically I just felt like there were too many things pulling at my energy.
What are some things that you miss about Facebook? There are friends and aquaintances that I definitely miss, people from previous jobs that I have worked at, seeing friends’ kiddos growing up, there were plenty of positive posts that I miss. But I got to thinking lately, never ever in history have we been able to stay connected with people from our past the way that we can now days….but maybe, just maybe, we aren’t supposed to stay in contact with every single person we meet. It’s all about vibration, we come in and out of each other’s lives for certain times and then we exit….letting go gives us freedom to move on and forward. I have so many memories of all of the amazing and sweet souls that I have been blessed to come into contact with in my life, but it doesn’t mean I need to know what they are having for breakfast today. Instead, I choose to smile at the memories and come fully into where I am and who I am with right now. Facebook has served it’s purpose for a time in my life, I do have gratitude for the connections it indeed brought me, but just as we have to let go of people in our life…I’m going to let go of my old attachment to Facebook. I do miss posting my blog posts on Facebook and I should come clean on that–I do have a Facebook page for my blog website, but I can’t see any other people on Facebook, it is strictly for updating my site on there. I have 111 Facebook followers (thanks guys!) on my page and I didn’t want them to miss my new posts. :). Anyhow, let’s read my blogger friend’s thoughts….
The beautiful Gina from Virtually Gina answered the Facebook survey I sent her, read her thoughts below!
When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join? Spring 2008. My then-fuckboi (now-husband) Jeff had just moved to Florida and it seemed like it would be a good way to stay in contact with him.
How long have you been off of Facebook now? This round of deactivation has lasted 16 days. I’ve had a few Facebook-free stints. The longest I’ve gone was four years without it (2009-2013).
What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook? In 2009, I wanted to heal following a particularly nasty break-up. Most recently, though, I have found that an active Facebook life clutters my mind in a way that I don’t appreciate. When I’m off of Facebook, my mind starts to settle. Life becomes quieter. I find it easier to live moment-to-moment without that alluring “pull” of the blue-and-white F-bomb. (Get it? That’s supposed to be funny.)
How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook? Quiet and, at times, fulfilling. I’ve done a lot more baking and reading. I’ve posted one blog, done a few art projects, and even taken to altering a few items of clothing. I like to get crafty with my raiment; it helps me stay fashionable without impinging on my bank account.
What are some things that you miss about Facebook? Seeing thoughtful posts from co-workers and friends, links to interesting articles, photos of my BFF Katy’s kids, and the occasional invite to an event that I would actually attend. I have to keep in mind that in order to access the aforementioned items, I have to sift through tons of ego-based posts, annoying selfies (including my own – haha), photos of people’s kids whom I’ve never even met and probably never will, links to boring articles, and invites to events that I cannot or would not attend in the first place. So, finding items of quality on Facebook sometimes feels like sifting for diamonds in the rubble.
Aleya from Alohaleya shares her answers to the survey below and she wrote a recent article about Facebook as well, read that here: Is Life Better without Facebook?
When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join? I first created a Facebook account in 2006 or 2007. I think it was for curiosity more than anything. Most of my friends were on it so I had to see what all the fuss was about. 🙂 I don’t think I was that addicted to it though – I remember cancelling my account about a year later.
How long have you been off of Facebook now? I’ve been off Facebook since June 2016. I’d been on and off a few times in the past few years…but this is definitely the longest I’ve been without it. I seemed to have moved past the temptation phase of reactivating my account.
What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook? So many reasons, very similar to yours. It was not only eating up my time, but I didn’t like who I was while using Facebook. I was judging and comparing a lot, and feeling bad about myself.
Now, one can argue that Facebook isn’t the cause of those things (i.e., we can’t blame Facebook!). But there’s something about the setup of Facebook, the way it provides a continuous feed of other peoples’ thoughts, opinions, and photos – many of which are negative and fear-based – that it takes a LOT of effort and discipline to not get sucked into all the ego stuff it activates. It just wasn’t worth it to me anymore. I wanted all that gone – I wanted to consciously focus my time and energy on things that were life and soul-affirming. Like reading books!
How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook? It feels a lot simpler. I have more energy to devote to the things I really enjoy doing. Things feel more authentic – because hardly anyone is truly authentic on Facebook (including me, when I was on it).
What are some things that you miss about Facebook? Knowing what’s gong on in my city/community – I’ve missed hearing about some fun events, because most people I know communicate them through through Facebook. It’d also be nice to share my writing, blog, etc. with the wide network I had before, but…oh well! Overall, I’m happier without it.
Nicole from Beninlife shares her answers to the Facebook survey below:
When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join? I joined Facebook in 2005, though I cannot recall the reason why! I suppose MySpace was being phased out and Facebook was becoming more popular so I joined the trend.
How long have you been off of Facebook now? The first time I deactivated my account, I stayed off for three years! Then in 2009, I bought a house with my former partner and thought we could post home improvement projects for our friends and family to see, so I reactivated it. The second time I deactivated my account was just recently, in December of 2016.
What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook? The last year, there has been an intense build up around the recent Presidential elections. I did not realize at the time, but reading several posts daily that seemed to be dividing society on political, social and environmental issues finally resulted in me being in a constant state of anxiety. I am currently serving with the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa and I realized I was not being present with my community nor the projects I was working on. I would constantly check Facebook to see if I missed anything, as this has been my only connection to the states since arriving in Benin in 2015. This addictive behavior really disturbed me, so I decided deactivating my account was a simple solution to decreasing my anxiety and increasing the level of being present within my daily life.
How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook? My life has become so much more simple! I was worried at first that I would lose connection with friends and family back home, but in fact our connection has increased. I have become more proactive in sending emails, making phone calls, updating my blog, and writing letters. As far as my community, I have been able to focus more on my projects as well as integrating. I realized that everyone is watching the U.S.A right now, and the biggest action I can take is showing the locals in Benin that Americans can be kind and that we are here to help versus discriminate.
What are some things that you miss about Facebook? Facebook had become my news source, which is a good and bad thing! As I cannot verify the validity of the news sources that are posted on Facebook, I have a newfound interest in researching credible news sources and staying more informed on world issues objectively.
And last, but certainly not least, Chaya from Chaya Grossberg shares her take on deactivating Facebook:
When social media first became popular, I was going through some major challenges that had me isolated and not able to read, write or use the internet much for a few years. This was in 2000-2003. When I emerged from that, I thought people still used floppy discs. I had been on 7 psychiatric drugs and bedridden from drug induced fatigue and mental impairment for about a year…but was still a writer at heart.
After that I briefly dated a guy who lived across the street from me, who I literally met while I was moongazing one night (quite the opposite of online dating). He talked about Friendster and would use it to invite his friends to events and parties. This seemed very foreign to me. A lot of the time I couldn’t tell if he was talking about his friends or his “Friendsters” since it seemed a lot of the people he was Friendsters with weren’t actual friends, though I couldn’t tell. I eventually tried Friendster in 2006 because another friend suggested it as a way to meet guys to date and I was coming out of a relationship that was hard for me to move on from.
This worked poorly to get me a date with a guy I had no interest in!
I resisted Facebook, but joined in 2008, I believe. I didn’t get a smartphone until 2014, and didn’t have internet at home, so I would only use Facebook in conjunction with everything else I did online for about an hour at the library, or at an office where I worked. I still found it pretty annoying, and tried to keep most of my interactions off of it. If someone wrote to me on there, I would email them back instead of replying on Facebook, or sometimes even call them instead.
I was excited to be able to reconnect with old friends though. I’d had so many powerful connections in childhood, high school and college and in my earlier twenties that I felt sad to lose due to moving away and different life paths and had actually fantasized about some way to be able to stay in contact with all of them. So that part was very exciting to me at first, tracking people down, getting surprise friend requests from old friends, seeing people’s photos and what they were up to. I didn’t get addicted right away, though. I would only use the internet for about an hour a day, so I made lists of things I needed to do (I still do this, but with a smart phone it’s much harder to limit access), and there wasn’t endless time for Facebooking.
I have been off Facebook now for about 4-5 months. I deactivated a month and a half before the 2016election
and then went back on for one day, right after the election. I’ve gone back on a couple of other times for a few hours, including on my birthday, but even the birthday withes on Facebook had completely lost their charm.
When I first deactivated, I thought it would just be for a week or so, maybe a month tops. Up until then, I knew I was addicted to Facebook, but like many people, I needed it to create events, spread the word about things I was doing, market my business, share my writing, find out about events, stay in touch with new friends…the list was endless.
And then one day… none of those things seemed necessary or relevant, and I had reached a breaking point. Facebook was ruining my life. I felt like I had thousands of Facebook friends but almost no real ones. I realized I was looking for real friends on Facebook, when I needed to leave Facebook to find people who were interested in engaging off of Facebook! Simple logic, but it hadn’t occurred to me before. I thought that if I expressed something on Facebook, my friends on there would want to talk to me about it by phone or meet up in person (which did happen a few times, but more often than not people were on Facebook to engage on Facebook), when in fact they were just as addicted to Facebook as I was, and therefore didn’t have time to engage in real life.
What motivated me to deactivate Facebook was this extreme isolation I was feeling. It actually felt like I had reached a point where I knew it was my only choice for living a “real” life where I was actually present some of the time. I still get addicted to texting, email, and other internet and smartphone related things, but it does feel better now.
I wanted to see who I was without Facebook. It felt like such a powerful addiction that it had taken over my life. The few times I went back on I was flooded with negative emotions such as anxiety, jealousy, sadness, shame, embarrassment and generally feeling competitive with or rejected by others (even when I got a lot of likes and positive comments). All I could think of was who didn’t like me or my posts, and my Facebook friends who were no longer really in my life. I’ve moved around a lot and therefore have lost touch with thousands of friends. Facebook had become a reminder of everyone who was no longer in my life. Being Facebook friends with these people started to feel much worse than not having any contact at all, because it simply reminded me that these people were no longer actually available to me for real connection.
I felt this heaviness around Facebook, like I was expected to keep up with so many people and like it was an unpaid job to keep track of what thousands of people were doing or thinking.
I would also get jealous of people who were more popular than me and always got hundreds of likes on everything they posted. I would literally think there must be something wrong with me or my friends must strongly dislike me or find me annoying if I wasn’t getting as many likes as so and so. But there was no amount of likes that would ever make me feel better and in fact, the more likes I got, the more obsessive I became and the more “rejected” I felt.
Since I deactivated, all of that has fallen away! I no longer feel preoccupied with grief over people who are no longer actively in my life, or jealousy over people who are more popular than me. There are hundreds of people I no longer think about much at all, but when I do it feels more grounded.
I realized I was also okay with letting people forget about me, if that would happen due to me not being on Facebook. In fact I feel much lighter and like I’m not holding onto all these people or expecting them to hold me in their consciousness all the time. Then when someone does reach out to me, it feels real, and when I think about people or reach out to them, I know it is because I naturally want to do so. I’m not reacting to Facebook “propaganda” or pressure, or putting any weight on others to respond to me in that way.
Everything feels lighter and it took awhile, but I’ve attracted some other friends who don’t use Facebook, or who hardly use it.
Everything in my life got better when I left Facebook. For the first few weeks I felt so high, and so pleased with myself for finally kicking my addiction. I don’t miss it at all! It was like night and day how I went from my life revolving around Facebook, to my life revolving around my actual needs and actual real life connections.
I do get isolated sometimes, which has always been an issue for me as someone who enjoys a lot of solitude, but now I don’t numb out the isolation with Facebook. I either feel it or reach out in a real way like by making a phone call or going out. I do still sometimes engage in other addictive internet behaviors when I’m isolated, such as excessive reading, but at least I am targeting specific topics that I want to read about rather than scrolling mindlessly and passively on a newsfeed about infinite topics that I’m not actively choosing.
Not being on Facebook makes me feel sort of like everyone else is caught in a fake reality, but I don’t judge anyone for using it. I simply pat myself on the back because I know I made the right choice for myself. Every time someone mentions this or that Facebook group, I simply feel relieved that I won’t be checking it out.
Now that I’m off I have no idea how I ever had the time or mental space to absorb that much constant mental stimulation. I used to get really curious about certain other people from my past and look them up on Facebook; this was part of my addiction. I was neglecting my own life to passively observe what other people were doing. Now that I don’t do that, it seems so obvious that minding my own business is a healthier and more integrated lifestyle for me.
A lot of the activist organizing (and arguing) that took place in my Facebook feed (and in my mind) no longer even seems real. It literally seems like just mental activity in other people’s minds that has no relevance to me whatsoever.
I also notice that I use email and texting more, and I sign up for more email lists because I don’t feel bombarded with input.
What do I miss about Facebook? I miss some of the really amazing writing of my friends and even some writers and celebrities who only post their writing on Facebook. I wish they would put them on blogs as well so I could follow them. I even considered emailing some of my favorite Facebook posters to ask them to start blogs, but never got around to it.
I miss seeing posts about spontaneous opportunities to meet up with people, and being invited to the private events of new friends who don’t know me well enough to invite me personally when I’m not on Facebook.
There’s a website called allevents.in
that allows me to see all of the public Facebook events in my area, so that helps a lot (anyone can use it). I don’t miss people constantly marketing to me and inviting me to their workshops and whatnot (except for the very small percentage which actually interested me).
I actually don’t even miss asking for advice about practical things on Facebook. But every once in awhile I do. Every once in awhile Facebook seems like it would be the perfect place for me to post a question, a request or share something I wrote. But I know it’s a slippery slope, so I generally refrain and use google or call a friend instead. I post things on Google plus, Patreon
, and my own blog
, where I don’t get sucked into any rabbit holes of scrolling or obsession or distractions that waste my energy that I could be using to face my own life and address my problems.
One other thing I miss is links to really good articles. But I don’t miss it that much. I get less news for sure, but even that feels pretty healthy so that I can focus my energies more constructively on things I can actually do something about. Reading the news can make me feel powerless. Instead, I’ve mostly been reading things that inspire me or help me improve my health, or interesting stories. I like having less input too, because it allows my imagination more space to find its own realities and solutions.