I’ve stopped using Facebook

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My Facebook angst grew slowly through 2013 as my wife & I planned our wedding. What became clear was that no matter who we sent invites to for the big day, I could not choose who got to witness the occasion and who didn’t. Why? The sharing of photos and status updates by the guests who would come along, via Facebook, was completely out of my control.

Fast forward to the big day and sure enough, within a few hours of our ceremony, photos uploaded to Facebook by friends and family were clocking up likes from their networks at a quick fire rate. People I’ve never met suddenly had an insight into how our day was progressing. I hadn’t even had a chance to thank the guests who were actually with us that day before others were associating themselves via likes and comments.

What followed quickly was a self imposed social media ban for our 3 week honeymoon. We shut ourselves off and truly enjoyed our travels together.

The loss of all those Facebook connections hit especially hard immediately after sharing such a memorable occasion with our closest friends and family. I felt like I was potentially doing something wrong and hurting others by cutting off the Facebook connection with them. That sounds crazy. Looking back, I was crazy to feel that way.

Not long after we were back from our honeymoon I realised I hadn’t gone back to using Facebook much at all. It was then that I decided to experiment with staying off the service. This was not to be some act of rebellion to attract attention, this was to be, and still is an experiment. I simply felt the need to stop using the service and did not use Facebook to announce this to anyone.

The experiment:

Stop using Facebook. Remove the Facebook apps from my iPhone & iPad. I’m close to fully deleting my account but friends contacting me via the separate Facebook Messenger iPhone app is holding that up. Not using the “core” Facebook platform for 5 months has been an interesting experiment and I’ve learnt a few things.

Facebook destroys the present moment.

By not sharing anything via Facebook, conversations and offline connections have become more special. How many times have you gone to share something great with a friend that you recently experienced only for them to respond:

“Oh yeah I know, I saw that on Facebook”.

It’s nice now to catch up with friends and family and not know about all the things going on in each others world. We now have actual conversations to share those things. Sounds like a fairly simple thing, but you’d be surprised as to how much conversation is killed due to the constant sharing of day to day happenings on Facebook.

The folks at Facebook have succeeded in convincing us that we need it so that we might keep our friends and family close. This is bullshit.

When you have one less thing at your disposal to instantly share a moment with a whole bunch of people, you feel less compelled to capture it. At a gig recently, my phone magically stayed in my pocket and I simply enjoyed the moment and the time spent with friends.

I have lost connections. This is ok.

The people I liked on Facebook are the ones I talk to on a regular basis outside of Facebook. Funny that!

Sure, most of my friends and family are still having conversations, sharing photos, and creating inside jokes that I am to this day left out of. This has been ok too. Recently I had to remind a friend that I hadn’t been on Facebook in a while and was reassured I actually haven’t missed anything of significance amongst our friend group by not being around.

Last time I checked I had 250 odd Facebook friends. In real life I probably have somewhere between 10 and 20.

It’s just not realistic to have 250 friends. Some people have 1000’s on Facebook. It’s a bit weird that all those people have access to your personal information, images, likes, and timeline and are just hanging around. Facebook offer different filter settings so you can group your “friends” into who can see what etc. If someone is my friend then why should I try to prevent them from seeing a status update or photo? Isn’t that the point of a social network?

Facebook doesn’t make me a better person.

Facebook made it easy for me to be a crappy friend and family member. I never had to pick up the phone. I’m the only one to blame for this but not using Facebook has helped me realise I don’t need any help with my relational apathy. Without Facebook, there’s no more easy way out on giving birthday wishes or letting people know I’m back home for the weekend.

I have been forced to put effort back into personal forms of communication. Phone calls. Text messages. Emails. At first it was slightly annoying but it’s since helped me keep in touch much more. Last week I used the phone to talk to my 6 year old niece for her birthday. No chance to casually browse Facebook and throw a few likes at pictures of her party to feel like I’ve acknowledged the occasion, but an actual conversation.

Real communication is hard work but the lack of Facebook in my life has reminded me it’s infinitely more rewarding.

My ego doesn’t need fuel.

Facebook is a never-ending popularity contest of likes, comments and reposts. Just because narcissism is now more accepted than ever, that doesn’t mean it’s okay.

Every time I was browsing Facebook, I was sacrificing a more meaningful use of time. Without it, I’m enjoying more rare time alone with my wife, a chance to progress personal projects, and more time to read something online other than a news feed full of links and information I don’t actually find that interesting.

Let’s not even get into the privacy and advertising side of things. Maybe that’s another post for later.

Next:

I’ve hardly been tweeting lately and my Instagram posts have dried up completely. I’ve given Snapchat a go but it never caught on. All of this lack of social media usage, along with an abstinence from Facebook, and my life has never been more pleasant. I feel like I’m living more in the now and I’m definitely enjoying the time spent with my wife, friends and family much more.

Maybe it’s time to delete all social media from my life.

Phil

Technology & digital product enthusiast. Still searching for the perfect t-shirt.