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What happened when I gave up Facebook…

Sorry Zuckerberg

Why I did it…

About 3 years ago I gave up Facebook. It was Monday morning and my boss at the time had gone for a long weekend away with some friends she hadn’t seen in years. Over that weekend my Facebook feed was clogged with photos, status updates and location check-ins, showing her to be having an amazing time. So when I came into work on Monday morning and asked how her weekend was,  I wasn’t expecting the reply;  “Bloody awful. I can’t stand any of them…absolute nightmare. I’m actually so happy to be back at work”.

Everyone knows how successful Facebook and other social media platforms are at displaying inflated fabrications of people’s “perfect lives”. How, when someone whips out a camera, empty expressions are instantly washed over with smiles which following the ‘snap’ contort into anguish and negative self-judgements over “bad lighting” and “bad angles”, whilst the photo just posted shows happy faces.

I actually worked in depth on a paper during my Masters which looked at the psychological effects of social media so I expected myself to have a pretty good awareness for spotting superficiality when it comes to social media. I was therefore completely taken by surprise at my boss’ remark and decided that I didn’t want anything more to do with this phoney cyber world – I was happy enough with the tangible world around me. So I deleted it.

From Facebook to real books

Gone were thousands of photos and hundreds of connections, and I actually didn’t care. I thought about what I could do with the time previously spent aimlessly scrolling through the Facebook feed, and decided I would now spend this time reading. I went to my local library to get a library card and started reading.

Three years later and this was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I’ve since read hundreds of books. I started by jotting down each one with a rating in case I ever wanted to re-read it, but this stopped somewhere between numbers 50-60. I’ve read so many gripping books, inspirational books and also a number of rubbish ones  (which more often than not I feel I owe to the author to finish, upon which I’m just annoyed even more). There’s nothing quite like being completely immersed in a book and actually enjoying extra time caused by a train diversion, or your plane being delayed for take off. 

What happened next…

In a world where Facebook friend connections once provided me with a feeling of sociability and popularity, I’ve now connected with people over real conversations, over mutually enjoyed books, shared ideas, podcasts and had time to explore the real world. I may have lost 100’s of connections but the trade off has been priceless.  I feel so much happier, so much more present and I speak to the people that I am actually friends with more than ever. Not being able to just click their profile to see what they’re doing means I need to message them/ call them/ have a proper conversation to really find out how they are. So what if I don’t know that a girl who I haven’t seen since I was 14 now has two children, a husband and a dog. Surely it would be weirder if I not only knew this, but also what they all look like and where they had lunch on Sunday…

Of course not having Facebook does have it’s limitations. When I was organising a surprise party for my boyfriend I had to contact his friends through their girlfriends on LinkedIn, which really is not the most seamless event planning strategy. Even so I found a way to do it and it actually made it more of an entertaining process! 

For me, Facebook-free is the way! If you spend even a tiny bit of time scrolling through your Facebook feed, think of everything else you could be doing: 

  • Meeting someone new (why do people struggle so hard to  just look around them and not at their phone when they’re in public?!) 
  • Learning a new fact (one podcast I highly recommend for interesting facts is Stuff You Should Know – I won’t give them too much praise though as I’m still waiting for a reply to my suggestion that they do a podcast on Pablo Escobar…)
  • Reading a new book
  • Writing a blog
  • Finding a new recipe to make
  • Reaching out to an old friend (I recently reconnected with an old childhood best friend who I hadn’t seen in 16 years!)  
  • Doing a 5 minute exercise 
  • The list is endless!

Forget detoxing, face-masks, juicing. Getting rid of Facebook is the best cleanse of all And it’s free! Have a try 🙂 

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