* Update below. Written and posted 5.28.17.
We’ve all done it. Almost automatically our finger pushes that blue button on our device. Up pops our feed and its contents can either trigger positive emotions, eliciting a laugh or smile, or more commonly, negative feelings of anger, inadequacy, or annoyance. Suddenly we are exposed to thoughts and images that we would never choose to seek out on our own.
And so . . .
I have decided, despite the few laughs and cute babies, that I am done with Facebook. Under the pretense of “staying connected” with friends I have continued year after year to post and view others’ lives. All along I’ve wondered who would actually stay in touch if I deleted my account. Who are my real friends and who have I been keeping in my life “just in case” or out of a sense of obligation? I’d much rather get a Christmas card from an acquaintance with an update letter than continue my compulsory checking of Facebook.
My First Attempt
Recently I unfollowed almost everyone. I figured I could unfollow anyone that was causing these unwanted images and thoughts to enter into my life while still being able to keep FB, staying in touch with people by checking their profiles occasionally, or at least having the option. With the political climate the way it is I tired of seeing posts that either went against my personal beliefs or were so full of anger or fear. That day I spent about an hour and just clicked “unfollow” on practically everyone, creating a feed that instead had a few close family members and those groups I enjoyed following, mostly groups that contained my interests of Catholicism, minimalism, and homeschooling.
However, I still found myself pushing that silly blue button multiple times a day! The instant gratification, though fleeting, caused me to hunt down that button on my phone, located swipes away from my other apps. And while I always expected the best, most often I was confronted with the worst.
Though I had unfollowed most “friends”, those closest to me were still posting content that I did not wish to see. But unfollowing my dearest family seemed ridiculous. If I did that, what was the point? And at that moment, my decision was made.
The Final Decision
So, after many many years, (I created an account back in 2003 when you still had to be a student to join) I’ve decided to just take the plunge and hit delete.
It’s slightly bittersweet. Facebook has helped me stay connected with acquaintances I wouldn’t have otherwise and helped me reconnect with old friends. But, if I’m truly honest, it was superficial. Having FB has kept me from asking people from their phone numbers, a much more personal decision. And I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to ask someone a question and realized I should “know” the answer because I’m sure it’s on FB. Ugh. So much for authentic communication.
I’m actually looking forward to staying in touch with friends the more “old fashioned” way (text, email, and (gasp) the phone). Yesterday I started putting this into place and I feel much more fulfilled than I have in a long time. I figure people that truly care will find a way to stay in touch. Or the relationships will fade, as sadly some relationships do. But, that’s okay too. All relationships serve a purpose, whether they were for the moment or for a lifetime or somewhere in between, and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.
Backing It Up
Before hitting “delete” I had to figure out a way to back up my Facebook photos and videos. I knew there were a few on FB that I had lost over the years. In case you decide to take the plunge as well, here’s what I found about backing up your FB account:
1. Logging on from your computer, go to “settings” from the dropdown menu on the top right corner of the page.
2. At the bottom of the page under “general” you’ll see a line of text that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
3. Click that and follow the directions. FB told me it would email the .zip file but when I went back and just repeated the steps, my link was right there! So now I’m backing it all up to Google Photos (that’ll probably be another blog post in the near future, LOVE it!) and then tonight it’ll be official!
So, onward and upward. I look forward to creating more enriched relationships with friends and family, staying in touch more consistently and with a deeper intention.
I’m curious: Have you thought about deleting Facebook? What is holding you back?
Until next time,
I have rejoined the FB community, but in a much different way. I was listening to The Minimalists in a recent podcast where they posed that it was okay to bring something back into your life as long as it had value. And, after being away from FB for a few months, I realized that it DID in fact add value.
For better or for worse, most people use FB to update their fiends and family on their lives. Unless you have a VERY committed friendship and/or it’s local, it’s just impossible to keep up with a great many friends and I realized I was missing out on a lot of the details I wanted to know about my friends.
Further, I had always enjoyed added value to other people’s lives. Hence why I started this blog. But, I knew that if I got back on FB I could again share my findings with a bigger audience.
The DAY I got back on I saw that my local friend had just had a stroke! She was eight days postpartum. We’re just recently reacquainted so that while she’s local and we’ve had playdates a couple times, I wasn’t in her close circle of notification. However, by going on FB I was able to find out what was going on and reach out to her and her family, as well as include them in my daily prayers.
I also have found value from getting back into touch with homeschooling interest groups as well as a local group. Homeschooling can be lonely and it was nice to feel like I was once again with others making the same decisions we were.
So, I don’t regret my hiatus or my reentry into the social media world. However, I still unfollow pretty much everyone but now allow myself to visit a friend’s page if I feel like I’m curious.
But first, I start with a personal reach out – because that’s always been my goal; to foster friendships authentically.