It’s been more than a month since I deleted my Facebook account. I’d love to tell you that taking this step completely changed my life and made me a better person, but it hasn’t. I’m still the same old me, albeit a lighter and less-stressed version.
What I did might seem novel, extreme, or even downright weird to many people, and I don’t really expect everybody to understand. With the constant connectedness that has become normal in today’s digital age, wanting to unplug can come across as strange and even rude. After all, why would you cut the lifeline that connects you to your friends and family? Why would you want to stop looking at pictures and videos of your loved ones?
In my case, though, quitting Facebook was the most logical step to take because it allowed me to:
1. Avoid relying on others for self-esteem
If you don’t get an ego boost from having numerous Likes, Shares, and Comments, I applaud you. You have a healthy self-esteem, which I unfortunately don’t have. I enjoyed the rush that came from posting a status or photo that my friends liked and commented on. In fact, I enjoyed it too much that I was constantly thinking of how I could duplicate the experience and come up with another well-liked and well-commented post. I also became sad when my posts didn’t garner as much attention as I wanted.
These might seem normal reactions. After all, isn’t that why most people are on social media — to create content that would make our friends and family smile or laugh? But I have come to realise that I don’t like it. I don’t want my self-esteem to fluctuate based on the number of Facebook likes and comments I got. I don’t want my happiness to be based on the popularity of my Facebook posts. It’s time to look into myself and find happiness and confidence from within me.
2. Escape FOMO
You’ve probably heard of the Fear of Missing Out or FOMO. Hundreds of articles have already been written about this topic, and I’m here to tell you that FOMO is real. You may feel it, too, when you scroll through the fabulous OOTDs or breathtaking holiday photos of your friends and you look at your life and wonder why you’re not enjoying the same things.
FOMO can be great in small doses because it forces you to assess the way you live, determine what you want to change in your life, and take steps to improve your existence as a whole. But, when you’re exposed to FOMO every single day, it can make you sad and even depressed because you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people. You begin to hate yourself and your life because you’re missing out on a lot of things. You begin to forget that most of the things posted on social media are well-curated and that what you’re seeing are only little perfect snapshots into your friends’ imperfect lives.
So I try to stay away from FOMO as much as possible. I’m not trying to escape the fact that my life kind of sucks compared to my friends, former classmates, and old co-workers who are having the time of their lives. But I want to fix my life at my own pace. I want to fix my life because I want to, not because I feel like I have to because So-and-So are taking a Europe trip/going to Disneyland/buying a condominium unit and I’m not.
3. Create relationships in the real world
Facebook is great for finding your old friends, classmates, and colleagues and catching up with each other. But how many of these digital catch-ups have turned into real-world meetings? If you’re like me, the answer is probably “Zero”.
It’s easy to touch-base with other people on Facebook and think you’re doing enough to keep friendships alive. But remember: nothing can really replace face-to-face meetings with your friends. If you find yourself relying on Facebook to make new friends and maintain the old ones, it’s time to re-think your strategy.
4. Tune out online negativity
Here’s the thing: everyone has the right to post whatever they want on their Facebook accounts. If you want to complain about a restaurant’s poor service, you can. If you want to rant and rave about the bad day you’re having, you can. If you want to throw shade at another person’s outfit or love life, you can.
This doesn’t mean that other people will love reading what you have to say, though.
I don’t want to stop people from posting whatever they want on Facebook because it’s their choice. But I also have to make my own choice: get sucked in by other people’s negativity, or surround myself with positivity.
I choose the latter.
5. Avoid annoying people with my own negativity
Negativity is a two-way street. I’m only human, so I’m also prone to posting senseless drivel on Facebook — without realising that I’m annoying those who read my posts. It might seem like a natural part of being on Facebook, but I realised that I wasn’t giving any value to anyone through my status updates. I was only unloading my fears, anger, and disappointment on my friends, who’d have to suffer the torment of reading my posts on their news feed.
So I’ve resolved to stop doing so. If I have anything valuable to share, I’d write about it here in my blog. If I just wanted to complain, I’d keep it to myself.
6. Have more control over my time
Have you ever promised yourself that you’d just peek at Facebook for two minutes, but you end up scrolling through your news feed for two hours?
A few months before I completely quit Facebook, I experimented with not opening my FB account for weeks, but I always felt the urge to log in to see if anybody had sent me any private messages. I guess I’m a stickler for staying on top of messages; I always read my e-mails first thing in the morning (so I have zero unread emails), and I can’t stand not knowing if anyone has sent me a message or not. This trait does help me stay on top of things, but it also caused me to waste my time because I’d always get sidetracked with the temptations on my Facebook news feed. As a result, I became less productive and usually worked until 3:00 A.M. just to keep up with deadlines.
So I decided to quit Facebook. Now that they can’t reach me through FB, my friends have no choice but to text me or send me an email. This hits two birds with one stone: my friends know they can always reach me since my phone and email are always on, while I no longer have to open Facebook (and face its time-consuming temptations) just to check for private messages. I’ve also noticed that exchanging e-mails with my friends leads to deeper and more thoughtful conversations. This usually didn’t happen with our Facebook chats, which usually were harried as if we were just stopping to yell “Hi! Bye!” to each other.
So that’s it. These are the reasons why I deleted my Facebook account. I’d like to point out, though, that I’m not completely Facebook-free since I’ve created a new FB account. It might sound contradictory to everything I’ve mentioned above, but I’ve found out that there are really times when I need to be on Facebook. In my case, I use my new account to get news and updates from The Minimalists, from my favourite charity Island Rescue Organization, and from our utilities providers (which post updates about upcoming blackouts and water service interruptions). I haven’t added any friends to this new account, though, so I’m still able to have more control over my time, focus on my real-world relationships, and keep negativity at a minimum.
Quitting Facebook isn’t for everybody. If Facebook isn’t your only source of self-esteem, and if it isn’t messing with your schedule and making you feel FOMO, there’s no reason to give it up. But, if you want to simplify your life, you might want to experiment with quitting Facebook for a short amount of time, like a week or two. Who knows? You might discover that you don’t really need it and that giving it up allows you to have more time for more meaningful things.