leaving facebook

everything from old ipad 972

Sea turtle rescues on video, lengthy political rants and daily selfies. Multiple captures of tasty food and romantic moments. 25 versions of outrage about an appalling news item. It is time to turn down the volume.

For a couple of months I have rehearsed the idea of stepping away from Facebook. After seven years of being able to peer at the veneer of people’s lives, I thought it was time to analyze the purpose of this digital connection. This exploration has inspired me to converse with people who use it regularly, and a few who have either deleted their profile or were never on Facebook.

After telling a good friend about my plan, he replied, “Oh, going back to normalcy.” We then reminded ourselves of what it was like back in the days before social media, and even before email. (Yes we are old enough to remember this.) Social time was allocated between close individuals and then remaining interaction would happen with colleagues after work or with teammates after a game. And then, unless you received a phone call or a letter, you caught up with people the next time you met.

So what is the value of being on Facebook?  Looking at the newsfeed of my connections, I see an easy way for family to stay in touch with each other around the world. My actor friends can invite each other to their shows. I detect that some folks who feel isolated may consider Facebook a lifeline. Some companies build a business page for sharing their products and like-minded people support each other in various groups.

There is also a lot of ‘stuff’ on Facebook that can be distracting. A colleague suggested to just limit the time on Facebook and I have, although with less time logged in, I discover that I do not have a particular need to go there. This prompted me to take a look at my activity and study my use of the interface. It has been neat posting topics that have stimulated lengthy conversations. And the pictures of events are fun to look at! Not surprising for this minimalist, however, I started to delete my albums.

Just as I would when decluttering a house, I paused to honour these photo memories; past performances, civic duties accomplished and glamorous events I attended. There were plenty of posts titled, “Minimalist Jo strikes again!” featuring clothing, housewares and sports equipment to give away. And there is the reminder of darling people who have passed away, their images alive on Facebook. Summed up, all are memories of a previous life that I will never forget. But this is an invitation to move on. I am a different person now.

I slowly removed about 300 friends, from high school mates who found me over the years to former colleagues, many who do not respond to my comments or even participate at all on Facebook. The 235 I have left I can say I actually currently know! And they are all so fantastic. But the stream of chatter is taking up mental space. Time is finite; as I pare down and slow down in life, disconnecting from Facebook just makes sense to me.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the months to come. Will I experience FOMO? (“Fear Of Missing Out” is actually a thing!) I expect I will not hear about some invites, as the people who are not on Facebook have reported to me.   I will only have time to truly connect with good friends, closer acquaintances and a few fun colleagues throughout the year. Others are relegated to party or on the street happenstance. But it will be such a unique pleasure to reconnect when we do.

I see lots of my Facebook folks on Twitter and Instagram, although by design the interaction there is brief and less personal. The short and sweet nature appeals to my minimalist tendencies! And although I love taking pictures, I have been experimenting with reducing the constant documentation of my life. something about just letting the experience flow through me, allowing just my mind and body to keep what it wants.

Deleting this simple digital interface has prompted such consideration! What kind of hold does Facebook have over me? None of course, but as a minimalist I consciously curate what is in my life so this exploration is part of that process. I acknowledge that for me the constant awareness of the lives of others does not equate connection. With the removal of Facebook, I hope to steal back a few minutes each day to be present in the moment of living my daily life and that includes direct contact with some amazing people.

I would love to hear from you. Why do you (or perhaps do not) use Facebook?
If you are curious to know what it would be like to live without Facebook, log off for one month and  tell me about your experience!

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25 thoughts on “leaving facebook

  1. This recently past Christmas was one of the harder ones for reasons I really could not identify. What did become abundantly clear is that something has to change in my life. What you stated about the chatter…just…all of it. I may well be placing myself in league with the dinosaurs, but it’s time to be honest and examine this sneaking suspicion that I was not born for this type of environment. No big deal. Creatures go extinct all the time. If I force myself to extinction in this process, so be it.

    I look forward to following your journey, as time permits.

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    • Hello!
      Thank you for your comment.

      I assume your reference to going extinct is about not being in the Facebook universe, correct?

      The key reason why I use minimalism ‘as the lens through which to view my life’ is to see my truth.

      The first step in minimalism is to declutter (get rid of ‘noise’) yet the most important part is to look at what is left – who am I and what am I doing?

      That empty space then needs to be filled. Experience life in a way that is deeply satisfying. Design it and do it.

      No Facebook. Then what?
      🙂

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  2. Hi Jo,

    Great thoughts on FB and disconnecting from it. It’s a constant back and forth with me. I see the utility of it for business, if used efficiently. I also recognize that a lot of time can be wasted scrolling down bottomless rabbit holes for that next interesting status update that will change my life as I know it. I have no problem leaving the platform for weeks at a time; I have no fb app on my phone to remind me every few minutes of some crucial event or invitation that I’m missing. Managing the inbox clutter is challenging enough without the omnipresence of all the social media distractions.

    I am grateful we have such incredible technologies like fb to connect with long-lost friends or distant relatives and at the same time, I believe in being present as the actor and observer of my own life, without feeling the need to ‘log in’ to find out what I missed in other people’s lives. After leaving fb for long periods (with no grand design, I just forgot to sign in), I have never found that I missed something significant in my absence. Any important news or relevant item within my circle found its way to me the ‘old fashioned way’, through email or text 🙂 – and the occasional phone call or face-to-face. Never missed a beat, that I know of.

    Best of luck to you in this new chapter, with a little less technology, a lot more free time and, all in all… a more peaceful home 😉

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    • Thanks Billy for your reflections on this topic. You point to the essential assessment of worth – finding that balance of enough need to make being on Facebook worthwhile. The key is taking a moment to determine this. And, as you say, when it is deemed worthwhile to be on it, then management is the key. Turning off notifications, not having the app are great strategies!
      I have so much to do that I’m sure I could fill in any discovered free time, haha! But I am doing my best to allow for peaceful moments so I look forward to a bit less app-tapping in the morning/late at night ;-p

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  3. I did this in 2009. I gave it up for lent: I believe; http://fragileheart.com/living-without-facebook-a-log/. Back then, the one thing I found difficult was remembering when an event was or even getting invited to events. Mind you, most events I get invited to these days are ones where I have to pay to attend, and I never go to those…

    I also use Facebook to get a lot of my work, so I’m not sure that I should leave just yet. Perhaps when the winter hits and work isn’t as busy. I too would really love to dial everything back and revel in more quiet. I’ll miss seeing your posts on Facebook, but I’ll always enjoying seeing you IRL😉

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  4. Such a thoughtful decision. Enjoy your time away. I still very much enjoy Facebook, and I don’t foresee that changing soon. I use it for both personal and business and so far it hasn’t taken over. Like some of the earlier commenters I, too, curate and delete as much as I feel is necessary to make the experience what I want it to be. Looking forward to seeing you in the real world:)

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    • Yes to the real world! However, I admit to thinking of keeping my profile open so I can use the resources on our POC group page. (Professional Organizers in Canada, for those who are curious!) Same goes for a group I created for personal coaches. Neither demand my attention and, without a newsfeed/friends attached, I could easily ignore it, logging in only when I need some information. And even then… (thinking, thinking…;-p)

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  5. I don’t think I could give it up. I love seeing photos of my grandchildren as well as other family members and friends, and it’s one of my best marketing tools. I’ve got it so that only people who truly interest me show up in my feed, and I’m trying to discipline myself to get off as soon as I’ve done what I logged in to do.

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  6. Fascinating, and Bravo Jo!
    Loved reading this post, and definitely looking forward to maintaining contact with you elsewhere.
    One brief comment about my own fb use: I am still at the highly addicted stage and do not yet feel a need to withdraw.
    HOWEVER-I DO edit my feed on a daily basis. I am ruthless with the “hide post” feature.
    Feels like decluttering.
    I weed out whatever upsets my Wa, and I focus on what I can and want to change.
    A+
    Alison

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  7. A day will come when the political “necessity” of Facebook, Twitter, websites and more will become less necessary and I, or my heirs, will painstakingly delete much of everything from my profiles. However, if I still draw breath, I think that family and perhaps grandchildren will mean engagement in the latest, greatest form of constant, near social communication. For example, I don’t like Skype, but it may be the future. Who knew you’d have to put a shirt on to answer the phone. But well done, Jo. I will still think of you often.

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    • Shirtless skyping – the new craze 😀
      Yes, online communication is likely the best way to interact with young folk.
      I am at a stage where I want to encourage a bit of solitude in my very active life. I notice as I get older that I prefer smaller gatherings than parties. Personal contact without shouting ;-p I guess I am leaving the Facebook ‘party’ and I look forward to direct interaction. This can be via email or text, as well as the other social media platforms I mentioned…I do love technology. I’m just finding ways to navigate the traffic. xo

      Like

  8. Great points! I use facebook as a source to share my blog – it’s another outlet for working with brands and connecting to readers. It’s a great 5 minute distraction between editing photos. Sometimes staring at the same picture can get tedious and I have to stop, walk around, look out the window, and look at something different on a screen before I get back to it.
    And finally, it’s really really great for connecting, keeping up with, and chatting to my family in the UK and Poland. Makes the constant distance a bit easier.

    But yes, it’s not a place to go when you’re down as the currated highlight reel can make you feel even worse.

    Hope to catch up with you soon over tea 🙂

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  9. Laura Biddle says:

    I am so inspired Jo!
    I’ve most definitely thought about leaving it behind permanently. And for all of the same reasons you write of here.

    I find that I have a tendency to disassociate from my body and my surroundings, and I use my phone and social media to do so. It’s a pattern, a habit, that I am not fond of or proud of. Most especially as it “checks me out” of being in the moment. I’m at home with my children at this point in their lives, and I am desiring to really be present all of the time.

    The downfall to giving up Facebook is that I use it as a means to publicize blog posts and my work on my website. If I didn’t have that “reason” I think I would find it quite a bit easier to walk.

    I’ve given it up for six months in the past (pre-website and blog) and found it to be liberating. The FOMO was real for maybe the first two weeks, but after that I was able to surrender that fear over.

    The constant fear and anger on my newsfeed is draining– I have a tendency to
    “feel” the energy. Perhaps I can re-visit the idea of other ways of blog publicity. I feel re-inspired by your share!!

    Like

    • Laura! How lovely to see you.
      ‘Disassociate from my body and surroundings’ – that is neat. Well, ‘checking out’ is what we want when watching tv etc. A way to get lost in another/others world. But as you say, you feel drained by it sometimes. It is a different experience for everyone, hence why I do not condemn the use of Facebook. The invitation here is to take a look at what we do and why and determine our thresholds and find balance.

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