Why I Left Facebook
First, I have to apologize to the sacred cows. I offer contrition to the holy bovines because I'm going to make a blasphemous statement:
Facebook is unnatural.
Really, I'm not picking on just Facebook. Social media in general does not reflect the way relationships were and are designed to work. I'm not saying it's bad for every purpose, but I think being aware of its limitations in healthy. I'm only using Facebook as an example because it's a universal reference.
After years on social media, I inactivated most of my accounts a couple of years ago. I did so after an inventory of all aspects of my life, motivated by two goals:
1. a desire to have more peace in my life, and
2. to make the best possible use of my time.
Here are my reasons for leaving Facebook, and I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below. Have you had similar experiences?
I was just getting too much information about people . . . information I didn't need to know.
In some cases, this meant friends broadcasting indiscriminately the most intimate details of their lives. Following someone's divorce, for instance, play-by-play didn't feel good to me. But this isn't even the information I'm talking about; I could at least understand that while that person used very poor judgment, it was therapeutic to share as they processed the experience. Innocent enough.
I mean this type of information:
Take Lola, your former coworker. At work, you stayed in safe conversation zones: the boss, weekend plans, kids. So neither of you had any idea that, say, you're a "liberal elite" and she's "a deplorable" (joking, of course). Now on Facebook, she's re-posting Fox News updates, and your skin is crawling as you play whack-a-mole trying to keep that stuff off your timeline. And vice-versa for Lola.
This scenario checked both boxes for me: it did not create more peace in my life, nor was it a productive use of my time.
This scenario checked both boxes: it did not create more peace in my life, nor was it a productive use of my time.
I could say here political arguments specifically, but this really includes arguments about any emotionally charged issue. Tons of them. Without any productive outcome.
Some people on Facebook are drawn to arguments like moths to a flame.
The underlying reason for me, which I've observed is true for others, is that there are many people in my network that think differently than I do -- very, very differently. I don't mean trivial differences; I mean major differences . . . sometimes in nearly all the issues that matter in life. But we're "friends" because there has been other common ground that has unified us at one time or another (we went to the same school, we worked together, we knew the same people, etc.), and this common ground has caused us to think we should try to maintain our relationship indefinitely.
We've all seen, or participated in, the endless thread of back-and-forth, trying to change someone's mind or justify your position, and as emotions rise, it gets nastier with each new response. And sometimes it even drags in strangers from the endless web of connections.
This is a no-brainer. In terms of time, I kept checking my phone for every new comment, then firing back responses . . . this could go on for hours. And not only did not create more peace, but was clearly destructive. I felt icky after reading or commenting, and it served to accomplish nothing.
This is one of the strangest results of Facebook, I think. I wonder if we've all experienced the phenomenon of being friends with someone on Facebook, then literally walking by them at the store, hoping you don't catch eyes. It's almost laughable to describe. And for what?
There is some obligation we feel online due to implied social media courtesies and protocols that just do not translate well or naturally into real life. In real life, when I stop working with someone, we may not talk for several years. Then we might run into each other at the store, do a heartfelt catch-up, say it was great to see each other, hug and move on.
I had 1,000 friends on Facebook. Now, on a monthly basis, I talk to about 10.
This is probably the biggest and most important reason for me.
I have wonderful memories with all of these people and the things we did together: elementary school, high school, sports, college, church, . . . it goes on and on.
I treasure those memories. Sometimes I picture myself in the future: that one day, I might be old and alone in a nursing home, and I'll have those vivid memories to sustain me. So I want those memories to stay as special and as unaltered as they are in my mind now.
When I think of Joey from high school, I want to remember our Senior trip and parties and soccer games . . . I don't want to think about the sludge I've been seeing on his Facebook feed because that affects how I view him as a person.
The Best Decision I Made
Of course, there are still things I occasionally miss about Facebook. When everyone is going to the same event, for instance, or making plans -- I've missed out. When people get married or have a baby -- I've missed some of the happy milestones. Similarly, there have been a couple of times I've missed the news that someone has passed away or some other tragic circumstance has befallen a friend, where I wished I had known in a more timely manner.
But overall, there is absolutely no question that I've gained a much better quality of life in the Facebook exchange.