The first time I went back to my news feed after unfriending everybody (I logged in to check for final messages), I was stunned.
Suddenly it hit me in full force – I actually had no way of knowing what anybody was up to unless:
a) I texted/emailed/called and asked (a bit odd), or
b) I suffered the humiliation of admitting I was returning only 48 hours after announcing my intention to leave.
But actually, later that day I noticed a new feeling settle in. It was… relaxation.
I couldn’t find out what was going on. So I didn’t need to. And suddenly everything seemed much easier and freer and I realised that I might actually start looking forward to meeting up with people more. As I said in lessons learnt, meeting people in real life gives you a much truer picture of who they really are.
Two Months Later
The funniest thing about walking away from facebook was that as part of quitting I exchanged contact details with a lot of people that I only spoke to via the site, but I haven’t contacted any of them (and they haven’t contacted me) since.
I fully believed I would keep in touch with them. They were all geographically distant friends from the past that I had reconnected with, but as soon as facebook was out of my life, they literally faded back into the past.
And I realised that actually, that was really where they belonged.
On the other hand, I have had more contact with other friends – it is almost as though facebook was a poor substitute that was hindering the emails, texts and even letters – yes handwritten letters – that mean so much more than just status updates, likes and comments.
Basically, my social relationships feel more meaningful now.
Facebook and Happiness
One of the reasons I wanted to leave facebook, was the fact that you inevitably end up comparing your real life to everyone else’s edited highlights.
I can completely understand why this is the case – seeing the fun, exciting, entertaining, non-stop activity from a large news feed is obviously going to make your own life seem quiet and mundane on multiple occasions. Every time you log in, someone, somewhere has done something exciting while you’ve just been watching TV or cleaning the bath.
I don’t think it is healthy to frame your own existence in the same light as the 75+ new status updates that have appeared since you last checked your feed.
A few times now I have been out with a group friends and had a conversation that goes a little like this:
I thought that picture was so cute/funny/awful that Edith posted. Oh you’re not on Facebook are you Faye? Here take a look… (smart phone appears).
Or like this:
Did you read about Delilah’s nightmare with her doctor? Oh you’re not on facebook are you – let me tell you the story… (big discussion follows).
So I guess I’m not missing out. Or if I am, it’s only by being late to hear the news. Something I’m quite happy with. People do love to tell a story and I am now an even more willing audience 🙂
The other thing I have noticed is the lack of pressure to like, comment, support, enthuse and applaud other people ALL THE TIME.
If you have close friends on facebook (and I have done this myself), you might feel a bit put out, or worried, that they haven’t commented on your latest status announcement that’s been up for 24 hours.
24 hours!! Where are they? Do they not approve?? Don’t they CARE?!?
If you’re not on facebook at all, no one gets offended that you don’t adore their new kitten the second they get it, agree that their landlord is an arse in the middle of a deposit-dispute, or congratulate them on their niece’s friend’s mum’s new painting sale.
Happy them, happy you.
I’ve probably gone on about leaving facebook enough now – enough to bore you all to tears and incite stories of missing people being reunited and old sweethearts finding each other and getting married.
No, it’s not all bad.
No, I don’t think you should quit.
Not unless you want to 😉
I was surprised that in the end, after 6 years, facebook disappeared from my life silently – within 24 hours I wasn’t even thinking about it any more.
For all my fears – of whether I would be lonely, have to go back, miss out on things, whatever – none of it happened.
For me, life is better without it.