Playful Seattle Families
What I’ve Learned Since Leaving Facebook

What I’ve Learned Since Leaving Facebook

There was never a plan to remove myself from Facebook. I had never considered deactivating my account and disappearing from the world. (Though I had been trying to ‘scale back’ my involvement.) I have been in lots of heated debates on Facebook over the years and loved having the opportunity to share information with large numbers of people. I have gained many new friends through the intactivist, breastfeeding, and unschooling communities. As a ‘SAHM,’ Facebook was my lifeline – I could be connected to anyone – and everyone – ALL the time.

Now that I’ve had some time away from Facebook, I will share with you what I have observed and learned since being away for over four months. Some of these you’ve probably already noticed whether you’re still on Facebook or have never even opened an account. Here it goes:

1. You do not have 859 Friends. Your friends are the people who call, text, Skype, Facetime, and check in (however randomly). Even if you’re in 20 private groups with the same people, it doesn’t mean you’re actually friends. If they don’t bother to connect with you outside of Facebook, they are nothing more than friends of convenience.

2. Facebook produces anxiety. I knew this before, but it was pronounced once I deactivated. From adhering to the ever-changing online social etiquette to the non-stop parade of depressing and disturbing information and images (especially for those of us who are easily affected), we can’t help but become more anxious.

3. Facebook wastes precious time. Time we will never regain just scrolling and scrolling and ‘liking’ and even commenting on even the most mundane posts. Sometimes people just ‘like’ a post to acknowledge they’ve read it or because they are trying to be nice, or even because they may feel guilty for an earlier online debate. Sometimes we even ‘like’ posts just because we hope they will reciprocate or because that’s exactly what we’re doing. But we do it. Over and over and over again – ALL. DAY. LONG.

4. Facebook kills creativity. Yes, it does. Now, instead of reaching for my phone (which had better have at least 75% battery life because there’s no telling how long I’d be on there!), I can reach for a project to keep my hands busy or mind occupied. I can start something new or even finish up something that I’ve been ‘too busy’ to complete.

5. Facebook kept me better connected to strangers than the people right in front of me. Ouch! That’s a hard one to admit. The truth is that I was buried in my phone long after my husband and daughter had given up calling for me. I convinced myself that I was solving problems or helping people – my friends (I had a lot of them, you see – everyone needed my help!). And I’m sure that I did. But it usually usurped my family’s needs.

6. Unlike receiving an email, the pressure is ON to respond to Facebook messages. There’s no escaping it. Your friends can see when you were last active. They can see when you’ve read their message. And then they wait and wait and wait for you to respond. So you’re a jerk for not even opening up the message (which doesn’t really foil the sender) or you’re a jerk for not responding in a ‘timely-manner’ – even to just answer a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question.

7. There’s pressure to support everyone’s causes, blogs, businesses, and bands. I can’t even count how many ‘sign this petition’ posts people have slapped up on my wall. Everyone has something they want to promote or sell – myself included – there is no end!

8. People expect you to be on Facebook. Nothing made this more clear than my own inactive Facebook-user mom ask, ‘When do you think you’ll return to Facebook?’

9. You’re not really missing out. Inside-joke memes, your friends’ children being sick (for the 18th time this year), your relative’s intolerance for anyone different than himself, people asking questions they could easily google. Nope, not missing out on much.

10. Except when you are… People assume that if they share news on Facebook that their job is finished. Like one of my long-time girlfriends. She announced her pregnancy over Facebook and, even though we’d spoken and texted during this time, it wasn’t until five months into her pregnancy that she said, ‘Oh I forgot you’re not on Facebook – I’m pregnant!’

11. People’s conversations revolve around what they’ve seen, read, or witnessed on Facebook. My husband will still come home and say ‘Did you see so-and-so’s post about…’ or a friend will say, ‘You didn’t see this, but…’

12. Some people will even try to make you feel bad for not being on Facebook. ‘Well, if you were on Facebook, you’d know that/be aware of/heard about…’ Well, if you thought it was so important for me to know, you’d have told me.

13. Facebook can waste a lot of emotionally energy. When you’re on Facebook, everyone wants a piece of you. And everyone expects you to engage – perfectly. There’s not an opportunity to make a mistake on Facebook, everyone will call you out on it like it’s their job. So after you’ve been shamed for your mistake, you’re basically forced to apologize and make right all your ‘wrongs.’

14. In the absence of Facebook, life feels much more quiet and relaxing. I used to check Facebook at every ‘Free’ opportunity – waiting for the Chiropractor, just before leaving the house (I didn’t want to miss anything!). And sometimes I’d read something very upsetting and I wouldn’t have an opportunity to respond right away. Then I would obsess over the comment/post/message/image all the way to my destination, all the while scripting my reply. Then the conversation would continue throughout the day – my daughter’s naptime, which is my ‘down time’ was spent writing back and forth with people who are not exactly looking for a fair resolution or to learn anything (and they probably think the same of me!). But now those conversations can happen in real life (but they rarely do), and I can walk away. Or they happen on twitter in 140 characters (with a super accessible block button).  I’m not racing to go check anything anymore. Or waiting for the computer to compose my epic response. My mind filled with different ideas, thoughts, information.

learned, leaving, facebook, social media, quiet life, relaxing

15. Facebook is intrusive. Anyone can tag you, post something on your wall, call you out on a thread, and get a hold of you at any time.

16. It’s expected that when you sign up for anything that you already have a Facebook account. ‘Forgot your login or password? Sign in with Facebook!’

17. You can have opinions on Facebook, but not too many. Maybe you even made friends on Facebook – say, through the intactivist movement. Go ahead and tell the world all about Genital Mutilation. But then don’t tell anyone your opinions about any other harms against children. Because then you’re just being mean and insensitive. Close-minded and judgy.

So it’s been over four months now. Will I ever go back? I don’t know. But occasionally when I tell people I’m off Facebook, I usually get some sort of ‘Good for you – save yourself!’ From people who haven’t (yet) left Facebook.

Learned, leaving, facebook, twitter, social media, reflections, thoughts, energy, time, cult, experience, camp greta

Have you had a similar experience? Are you still on Facebook and have the urge to leave? Have you never been on Facebook – for all the reasons listed? Comment below and share your observations! 

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36 Comments

  1. Bonnie

    March 25, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Well said Greta. Lots to think about here!
    Love you,
    Mom

    Reply

  2. Nicole

    March 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Awesome Greta! If I didn’t have to be on it for work I would ditch it as well. It’s everything you are saying. A waste of useful time. Comparisons, negativity…the list goes on and on…

    Reply

    • Greta

      March 25, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks, Nicole! I agree – it can be very useful for business, etc., but for personal use, it can be very overwhelming. And daunting to even consider leaving!

      Reply

  3. Kaylynn Marie

    March 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    It is not fate that I came across this post! I found you from Lisa’s blog, and was just dreaming about un-facebooking today! As a business it seems like everyone is telling you what you HAVE to do- and I’ve been hatching a plan that involves putting my little ‘talk to the hand’ up and deactivating anyway, business page and all. My plan is coming along slowly and surely… and after saying ‘uh huh! Yea! See?!’ to every one of your points.. I feel even more encouraged to a pursue a lifestyle and business plan that I see as healthy :)

    Reply

    • Greta

      March 25, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Kaylynn, it sure does sound like perfect timing for you to find this post! If you can figure out a way to make your business be as effective without Facebook, I’d love to hear how you do it!

      I have been very tempted to go back to Facebook, because when I see that my posts have been shared there, my views skyrocket. I keep thinking it could work again for me to go back and just post my blog entries. But… I really like the peacefulness that has been restored to my life since leaving.

      Good luck to you and please report back what you do!

      Reply

      • Kaylynn Marie

        March 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

        Lisa and I just had a conversation about this last night! As of now, I’m planning to let facebook exist within clearly defined perimeters. Mostly it would be a pointer to my blog and a platform for clients to see that I am a real person, interacting with real people. I’ll try to be religious about it for a month and see what happens!

        Reply

  4. Theek {The Laotian Commotion}

    March 28, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    I left FB in 2012 and it’s been (pathetically admitted) quite an enlightenment. I’ve probably earned more and gained more from outside of it. I use a fake account for coupons and websites who solely update through FB (gag me).

    Other than, miss me with that presence that they all think they deserve from us! Boo!

    Your post reminds me of my IG rampage ;) http://thelaotiancommotion.com/2014/01/28/i-was-the-worst-kind-of-instagram-mom/

    Reply

    • Greta

      March 29, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for your comment, Theek! I have been tempted to get a fake profile for coupons, etc. too. But I am sooooo afraid of being sucked back in! Love your post and your blog – thank you for sharing and I’ve subscribed to your feed now! :)

      Reply

  5. Acquanda Stanford

    April 30, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    If this post isn’t 100% on point, then I don’t know what is. I left Facebook last year, except I didn’t deactivate my account, I permanently deleted it. I think fb brings out the worst in people — like my little sister says — and paints a(nother) veneer — as if we need another one. Reality is non-existent with fb. At least that’s my opinion. Great post.

    Reply

  6. Angela

    May 6, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Finally read this and finally leaving Facebook! Great post Greta!

    Reply

  7. Tina

    June 8, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Great post! Three months now since I deactivated mine and it’s so refreshing not to even be tempted to see what’s going on in the newsfeed! Funny how people made comments to me that this is their way of communication. I actually phone, email and text my friends and family even when I had facebook. I don’t get invited to much anymore since I can’t see the invites. Real friends still know how to communicate with me and understand!

    Reply

    • Greta

      June 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      That’s great to hear, Tina! You’re right – there’s such temptation to look and see what’s going on, what people are talking about, etc. and it IS a great feeling to be able to remove yourself from all that!

      Reply

  8. Matthew R. Cywinski

    June 22, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Greta,

    I am very relieved that I am not alone in feeling this way! I feel the quality of friends is more important than the amount you have. To me, Facebook is just glossy packaged drug that can get addictive.

    After testing my theory by deactivating my profile for two months, I no longer feel that I missed out on any opportunities when it comes to getting back missing hours. In additions, my confidence by no longer giving in to its (seemingly) popularity contest on who has the most friends, likes, and comments. Personally, I shy away from whatds what makes me happy.

    Thank you Greta for sharing your thoughts! :)

    Matthew R. Cywinski
    “Steel City Hybrid Photoman”

    Reply

    • Greta

      June 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Matthew! I am so glad to hear you’ve been able to relate to this post! Isn’t it odd that our confidence can be so directly tied to the response we receive from images/articles/memes that we put up on facebook? The longer I have been away, the happier I’ve been – in fact, I have had a few bad dreams about facebook that has left me anxious about ever going back! Thank you for chiming in and sharing your experiences :)

      Reply

  9. Matthew R. Cywinski

    June 22, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Hi ! I apologize for some typos in my post, I am horrible in using my mobile for everyday things. I am new to the whole blogging community. :)

    Reply

  10. Mario Gee

    November 9, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I will post this on facebook. LOL

    Reply

  11. Monica Gallagher

    March 5, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. You hit it right on. I don’t usually publicly respond to people but this was written exactly as if my brain was dumped out about my feeling on face book. I don’t think it contributes to my life. It seemed to be all about people who need/want attention, “Look at me, look at me!” And not really about contributing to others. At least that was my experience. When someone takes the time out of their day to tell you what was left in their kitchen sink the night before, they’ve got WAY too much time on their hands.
    Thank you for sharing this! :)

    Reply

  12. christina

    April 3, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I loved this. I have been off Facebook for 5 years now and don’t ever want to go back. All of those things are so true. I’m 24 and my generation is obsessed with facebook. Its crazy to think facebook started when i was 14.my family and friends have gotten use to me not being on there. But when I meet anyone new they look at me like I’m an alien or something.

    Reply

  13. Kat

    May 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I left last year so it’s been about a full year now – I had deactivated on a somewhat routine basis because I was addicted and I had to do that to stay off for awhile. This time though I permanently deleted the account, and I have felt good about that choice ever since. Facebook can serve good purposes – it can provide support and encouragement, and I’m sure with some business ventures there are some pluses. For me, though, it ultimately seemed like FB was a competition – a clique. Who are the “cool kids” even though all of us were in our forties or fifties. Who were the “pretty” ones, the “rich” ones, who went on the best vacations or had the best parties? Everyone can lie on FB, anyone can pretend. I saw the most unattractive people receive compliments that I couldn’t believe I was reading – and never understood that either – it was as if people were just lying to make others feel good! It was a huge time waster and I decided it was time to dedicate myself to REAL life, not internet life. So I did, and I am. I am never looking back. I would highly recommend deactivating to anyone who feels the way I do. It’s wrong to have anything like that have as strong a hold on you as FB does. I also think it’s a dangerous place for secrets, extramarital affairs, and all around drama.

    Reply

  14. sylvia

    May 26, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I do agreed Facebook has become a dangerous tool. Sadly but true. Has destroy marriages, relationships,families and friendships.nothing seems to be sacred anymore to much exposure, Its good to see how other are doing but there’s not boundaries anymore.its out of control.

    Reply

  15. Dian Prima

    May 30, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    hi Greta, too bad that i just read your wonderful fact story about facebook.
    Well said, Greta. Can’t agree more…

    Am having my peaceful life without facebook and path. Haha!

    Very nice to know you… *hugs*

    Reply

  16. Risé

    June 17, 2015 at 8:49 am

    These are so true. I am currently off of Facebook for the month of June – maybe the whole summer. Like you, it causes me great anxiety especially for someone like me that could be classed as a ‘highly sensitive person.’ I ‘feel’ a lot – highly intuitive – which means that posts about child abuse and child mutilations or pet abuse makes my anxiety soar with heart palpitations that I am sure is not even good for my health. The down side of being off Facebook, is just like you say – missing out on pregnancy announcements and such. Friends even invite for social events on there and if not on Facebook, we are likely to be forgotten or excluded. I don’t know if I’ll go back either – and it’s only been a few weeks for me this time. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone off Facebook – I do leaves of absence sometimes because, for me, it is overwhelming and I think being a bit of an introvert doesn’t help either.

    Reply

  17. Stef

    June 22, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I deleted my Facebook Account 2 months ago and have reclaimed my life!
    This post is perfect, exactly how I feel about my experience with leaving that pseudo world. My mind is clearer and I am much more focused and creative.
    Excellent work!

    Reply

  18. Adrian Evergreen

    August 15, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Have been off Facebook for about two weeks and the capitulated and to-d and fro-d for about 2 or 3 days.
    Then I peeked and saw a woman lying next to a dead Kangaroo on a highway spouting about this would be her next fur coat. Joke lost on me and a few others and I thought, is THIS what fb has sunk too?
    So, no more for me and that’s gotta be a good thing.

    Reply

  19. Joy's Mommy

    August 25, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I have been off Facebook for 2 years. It is horribly sad that there have been pregnancies and births and parties that I have missed due to not having social media. It’s like it consumes people’s lives. I often get an offensive look when I tell someone I don’t have social media. Like I just made a nasty comment to them. It offends people that I am not on Facebook and I too get the ‘when will you be back on?’ I absolutely love spending time with my husband and my daughter and I don’t have the addiction of social media anymore. Like seriously. What has happened to a phone call
    or a text, or God forbid you actually hang out with a friend. I sometimes wish things could reverse to the no internet days, the no TV days. The art of conversation and sitting down for a meal with friends or family has been lost. Thank you for your post! Glad to know other people and other moms are making marriages and familes thier priority now! I too have started to be a crafty mom! Home cooked meals, evening walks with my husband, reading books together, puzzles, fantastic quality time!! Lets change the way the world thinks and spend time with our fellow man! (And my 100+ friends that I had on facebook, family included is now down to less than 20 that actually check in with a phonecall or text, and I am A-okay with that. Because those are the real people and the real support you need in your life)

    Reply

  20. Kitty

    October 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Great post. I left Facebook in June 2015. Haven’t missed it yet, don’t miss it at all, can’t believe how much time I spent on it. Just couldn’t leave it alone, like a ringing telephone. I am so happy that I left it and don’t plan on going back. It is very anxiety producing. So glad to know that other people feel the same way.

    Reply

  21. Mandy

    November 1, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I love this post, Greta!
    Every point made is so completely true!
    I gave it up last spring, but found myself back in there after school resumed to keep up with school events & parents sharing pictures from games. It is completely scary how this form of social media entirely consumes our culture.

    Reply

  22. Erin Murphy

    November 11, 2015 at 11:02 am

    i’ve been off for 14 months. Life changing, liberating. Another form of social enslavement. Great topic! Thanks for bringing it up!

    Reply

  23. . .

    November 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Facebook drained me, emotionally, physically and mentally so much so that I started to completely dislike everyone that I was “friends” with. I’ve been off for over a month and I’m not missing the whining or complaining or the attention seeking egos. I’m getting back in tune with myself.

    Reply

  24. Surya

    January 9, 2016 at 7:13 am

    I left Facebook many times for extended periods of time and experienced the shift. But this time it is for good. The only fb dealings will be for my work, a page to share my business. But I plan on hiring someone else to handle that. Since leaving Facebook only 3 weeks now, I’ve revamped and redesigned my business logo, designed the cover of two books, had my first solo book professionally edited, and now laying out my business plan. Yes, it’s any energy vampire, it does harm to the body, all our organs, triggers anxiety, lowered self-confidence especially those pretending they have it high; its a place where too many people overwhelmingly misinvest their energies! A post of truth! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  25. Jeremy

    February 29, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Thank you. I deactivated yesterday, and I’m looking to get back in touch with reality now.

    Reply

  26. Jo Summers

    April 13, 2016 at 4:04 am

    I just wanted to thank you for this insightful list. I left Facebook last weekend after months of umming and arhhing and I’m already seeing the benefits. I would particularly like to echo the problematic part where you can sign up for other apps & sites using Facebook. I have spent the last two evenings uncoupling my Spotify my my FB account and it was shockingly difficult! Surely no social media supplier should have that much control over other apps you use?! This morning i sent a happy birthday text message to my BF when I was 11. She was touched I had remember even though I’m not on FB. It does make you think. Thank you again. I will pin your list to my Pinterest board to remind myself why I left x

    Reply

  27. Brittney

    September 2, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Very well said. I deactivated my account two days ago. I am tired of timehop reminding me of my past. Im tired of living my life constantly comparing it to others. Im tired of the negativity and the constant criticism from all these empty souls. Ive been on FB since 2005 and I have put my life on hold the entire time. I constantly checked it. I would get down if someone had a baby girl or someone went somewhere or someone had the magical life they wanted me to see. Now that I have seen the light, I hace realized its all been a waste of my precious time. I truly hope I never go back. Thanks for pointing out even more reasons not to go back!

    Reply

  28. Crystal ODell

    September 18, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Yes!! I agree and I have taken many breaks but not completely removed. I have said the anxiety is brings is insane and my husband just laughs. Im glad to know that the little bits is to much for others as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  29. Melanie

    October 18, 2016 at 5:08 am

    I am not sure of when this was written because I didn’t check. I found this off of pintrest when I was searching for “living without social media” which I later had to choose “social media detox” to find any real articles or posts related to the subject. After reading through your post, I have to say Thank You! I finally feel my perspective is understood as to why I have (currently) chosen to leave FB. All my friends relate conversations to what’s going on in FB and then they’re like “ohh wait you aren’t on FB right now”. So they then explain everything. Another friend has already asked, “Do you think you will return to FB?”. Really my answer right now is “I don’t know, I just felt I needed a break”.
    To add some background info here, I am currently struggling through anxiety that is relentless and depression I am now managing with my Drs help. Facebook to me has become so overwhelming with the amount of STUFF people post and talk about that I can not keep up with. It used to be about connecting with family/friends that weren’t nearby and now it has become an addiction for many of us (myself included!). I am in the middle of a 20 day break away from all social media (although I only have FB). Within the first week, my anxiety from social media has really altogether left, with the exception of my friends having to share or re-tell about every FB post they want to bring into conversation. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I feel I have so much more free time now to get things done. My phone is FINALLY silent from all the notifications. I feel more at peace OFF of social media than I ever did while on FB. I will say the only thing I do miss is my friend that moved away to CA recently, FB is the one way we stay connected. I have debated on my choice to return after my break because I do miss seeing her family updates but I also feel she would be open to other forms of communication if I explained to her I want to keep up with her family. So AGAIN, Thank you for this post!!

    Reply

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