I recently took about a 6 week hiatus from Facebook. Like most of you, I had deactivated my account before but this time was different. I possessed a very strong urge to pursue my solitude, and Facebook just didn’t fit into the equation. The months leading up to my break, Facebook started to feel more like more a chore and less like a source of entertainment. The social media app that was designed to bring people closer together started to make me feel strangely alienated from everyone, including my “real life friends”. I noticed that spending time on Facebook started to drain my energy and shift my focus onto things that were not important. I started to be left with a very dissatisfied taste in my mouth and it shouldn’t have been that way. Here are some of the reasons that I was able to pinpoint that led to my Facebook “detox”:
1. The Negativity
It started to seem like Facebook had become an outlet for routinely negative content. From people taking pictures of strangers in order to publically shame them, to people wanting to put other peoples’ personal business “on blast,” to blatant racism, the negativity that was displayed had begun to affect me adversely. I’m a firm believer that happy thoughts lead to a happy life. The less negativity I see, the better I feel.
2. The Lies
Faking that your life is much better than what it really is runs rampant on Facebook. I get it: Most people want to post only the positive aspects of their life and downplay the negatives. I’ve done it. But there is a fine line between diplomacy and straight up embellishing the truth. What many people fail to remember is that many of the people on their friends list know them in real life and know the real truth about their lives. While tweaking your life for social media may seem like a good look, completely re-writing your story to change how you’re perceived online isn’t.
3. Social Media Isn’t a Dating Service
I cannot stress this one enough. My experience has been that because I simply have chosen to participate in social media, I am considered a candidate for unsolicited inbox messages from people (mostly strangers) who want to get to know me better. While some people welcome these types of messages and may have even met the person of their dreams on Facebook, I prefer to use Facebook as a way to keep up with those people that I know in real life, not as a way to meet new people. If I was interested in online dating, there are plenty of options to explore, but I don’t consider Facebook to be one of them.
4. Facebook is a Great Place for Misunderstandings
I can’t tell you the number of times beefs between people have begun all because of a Facebook post. People look to others’ behavior on Facebook as an indicator if they are on good terms or not. People have stopped talking because someone didn’t like their photo, they viewed a quote that they thought was subliminally meant for them or they viewed pictures of an event that they were not invited to. Facebook has become a replacement for picking up the phone and actually communicating with one another. There is no need to talk to your friends because all you have to do is visit their feed to see what they are doing. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the pre-Facebook days because people communicated more with fewer misunderstandings.
5. Sometimes People Overshare
Being able to know everyone’s thoughts sounds great until it is actually happening. Sometimes people share the most mundane details of their lives on Facebook (Did I really need to know that you plan to jog 3 miles, go to the grocery store and do your laundry today?). On the opposite extreme, sometimes people spill ALL of their tea (personal business) and share the innermost details of their lives that we wish they wouldn’t. In either case, you’re subjected to useless information while wasting your time. I’d rather not.
What I learned from my break from Facebook:
While on break from Facebook, I had the chance to focus on myself (something I rarely do). All the “noise” from Facebook was eliminated and it gave me the opportunity to really tap into what I really wanted and needed in my life. I had the chance to interact with my friends the old-fashioned way, which felt way more authentic than any social media interactions. I have since returned to using Facebook, but I do so in a much more limited capacity than I previously did. While it’s that true that the “hide”, “delete” and “block” feature exist on Facebook (trust me, I’ve used them liberally), sometimes it’s just good to get away from social media to focus on real life situations. I’m more interested in creating a great life in reality rather than one that just looks good on the internet.