Good afternoon (or morning, or evening) all!
It has now been over three weeks since I deleted my Facebook account, and I have definitely observed some interesting things that I had not experienced the last two times I deleted my account. There have been some positives, as well as some things that made me turn my head sideways.
I thought I would share my observations with y’all…
1. Facebook is not inherently bad.
What struck me right away, was that people were very eager to give advice for staying on Facebook. “Unfollow people,” was the advice that I heard the most. Nobody seemed to understand that when I unfollowed every person who wrote something that was not beneficial for me to engage with, I would end up mainly interacting with people I see everyday. And that I had never succeeded in making Facebook a joy in my life. At the most, it was a manageable cesspit, with a few bright spots from my yoga friends (whom I see 5 days a week), and my co-workers (whom I spent most of my day with, 5 days a week).
Then I realized that I was being equally as pushy. Facebook is not a cesspit for everyone. That was my experience. I share it, because maybe it was somebody else’s as well. There are people who honestly enjoy keeping in touch with distant relatives and old friends that way. There is a lot of opportunity for sharing ideas over social media. It’s not inherently bad. It was just a bad experience for me, and I am choosing not to use it anymore.
2. It has led me to rethink my other technology-using habits.
The first time that I quit Facebook, I moved quickly to fill in the void it left. I became e-mail penpals with a large number of former Facebook friends, as well as with other bloggers. This was fun, and I have kept in touch with a few of the people I corresponded with during that time.
However, back then I was writing everyone back daily, in lengthy emails rather than quick Facebook comments. I actually spent more time on my computer than I did, back when I had Facebook. I also noticed similar patterns happening in some of my correspondences. I was getting obsessed with getting a reply and seeking approval.
The second time I quit, I was already texting people like crazy. I would have long chats with friends, and a few of them were actually people I didn’t see everyday. When I went shopping and fit into a new pants size, I took a picture of the tag. Instead of posting it to Facebook, I texted it to all of my friends. Mercifully, they humored me.
My texting habits continued as I rejoined Facebook, and soon I was constantly having Messenger chats as well. I had kind of backed off before the pandemic, but during isolation I was checking my phone every 5 minutes. I was impatient if people didn’t reply and often assumed they were mad at me.
Some of the incidents that led to me choosing to leave Facebook this third time, were related to Messenger and message conversations. I did a lot of texting when I was getting my Messenger friends set up as phone contacts, but after that, I was really not feeling it.
After all of the negative text interactions I had at the end of my Facebook days, I have become much more mindful about my texting habits. Before I send something, I ask myself if it is necessary. Minute daily observations can wait until I see the person in real life.
3. Life off of Facebook is a lot less political
I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in “real life,” and I have no idea how most of them voted in the last election. We discuss ideas and values, but we really don’t care who voted for whom.
I have one friend who voted differently than I did in the last election, and we agree 100% on every issue we have discussed. Our only disagreement was in which candidate would fit the best with our thoughts on the issues.
On Facebook, it is almost of gang war. People choose one camp, and then are ruthless with those who disagree with every opinion of the camp. I faced more ridicule from people who voted the same way I did in the last election, because I didn’t tow the line 100%.
On Facebook, I said that I had a hard time with the shutdown back in March. People kept their distance, saying that it was okay if I had a different opinion. This was not a political discussion. This was my own personal experience and my own emotions. I mentioned this at my last Weight Watcher’s meeting, and the girl next to me said, “Well, of course it was hard! It was hard for everyone!” And everyone else agreed. Politics didn’t even come up.
There is a reason we have secret ballots. Let’s forget about WHO is right, and keep the discussion focused on WHAT is right.
4. The focus is on similarities, not differences.
Not only do politics come up a lot less, but interactions away from Facebook focus more on similarities. At work, we are all working toward the common goal of helping our students learn, grow, and navigate through a crazy time. We are all trying to figure out the best way to reach everyone, and our focus is on what we do.
Sure, current events might come up in passing, but they are not the main focus of anything.
It is the same at yoga and at Weight Watchers. We are focused on the path that we are on, even if we have different ideas and life experiences. We aren’t there to judge one another or to argue.
5. I listen to my inner voice more.
With Facebook–and social media in general–we all have a panel of experts to consult about every minor decision we have to make. Not sure whether to cook burgers or spaghetti? Make a Facebook poll. Can’t decide between the green dress or the pink one? Ask your Facebook friends.
The problem is that I began to ignore my gut instinct and present every dilemma to my friends online. Not sure how to apologize (or whether I needed to)? Ask an online friend. Having a misunderstanding with a friend? Ask the strangers in my Facebook group.
This led to a lot of bad advice. Which should not come as a surprise, since these people were not living in the situation. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that majority rules, or even that other people just know better because they are other people.
Since leaving Facebook, I have been making my own decisions. I have solved interpersonal problems on my own. I have chosen my own outfits! I have made decisions about my job and my career. I have reclaimed my place as the expert on my own life.
I know social media is different for everyone, but I also know that I have had a lot of positive experiences leaving it this time! I don’t see myself creating a new account anytime in the near future.