I’ll admit it, I’m as nosy as the next person. Despite my claims to be on Facebook for ‘business’ part of my reason for joining it in the first place was a healthy dose of FOMO. Then came ‘Fake news” closely followed by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, then, data breaches and most damningly, genocide of the Rohingya. Exposé after exposé left me feeling that Facebook just wasn’t a good fit for me (or the business) anymore. So I made the decision to eliminate it completely from my social media. I stopped using Facebook. Here’s what happened.
It started with the Cambridge Analytica exposé alongside continuous claims of ‘fake news.’ Social experiments, one data privacy breach too many and more recently, the claims that Facebook had been utilised for the incitement of genocide in Burma have left me feeling uncomfortable. I felt more than a tad grubby for being part of something that had seemed so innocuous to begin with.
Facebook responded with ads on TV, pulling at our heart strings with images of friendships, births, of human connection. It felt hollow, cynical even.
We’re fun, they said. We’re with you. Look at what you’ll miss if you leave. They’d learned, they said. They would change. It just didn’t convince me. It was like breaking up with a flakey, compulsively deceitful partner. Each time you forgave them, they went and did it again.
You wanted to believe them but couldn’t. They’d let you down one too many times. They didn’t value the relationship. It was time to severe the ties. Could I continue to use Facebook knowing that all this was going on and still claim to be an ethical business? Erm, nope. So I went nuclear and deleted everything. I stopped using Facebook. Here’s what happened.
A social media pariah
Even though I explained in great detail to people what I was doing and why (including Facebook) they just didn’t get it. Friends I’d considered way more political than me, looked at me blankly. What about keeping in touch with friends? they asked in horror as they edged away from the social media pariah.
Businesses I worked with who were using Facebook as a platform found it mind blowingly difficult to comprehend that I wouldn’t be using it.
I’d been asked to participate in online conferences, to present my research on resilience (the irony) with people who were unwilling to offer an alternative, even though there were several.
When I wanted to invest in courses for my own learning, Facebook was often the supporting platform. Those companies just didn’t understand. The perceived bottom line was more important to them. They lost on out sales. Note to self. As a business don’t put all your eggs in one tech basket, it just doesn’t make sense.
Traffic dipped and then didn’t…
Although it was primarily a business account I’d always felt that Facebook wasn’t really doing much for our social media presence. Despite the followers, sometimes I wondered if anyone was actually paying attention to the carefully curated content and free resources we posted. So, you can imagine my surprise after deleting everything that we noticed a significant dip in website traffic.
It soon picked up again. The effort that went into building our presence on new platforms resulted in more visitors, not fewer. Bonus.
I felt less stressed.
It’s my job to know about the link between social media use and depression. Not to mention nomophobia. I really do know better than to be constantly connected to anything digital. The more you do it, the unhappier you get. There was no excuse. So what was life like without Facebook ‘friends’?
I didn’t feel the need to hop from one friend (or frenemy) to another checking out what they’d had for dinner or where they’d been. Spare time is universally precious and all of a sudden I had more of it. I wasn’t wasting hours mindlessly dipping in and out of other people’s lives. I became more mindful of my time and how I was using it.
I found new ways to connect with friends in real time. I made the effort. It felt more real because it was. Those interactions had more depth and honestly, increased the joy in my life. Deleting Facebook provided the opportunity to re-connect with people who I valued and leave behind those who I didn’t really need to see or hear from.
There were suddenly fewer mood hoovers and emotional vampires sucking away at my energy. I felt lighter, happier and less involved in the kind of conversations that can be mentally draining.
Deleting Facebook reduced the volume on nebulous, unnecessary chatter that I hadn’t realised was quite so irritating. I liked the silence. A lot. And I’m sorry Facebook, but I won’t be coming back. It’s not me, it’s you.
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