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Why I Was Happier After I Left Facebook

Updated on April 18, 2013
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I don't expect everyone to agree with what I am going to say, but here it is: I was much happier after I left Facebook, and I think that despite some positives, Facebook is a negative influence influence within society. While I love Facebook for non-profit outreach, small business marketing and for news feeds, I'm skeptical about its use for purely personal reasons.

First off, Facebook encourages narcissism and self-contentedness. Facebook also poses major threats to privacy. Furthermore, some studies have shown that social media sites like Facebook make people feel less satisfied with their own lives. For me, Facebook is a huge waste of time. I would rather have real life interaction with friends and family.

I joined Facebook in 2008 after the demise of Myspace. I had a profile continuously until December 2012, when I decided to take a break by deactivating my account. I was at my wits end with people sharing their views on the Sandy Hook tragedy, and generally fed up with Facebook in general. So I deactivated my account. For 3 1/2 months I interacted in person, by phone, or by email. I was so much happier without wasting my precious time sorting through inanities and photographs of people who I don't interact with in real life. Unfortunately, I have returned to Facebook to make a page for my small business. But if I could, I'd sooner have it out of my life for several reasons:

Facebook narcissism
Facebook narcissism | Source

Facebook Encourages Narcissism

Facebook is a narcissist's dream. It provides the perfect platform for grandiosity and exhibitionism. Narcissistic personality traits have been on the rise since the 1980s, likely because of the self esteem movement's influence on parenting techniques over the past decades. Many suspect that social media merely exacerbates this societal trend. Facebook encourages self-centeredness even for non narcissists because of the nature of the platform itself, unless you don't contribute at all. Social media generally encourages self promotion.

Some people post hundreds of pictures of themselves and multiple status updates from every event and non-event in their life. I would ask, why can't you just do something without telling everyone about it? Some parents seem to need to share every detail of their child's life. I saw an example on a forum: "XXX finally did his nightly poop on the potty. YAY, now I can sleep." Why post this on Facebook where most people don't care? I almost want to respond, "Congrats to you and the millions of other parents in this world for having a kid that can poop into a hole."

The bottom line is that it smacks of insecurity to constantly seek reinforcement via Facebook.

Berlin graffiti.
Berlin graffiti. | Source

Facebook Threatens Personal Privacy

Privacy is not given the priority that it once was. Social media has changed the way we view privacy as a culture. The last thing I would want to do is update my location so that all of my friends and friends of friends know that I am away on vacation. I also would not want to post a million pictures of my child to be picked up by facial recognition software. Everything you ever disclose online is public information and is recorded somewhere. But I am in the minority with these type of concerns even though evidence suggests that they are justified.

A recent study by Consumer Reports reveals that "the most startling findings however, involve how much Facebook knows about its nearly 900 million members, and how much we freely offer — information mined by employers, insurers, the IRS, divorce lawyers, as well as identity thieves and other criminals."

Facebook is notorious for changing its own privacy polices, for making opt-in the default for controversial privacy policies rather than opt out, and for claiming ownership of personal content and photographs uploaded to Facebook. Some mobile apps for Facebook automatically pull your phone number and contact information and associate them with your account even if you never allowed it. Facebook also installs tracking cookies on your computer, sells information about your preferences to advertisers, has revealed private messages on timelines, and has ignored the pro-privacy results from its community voting program.

It is a known fact that many employers check their employees' social media pages. Even if you have your account configured for the maximum amount of privacy, and you are careful about what images you post online, you can't stop your friends from posting images that you might rather not have plastered all over the Internet, and tagging you in them! Some people regulate their offline behavior around cameras, rather than be portrayed negatively on Facebook.

Facebook Makes People Less Happy

One study from New Zealand's University of Canterbury concluded that:

"Spending time on Facebook ranked among the 10 worst activities in terms of unpleasantness and lack of engagement. It was ranked as the least meaningful activity and the one that made people the second-most unhappy, surpassed only by recovering from illness."

Other academic studies from Germany have shown that viewing Facebook tends to make people feel lonely or less happy about their own lives. One third of people felt less happy after viewing Facebook, and the more time a person spent on Facebook without contributing, the more unhappy they were likely to feel.

All unhappiness is based on comparison. Yet people fail to realize that others are creating an intentional persona which they share with the world via social media. They are more likely to self censor, and to only disclose flattering or positive things about their lives, even if they are not very happy themselves. When we see pictures of someone's great vacation or their happy family, we assume that they might be happier and more fulfilled than we are. But this is exactly the image that people are trying to portray, regardless of veracity. So social media profiles often paint a non-objective picture of someone's level of happiness, and it is unwise to compare what you perceive about others via social media to your own life situation.

So there you have it folks. While I unfortunately won't be deactivating my account anytime soon, I will continue to monitor what I share and with whom, and to spend as little time on Facebook as possible.

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    • profile image

      Rick Myres 16 months ago

      Yipeee I found it and changed my email here. Oh probably just me not seeing it.

    • profile image

      Rick Myres 16 months ago

      I created a new Facebook and changed my email there. I changed my email here back a long time ago and need to again now but see no way to change it again.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 16 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thank you for writing this interesting article.

      I agree that most Facebook relationships are shallow at best. I still like to use my facebook account to see what my kids are up to, since they are scattered far and wide.

      Privacy is a difficult issue. As an author, I am all over the internet, and I use facebook as a tool to keep my name out there and my books selling.

      My husband, however, has very little internet exposure, and is very careful with his own personal identity.

      I think, like most things, it is a personal decision, and depends on your desired outcome.

      What is your intention for being online, on Facebook, or even on hubpages? When you can answer that question, then you can make a clear decision.

      Thanks for writing.

      Namaste

    • profile image

      Amandajon30a 3 years ago

      I use to have my own PR business where I ran over 25 social pages including FB. I really started to hate FB, but I knew I had to keep my account for my pages.

      I decided to make a ghost account with a fake name and location and put it on a different email account. I then made my ghost account friends with my real account, liked all of my pages I am admin, then made my ghost account an admin for all the pages.

      Once this was completed, I could deactivate my real personal account. Life is sooo much better since I did this!

      Just wanted to pass along what I did to make my life happier. Hope it gets better for you :)

    • profile image

      Johnc124 3 years ago

      Thanks for this article. I'd also like to convey that it can always be hard if you find yourself in school and starting out to initiate a long history of credit. There are many college students who are only trying to live and have long or good credit history can often be a difficult thing to have. cckeedeafbca

    • profile image

      Amaya 3 years ago

      There is a way to keep Spotify. Simply sign up a new Spotify account with a different email not associated with Facebook.

    • profile image

      mia 3 years ago

      I really wish there was a way to deactivate facebook but keep spotify. Sigh.

    • profile image

      Trevor Holohan 3 years ago

      I actually had my Facebook account from early 2011 until yesterday evening when I eventually realised the horrible truth of just how shallow my online relationships really were when several people whom I had considered to be genuine longtime friends sadly proved to be anything but, when they began spreading malicious rumours and hurtful comments behind my back. That was it as far as I was concerned. At the end of the day, Facebook is just a social media outlet, and not worth being overly upset about at all. Thank goodness that I deleted mine when I finally plucked up the courage to do so. What I do not know about cannot ever hurt me any longer. I am much happier and enjoying a more fulfilling life without Facebook. I will never go back there again. I am free.

    • profile image

      Rick Myres 4 years ago

      Well, the way I deleted my Facebook account was from a Hub page here to click a link to delete it. You have to be signed into your Facebook to do it.

    • profile image

      Sonia Roselli 4 years ago

      It's sad. The fact that we HAVE NO CHOICE cause of our small business is infuriating to me...as a small biz owner.

      I deactivated my account last Dec 2012 as well because of the same things. Was deactivated for about 3 months. LOVED IT! I was so much happier too. Got back on and my anxiety went through the roof.

      Honestly, I wish Facebook would die. I really, really do. I am going to pay someone to man my business pages while I am deactivated. As long as I can make them admin of the pages, I can stay deactivated.

      The sad thing is, Facebook won't really let you delete anything. They friggin' own your ass.

    • profile image

      Brandon 4 years ago

      I joined in '06 and left in '10. I grew sick and tired of the Zuck's complete disregard toward his users and do not miss him at all. It's actually really crazy, but leaving gives you the same sense of excitement you had when you joined. I have a feeling Facebook will become the new AOL when the next great thing comes along.

    • profile image

      Damo 4 years ago

      Deleted my account 16 months ago. Never looked back. What you state here is very correct on all levels. Now I just call people. Call me old fashioned but you just can't beat a verbal or face to face conversation. I'm 10 times happier for it too.

    • Leah Gold profile image
      Author

      Leah Gold 4 years ago

      I agree. I have no choice though because I need a FB page for my small business.

    • profile image

      Rick Myres 4 years ago

      I deactivated my Facebook account once around a year ago. Then after 6 months I was told all I needed to do was sign in. Well I did and everything was there still. After another 3 months I being back I then lost total interest in it. Then I deleted my account about 2 months ago and don't even miss it.

    • NathaNater profile image

      NathaNater 4 years ago

      I agree with you. Facebook encourages egotism and also comparison; lots of pretense on Facebook and, as you say, people only project themselves in a flattering way there. I've thought many times of deactivating my account.

      Also like how you cited research. The findings are interesting and kind of what I figured about Facebook.