On the first of December 2015 I gave up Facebook. I already discussed the reasons why in my original essay, and I won’t go into them again today.
What I do want to discuss is my post-Facebook life. How have things changed, people’s reaction to me doing so, and any consequences I’ve noticed.
Quitting Facebook is very much a contrarian thing to do, it goes against the accepted social norm (I’m 25, and everyone I know has Facebook), and yet I found that whenever someone asked me why I quit, and I enumerated the reasons, they often agreed with me but simply weren’t prepared to take the plunge.
Because I used the Facebook Messenger app for communication with many of my friends, and I didn’t bother announcing to anyone that I was leaving, the first few days I had many people contact me via other methods to find out what happened to me. It wasn’t such a big deal, and now I can chat with them via Line, WhatsApp, or simply iMessage. The communication aspect for the top 10 or so people I contact hasn’t been as issue, we’ve just switched medium.
I’ve noticed that I’ve started to use Instagram and Twitter more now. I already use Twitter for work (hello, @whisperand.co) and decided to also start using my personal twitter to tweet about philosophy, my life, and also the essays on this website. With Instagram, I post a photo a day or so, and this is just because I find it a great way to remember what I’ve been up to, and also keep friends and family on the other side of the world updated with my goings on. I don’t particularly browse Instagram, and I have notifications turned off. This may appear to be a slight cheat – after all, Instagram is owned by Facebook – but I feel that there is quite a big difference in how one uses the two, and that’s what really matters.
For instance, I wrote an essay discussing the Grass is Greener on the Other Side Syndrome and I talked about how we cultivate these curated gardens on our social media profiles and that my browsing other people’s gardens, we can make ourselves feel negative emotions, because our lives don’t measure up to other people’s ideals. I have felt that this effect has completely disappeared from my life in the course of a month. It’s quite obvious really, because I don’t even see what others are up to, there is no way that I can even measure or compare myself against them, and so I don’t set myself up for the inevitable trap that is comparing my reality, with someone else’s highly edited news feed.
The flip side of this is that I am quite unaware of what is going on around me, such as events and even local news, but I find that quite liberating, and it clears up some noise from my daily life. I can still find out what’s going on by simply asking people, and I don’t have the impression that I am missing out on much.
Facebook really did have quite grip on my life, as for the first two weeks I kept typing “Facebook.com” in my browser window almost as a reflex when I had a slight pause in work on the computer, and then I would end up on the Facebook login page (something I hadn’t seen in years).
Then I would go and do something more productive with my life.
And that’s exactly how I have now started to view Facebook. As a drain on my time and resources. I now lump it into the same category of playing computer games. I used Steam and it tracks the time you spend playing. When I saw that I spent 15 hours playing a certain game, it freaked me out to think that I was spending – or should that be wasting – my life away like this.
On occasion as I am out and about I still think “oh, this would make a witty Facebook post” or “I should take a picture of this and post it on Facebook.” and then of course I realise that I don’t have Facebook anymore, and I laugh at myself. Still, it goes to show just how ingrained anything that we do on a daily basis can become. It’s been a month now, and this is still happening, albeit less and less.
A few other miscellaneous benefits I’ve noticed:
- I’ve begun to value privacy far more. This is also why I removed the Google Analytics tracking code from this website.
- I have more free time.
- I find it easier to focus on work, because the number of notifications I receive has dropped dramatically.
- I have found a much bigger focus on myself and my life.
So for me, giving up Facebook has made a positive influence on my life, and it really hasn’t been half as big a deal as I though it would be. The sun still rises each morning, and I wake up with a smile on my face.
Let me know your thoughts regarding social media in the comments section below.