I am the last person anyone would expect to quit Facebook. I was active. Active. I posted quotes from my kids, articles that touched me and needed immediate sharing with the world, pics of food I enjoyed, and lots of political opinions. I "friended" everyone I met, high school friends I lost touch with, friends of friends...you get the point.
As someone who owns my own business and works from home, Facebook was a great way to stay connected to the outside world and feel less isolated. In just a few minutes and a couple keystrokes, I could know that there was a community of like-minded people around me, frustrated with our political system and ready to shout it from the rooftops. Facebook was a great way to crowdsource for podcast recommendations, new restaurants to try, or find out about what was going on in my community. But mostly, it was a great way to keep in touch with people who live far away, or who I just don't usually connect with. I enjoyed scrolling through the lives of distant acquaintances; applauding their successes, grieving their losses, and cooing over their adorable babies.
However, what started as a way to connect, ended up becoming more isolating. The connections were lazy. Commenting on a post or reading someone's latest thought didn't really make me feel any closer to them. I started to crave authentic connection, and to be held accountable to try harder to find it. When I work with clients, one of the biggest themes that comes up is this idea of living authentically and forming deep connections. It doesn't matter if you're a CEO, a housewife, someone in between jobs, or a lifelong middle manager - the need to connect and be "seen" is universal. With Facebook, the connections were fun, but fleeting; I was seen, but only within the lens of what I was willing to share.
Here are some reasons that Facebook no longer worked for me:
A while ago, I made a commitment to myself to expand my bubble and interact more with others who are unlike me. People of different religions, races, cultures, political opinions, etc. However, I realized that my Facebook community was really a way for me to remain sheltered among like-minded thinkers who perpetuate my beliefs. I realized that if I really want to get new perspectives, I need to physically place myself in new spaces, and take the risk of feeling discomfort in new surroundings. I need to be out there, in spaces where I can't just turn off the computer if I suddenly feel uncomfortable.
I've always been a person who thrives on connection. I still send snail-mail birthday cards, and I thrive on a night out with friends or a personal lunch. I started noticing that I was replacing real interaction with Facebook interaction. For example, when thinking of a friend who I hadn't seen in a while, I might think, "I talk to her all the time..." when in reality all of our interaction was through Facebook and I really didn't know anything about the real stuff happening in her life.
I have been using my Facebook company page to reach potential clients and share my blog posts. After doing some quick analytics, I realized that most of the traffic I get for my posts, as well as 100% of online new client requests are happening through LinkedIn. I was spending so much extra time posting on Facebook, when I should have just been focusing on content and connecting with the right audience.
I stopped being as present in the moment as I wanted to be. Everything I experienced, thought, or dreamed went through a filter in my mind of should I post this? I stopped experiencing just for the sake of experience and treasuring moments that were just mine.
I know that Facebook has so many wonderful uses and I already miss it - only 2 days into my ban. I think that my own relationship to Facebook may have been more extreme than the many other users out there. However, for me it was about noticing that I was using this application as a crutch, and not experiencing life, connection and myself in the way that felt true to me.
Since quitting Facebook, I've set up a lunch with a local friend I've only connected with through Facebook in the 5 years since I've seen her. I've had several meaningful phone conversations with people who live far away. I rented a work space from WeWork, to bring myself out of isolation and be inspired by the energy of those around me. I think that all of this could have easily have been accomplished while still holding on to my Facebook account, but there's something about severing that tie, that opened up new mental space for me.
I'm not blind to the necessity of online platforms, and I still use LinkedIn for all my business connection needs, and I love Instagram for sharing photos of my kids with my faraway family. But Facebook, in particular, was not good for my health. Today, the fear of constantly missing something is gone, the obligation of making quick and forgettable connections is lifted, and I'm eager to see what possibilities are in store for me... offline.