Things I’ve Learned From Deactivating Facebook
I’ve deactivated my Facebook and it’s about time.
Hell, part of it was I couldn’t remember my damn password.
I’ve been off Facebook more or less for 16 months; more or less in the sense that I’ve consciously logged on maybe 6 times since August 2014 (three times to share photos of vacations, twice to accept friend requests people told me about in person, and once just to see if I was missing anything — nope).
I used to be on daily. What happened?
Let’s see where it starts.
Flash back to summer 2014. I was working as a marketing coordinator in an office with no windows and part of my duties were monitoring the company’s social media. I had to log on and update the Facebook page and adverts on a regular basis. Pretty standard stuff for a small company.
At first it wasn’t so bad.
Heck, it was kind of fun to half-assedly (totally a real word) chat with my friends while I worked, but then something started to get to me, or maybe it was an aggregate of things, really.
I noticed that annoying little beeping sound it makes when you get messaged, the way it was always online on my phone, that I was reading so much useless crap all the time, and hitting the refresh button, and even getting enraged at how bad the admin panel for pages was to use.
Plus, there was the fact I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing a damn thing at the office and…
Ultimately, what tipped me over the edge, was the realization that I was almost 30 years old (at the time) and I was logging on to a website several times a day to see what people were up I kinda know were up to when I could instead be doing all kinds of cool shit myself.
It hit me. Hard.
I took a week’s vacation and went to Vegas with a friend. When I came back, I checked my Facebook one last time before signing out and making sure I didn’t stay signed in. Remarkably, it worked. I quit Facebook nearly cold Turkey.
Since then I have gotten to doing better stuff, as well as different stuff. Working on a Phd, working on better and more interesting writing contracts, gone on 5 trips and never mind the thousands of photos I will one day have to sift through.
Here’s what I discovered during the time I’ve ignored Facebook:
I’m wasting my time on the Internet differently.
Two years ago, my time wasting was a mix of Facebook, Buzzfeed and wandering down the Wikipedia rabbit hole.
I’ve since dropped the hour or two that Facebook asked for, and also abandoned Buzzfeed because I honestly can’t handle reading any more numbered lists with America’s Funniest Home Video style commentary.
How am I wasting all those hours now? Well, the big three wasters are now Reddit, Wikipedia and Google News.
At first I couldn’t care for Reddit, but now it’s soap operatic comment threads keep me hooked a good 15–30 minutes every morning as I crawl out of bed. What is it about reading shit posted by strangers on the internet that’s so interesting (more so than people you know on Facebook?). I honestly can’t say — but I do suspect it’s going to get a Facebook style boot from my life at some point too.
As for the other two, Wikipedia is still up there and though I’ve always read a bit of news, it’s never been as compulsively as I do now. Guess I gotta fill in those wasted hours some how.
I’m less annoyed with those sometimes annoying friends.
We all have them. Those friends who are generally awesome good people, but who somehow manage to be really kind of annoying online.
There’s the message a minute every time you log on type (“Oh hey, what’s up!?”), the post motivational bullshit every day type (“Live life like every moment is your last”), and even the “I can’t believe you’re on Facebook”.
Worst are the cringe-inducing “look how quirky I am posts”.
Yes, I know you have a weird sense of humour and are creative, but I really don’t need your zany observations, photos of your silly walk, or anything that makes me think I’m living in a real life sitcom. I watch enough trash as is.
I get more work done. A lot more.
This one was kind of unexpected.
Not sure how much of it is a combination of factors, but this past year and dash of months have seen me getting one hell of a lot more done in my free time.
All my academic work seems to get done on time, I hold down about 3 awesome different writing contracts at a time, I’ve written several screenplays and sent them off to festivals and competitions (even earned a 2nd place), got into photography, helped produce a film (which died on the cutting room floor), and am about 75% of the way through a roughly 250 page novel that I felt like writing just because. The list goes on.
Okay, so it’s not all because I quit Facebook, but giving fewer shits about what other people are up to and more about what I want to get up to does make a difference.
I feel better, all the time.
I suppose this has to do with all the awesomeness that I get up to. Though, it’s nice to live without all the Facebook-fueled activity envy (“They went where!? They bought what!?”).
We keep seeing snapshots of interesting things that other people are doing and when they’re all added up it sometimes seems like an insurmountable wall of cool things we’ll never do.
Hell, I’m pretty sure I’m one of those assholes too since 50% of what I logged on for the past year and a third was to post photos of the cool places I went to.
As it were, anytime I even thought about going on Facebook, logging in just to check the details of a party, I began to feel physically ill.
It wasn’t as bad as Alex in Clockwork Orange, but I definitely felt that tinge of “don’t go back down that alley!” jabbing me right in the chest. I think it’s safe to say I kicked the habit.
I miss more parties. Meh.
I’ve missed out on more parties that I can count on both hands because no one bothered to let me know in person or over email (and I sure as hell aren’t gonna frantically check Facebook every weekend to see if someone maybe invited me to a party). It’s actually kind of funny if you think about it.
Curiously, I hasn’t bothered me. Nor have I spent my weekends wondering what other people were up to or even suffering from any “fear of missing out”. Instead, I spent that time doing other stuff.
Plus, I have gone to parties, shows and all kinds other events — perhaps more selectively too (no Facebook guilt for hitting “maybe” when you really me no).
I’ve also learned that people have a way of talking to you in person about it or letting you know in other ways if its something more exciting than the usual Saturday night pub sit-in.
I’m less concerned with having to make witty remarks every five minutes
Let’s be honest with ourselves. 90% of what we post that isn’t a cat picture is either a boast (“Wrote 20 page paper in 8 hours!”) or a witty / snarky / pissy comeback to someone else’s post (“Pssh. I wrote mine in 8 minutes.”).
It felt like it got to a point where everything everyone said had to one up whatever was said before. Kinda like Reddit, actually, but with fewer witty remarks.
I don’t care who likes what I say.
We’ve all checked the like counters on our stupid posts before.
We might have even puzzles over why one post which we felt was super awesome only got half the likes of another which was less awesome.
I certainly wasted more hours than I could care for explaining Facebook behaviour to people at my old job. The reason? Who cares; it doesn’t matter.
We should stop being so damn self-centred, wondering what other people think of us, hiding behind our screens curled up in little bundles of worry. So many you said something that wasn’t that funny, or even kind of dumb. We all do. Besides, everyone will forget about it 15 minutes later.
I get my cat photos elsewhere.
We can’t get enough cats. Even if we have cats living in the house with us, we all need to look at other kitties from time to time.
I mostly just Google image search or stumble upon my cat videos through YouTube now. Though, I definitely spend less time with other cats and more time with mine, curiously.
I don’t need to relive high school.
Remember when everyone cared who was dating you? Remember when you had to be really careful about passing notes around in class? Remember high school? Remember how we understood dating back then? Want to go back?
Facebook has no right to know what goes on in my personal life, nor do most of the people on my so-called “friends list”. It all just leads to more envy, more gossip and more “why the hell am I looking at their pictures from 2009?”.
I’ve witnessed drama and breakups unfold on Facebook, heard friends bitch about their significant others who didn’t want to update their status or like all their cutesy posts, and all kinds of other nonsensical stuff that should have died with our teenage selves.
Also what’s up with the friends list anyways? We need to keep the people we know on a list and attach a number to it? Do we need to know that many people? How many of them do we even know? Do we want to them to know all this stuff about them?
If I wanted my life to be an open book, I’d probably write one. Which realistically means no.
Everything on the internet is actually kind of ephemeral.
On the one hand, nothing that’s on the internet ever leaves, but on the other there isn’t really a single thing on there that I can remember for more than five minutes.
For instance, I can’t remember a single good conversation or heartfelt moment of bonding that took place of Facebook. I’ve probably had them sure; but do I remember them?
Funny how I can think of all kinds of good conversations and neat moments that happened in person.
Originally published at www.anachaj.ca.