I’ve been thinking about writing this post for about a year. It was going to be called, “Six Months Without Facebook”. Six months turned into a year and I told myself, “A Year Without Facebook” would be a suitable title.
But that never happened and now we’re sixteen months along since I deactivated my Facebook account in July of 2017. So why isn’t this post called, “Sixteen Months Without Facebook”?
Simple answer, really.
I decided that “Sixteen Months” is a phrase reserved for parents with 16-month-olds and I didn’t want to intrude on their exclusive lexicon.
I am not With Child. I am Without Facebook. There’s a U2 joke in here someone, I can sense it.
Maybe I overthought this whole thing. Overthinking may or may not be a theme throughout this post.
That being said, welcome to: “Without Facebook”.
Have you ever noticed that we live in two worlds at the same time?
There’s the default world. It’s the one where we wake up in the morning, slowly open our eyes, and then slam them shut as soon as they’re exposed to bright lights.
Then there’s that other world. It’s the one that doesn’t exist unless we look at a screen. That one seems friendlier – you can adjust the brightness.
I didn’t join Facebook until after I graduated high school, which means I was probably a little naive to a lot of the stuff going on around me at the time.
My mild naiveté was confirmed many years later when my sister got me into teen dramas like The OC and One Tree Hill, where I got to see the other side of the high school experience.
My eight years on Facebook were fine. I’m not going to sit here and act like I didn’t enjoy it, or that I didn’t look forward to creating status updates that would generate “likes” or “comments”.
In fact, Facebook was probably a stepping stone to me starting this blog because that’s when I realized how much fun it is to play with words and there was an audience for my antics.
Now, you can call it being a contrarian, being unique, or a life motto, but I hate doing what other people are doing. At the same time, I think I have the ability to say what everyone else is thinking, without being offensive.
Within that credence, I found my personality and my voice, and I put it on display on Facebook.
I distinctly remember one day when BBM was down on BlackBerry – such simpler times – and there were at least five Facebook statuses complaining about BBM being down, as if it was the end of the world.
And I’m sitting there with my BlackBerry thinking, “They can still send regular text messages to every person on their BBM list, why is this a national crisis?”
So I put up a status about it, where I basically said, “Calm down, shut up, and (something about being thankful)” because this was just days after Thanksgiving.
Immediately, I got support and the almighty “Preach!” comment. And I’m thinking, if everyone agrees with me, why am I the first to say something?
Are we all just tip-toeing around statuses we don’t agree with and making comments in our head, that help us form an updated opinion of our “friend” every time they share something?
I guess so. But that’s Facebook. That’s social media.
Social media is a house built on communication, but our silence pays the rent.
Have you ever thought about that? As we scroll, our minds jump from one status, or photo, to the next in a split second and a new thought appears in our head, linking the content to a person.
It’s not like reading a book where every word builds on the last and an image is developed in our mind. Social media forces us to hop all over the place, like we’re on a trampoline at a 7-year-old’s birthday party.
That’s a lot of hopping. Anyone need a chuck bucket?
I always appreciated the people who would share something funny in their status because that’s what I tried to do most of the time. If you’re going to be the voice in someone’s head, you might as well be a funny voice, right?
We’re all throwing darts of information into someone else’s head, every time we post something. So why not throw a dart of positivity, or truth, or humour, or vulnerability, or something we’re passionate about?
Instead, we have people leaving inappropriate comments all over the place, or using the latest trendy responses like, “Weird flex but ok”. Those four words are so sad.
I guarantee we all come across at least one moron on social media every single day.
My friends, it isn’t that hard. The beauty of typing words is that you can delete them before sending. You can censor yourself. You can, dare I say, EDIT.
We don’t need an edit button on Twitter, we just need competent people who take four seconds to proofread. There, I said it.
Back to Facebook, before I get carried away.
Somewhere along the way, I realized I no longer cared about every single one of my 373 Facebook friends. I mean, I wish everyone well – health and happiness and all that.
But what’s the long-term plan here? Am I supposed to eavesdrop on your life forever? Am I supposed to be really careful not to hit the like button on your status because we haven’t talked in five years and seeing a notification from me would be weird?
What are we doing here?
It’s just a game of Duck, Duck, Goose where no one ever calls, “Goose”.
For so long, I felt guilty about unfriending anyone, so I wouldn’t. A couple of people would unfriend me and I’d always want to know why. What did I do? We sat near each other in our seminar class, once a week for 50 minutes for 12 weeks, did that mean nothing to you?
Sounds silly, right? It was supposed to.
I finally went on a mass unfriending spree a few months before deactivating my account. I cut my friend list down to about 150, which was still way too many but I started to feel guilty about the whole thing and didn’t want people to think they did something wrong should they realize I unfriended them.
There’s that overthinking again.
Multiple things contributed to my decision to deactivate Facebook. You probably expect me to list them, but I’m not going to.
As a whole, my reason for leaving can be summed up with a simple, “I was tired of it.”
My one regret is I didn’t save any of my photos, which means if I want them, I have to reactivate my account and save them one at a time before anyone realizes my account is back up. That’s probably a solo mission in the middle of the night.
Overthinking for $600, Alex.
Will I ever go back to Facebook? Maybe, someday. I don’t really miss it, though. I deleted it off my phone and don’t think about it.
When you have Facebook, it’s almost an instinct to check it every time you pick up your phone. But if it’s not on your phone, you can’t check it and that instinct fades away.
I don’t like having too many apps – I’m at a whopping three: Instagram, WordPress, and Twitter. What are you supposed to do with more than that?
Instagram is where I post the same type of photos every year and hope no one notices. The bloggers who I have let into that world probably just rushed over to see what I’m talking about.
WordPress is where I make every blog post way too long, but don’t care.
Twitter is my favourite.
Here’s the thing with Twitter. I had a personal account for six years until I started one for this blog last year. Since I did that, I haven’t tweeted anything on my personal one because it’s way more fun interacting with people I’ve never met than it is being followed by people I no longer talk to.
My old Twitter account felt too much like Facebook – a group of people I don’t really know anymore, but are there to read my every thought. That feels awkward to me.
At the start of this year, I told myself I’d only tweet and retweet things that made me happy. That’s a pretty broad banner because sometimes I just tweet out random dreams I have, or complaints about the NHL’s ridiculous playoff format.
Somebody hold me back.
It’s so easy to share negative thoughts – my goal was to do the opposite and hopefully give people a break from some of the sewage they scroll through.
So with Instagram, WordPress, and Twitter filling my needs, Facebook felt redundant.
I was also getting uncomfortable with how a private account felt so public. Why does my reply to someone’s post on my wall need to be publicized on all of my friends’ news feed?
If you’ve ever thought about deactivating your Facebook account, I say give it a try. If you miss it too much, all you have to do is sign in and your account is back. They make it really easy for you to return.
They also try and make it hard for you to leave.
No joke, in a last ditch attempt to persuade you to stay, Facebook lists the names of a few of your friends and says they will miss you if you decide to deactivate.
I’ve gone on long enough. I’ll end with this:
Social media is a referendum on your decency as a human being. Don’t be an idiot, people will know.
“You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.”
Have you ever thought about leaving Facebook? What annoys you about social media? Which social media platform is your favourite and why?
Questions, Comments, Concerns?