Why breaking up with Facebook for a year was the best decision I ever made
Deciding to delete your Facebook is a big move. It takes guts and a whole lot of self-control. Some people can practice self-control on their own and not get addicted. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those people. I couldn’t just use Facebook once a week or once a day. I needed to be on it all the time. At first, deleting your Facebook can feel like spontaneously deciding to move to a foreign country with no communication to the outside world. It can feel isolating and lonely. But then something magical happens. You get your real life back.
I was obsessed with Facebook. It felt almost as necessary as having a cell phone or a social security number, and I checked it over 10 times a day. Did you know that Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day on a computer and an average of 16 hours a week on Facebook? This means that I was spending the equivalent of two whole nights of sleep per week on Facebook.
I wanted to delete my account because I had become addicted to my online image. Every time I took a photo, I would analyze whether or not it qualified as a profile picture. I would check my account throughout the day just to see how many likes my post got. I would compare my picture to others and before I knew it, Facebook became a place where I needed to receive constant validation. I also spent way too much time thinking about people’s lives that I did not interact with anymore. All of the sudden I was following Katie and David’s engagement from high school and noticing that Tommy ate pizza for breakfast every morning. My brain started racking up unimportant facts about people and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to clear my head of the chatter and gossip.
When I actually got up the courage to delete my account, it was harder than I imagined. Once you tell Facebook you want to say goodbye, it shows you pictures of all your friends and says, “Are you sure you want to lose touch with all of these people?” Can you believe that?! They try to guilt trip you into staying. But I took a deep breath and deleted it anyway.
Here’s what happened:
Within the first week, I noticed that all the chatter in my head disappeared. I began to feel more at ease and more present with what I was doing. Because I couldn’t be connected to Facebook 24 hours a day, I started using my time more wisely and doing activities that I actually wanted to do. By the second week, I felt my self-esteem rising. I no longer felt the need to impress others with my pictures or make sure each move I made was ‘liked’. I began to feel wholeness and compassion towards myself. I also began deepening my relationship with others. When I wanted to check in with someone, I would call them and hear their voice or make a date to meet for a meal. I began focusing my attention on the people who mattered most to me and saw them in person more often. By week three, I was relieved and happy that Facebook was out of my life for good.
So here is my advice to you:
Make a conscious effort to see in person the people you care about. Instead of commenting on people’s online pictures, try calling them to catch up so you can hear the tone of their voice and let them tell you how they are doing. We tend to assume how someone is doing is based on Facebook but we are really only seeing certain aspects of their life.
Also, try deleting your Facebook account for just one week and see how you feel. If you are worried about losing your information, don’t worry- all of your posts and pictures will be saved for you when you return. But if you try it, you just might find that you get more back than you thought. You might just get your life back.