I learnt some interesting things during the process of leaving Facebook after 6 years of committed status updates.
Status updates are a record of your life
Those 6 years of updates are, on reflection, the best journal I have ever written. Unlike my private journal which tends to be mostly full of emotional angst and an ongoing analysis of my lifestyle, my facebook updates are a marker of events, comments, places visited, things people have said, funny things that have happened, and amazingly, many of my children’s firsts and lots of their little behaviour patterns that inevitably disappear as they grow older.
Reviewing everything I had written took me on a really meaningful journey back through my past, with lots of things to smile at and lots of moments that would otherwise have been forgotten. It is a priceless record.
After seeing how amazing it is to record data in this format (what I am doing in life, rather than writing pages about how I am feeling), I searched around for something I could use as a kind of private facebook, to continue recording things in the same way.
I had looked at Day One (for Mac and iOS) many times in the past, but wasn’t convinced I would use it, but now I had a job that it could do perfectly.
I downloaded it and have started writing the equivalent of status updates to myself. Whenever I would have shared something on facebook, I share it with Day One instead, knowing that over time I am building a wonderful record of what we are all up to. As it’s private I can also share things that I maybe wouldn’t have shared with my family and friends, and I can be truly honest without fear of judgement.
It has changed the way I view journaling, and it’s something that I wouldn’t have even noticed had I not exported all my data from facebook as part of quitting.
People are afraid to leave facebook
Every time I have seen someone for the first time since I quit, one of the first questions they ask is:
What’s all this about quitting facebook?!
So then I proceed to give them a handful of my reasons (I have lots, so I rotate them round, heh).
The most incredible thing is that every single person I have had this conversation with goes through the following steps:
- They nod in agreement with all my reasons for leaving.
- They provide several more reasons of their own why they don’t like facebook any more.
- Then they tell me why they can’t leave Facebook.
It’s been a fascinating insight into just how powerful the lure of social networking has become, with many people stating that they would feel like they are missing out if they couldn’t see X’s status updates.
So here’s a message for anyone who thinks they might miss out:
You won’t 🙂
People are not their status updates
I went to visit some old friends a week after leaving facebook and saw several people that I only get to see a couple of times a year. I had had a lot of contact with them on facebook and had seen dozens of photos of their families.
But what struck me was that despite seeing their photos, updates and all the things they were doing online, it was only by talking to them that I got an understanding of what they were really doing in life and how they were feeling generally. Whether they were stressed, tired, happy, busy, or just content, wasn’t possible to guage from their updates.
By talking to them in person I got a real feeling for their wellbeing.
And their wellbeing is what I care about, as they are among my oldest friends.
So maybe the biggest lesson I learnt is that snapshot statuses of even my closest friends are not who they are in real life.
And while facebook gives the illusion of friendship, I believe one-on-one communication is better, whether through email, by text or by phone. And the best communication of all comes from real, physical interaction. And spending time talking to the people you love and care about is the best way of maintaining friendships there is 🙂
Read the final instalment: Part 4 – Life after Facebook.