I Quit Facebook

I quit Facebook last summer, cold turkey, and it stuck. For the first few days it was very strange for me, but then…  I have a presence on Facebook now for my novels and to run a fan page for an art guild of which I’m a member. I have no “personal” presence. A couple of my friends followed my lead and, as did I, found their lives were better — more peaceful and more productive.

What continues to be strange is that if you leave Facebook people have serious reactions — they can feel rejected (personally), they can stop being your friends IN REAL LIFE, and it is pretty much the end of contact. I didn’t have a ton of ‘friends’ and most of my ‘friends’ were really friends or good acquaintances. From time-to-time I get emails that say, “We miss you on Facebook.” After quitting Facebook I finished the edits on a novel and began another.


Day One: Facebook. I suppose it’s a kind of drug. Yesterday, I took a step back and thought about Facebook. What’s good about it? Connections with people I want to be connected with. What’s bad about it? It’s a time suck and an emotion suck.  There’s so much bullshit in day-to-day life that looking for it at home on one’s computer just seems kind of nuts. Can I live without it? Can ANYONE live without it in these days? Can friendships survive the absence of that connection? I guess I want to know the answer to that.

Human relationships are already fraught with peril. So… Whatever it is I want from life or have ever wanted from life, well, generally just something that isn’t hedged in by ickiness.

Day Two: It’s a little strange not to check my “wall” and I realize how much of that was habit not curiosity. Reading news stories and checking sources for students, hitting on articles I would otherwise share is also strange, but OK. I remembered my first exposure to Facebook and how perplexed I was that my Facebook friends posted things which were no more content-rich than “I just inhaled” “I’m exhaling now”. Of course, I think I became/have become that person.

We need attention. I’ve had a long email conversation today with a friend from long ago about loneliness. She is very lonely and reasonably so. She’s married to a man a lot older than she is. They live in a beautiful condo but out of the center of things. She’s somewhat introverted and from another culture so making new friends is not all that easy for her. She would really like a social life and I think she needs one.

I’d like one, too, and I think Facebook filled that gap in a way, but not a satisfying way. It is a social life without actually having to “socialize.” For me maybe that makes sense as I live “way to heck and gone” (such was not the case when gas cost 1/3 what it does now) and I work a lot, but for my friend Facebook doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it does for me, either, or I’d still be there.

Anyway, it is an addiction and it’s not going to be gone in one day. I would like to tell someone that my ear hurts or that my painting is going well or that Einstein didn’t say, “Insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I’d like to craft a rant on students being lazy. But thinking of what I would do on Facebook makes me ask a question I would ask if I were actually posting on Facebook. Is any of that necessary for me to say or for others to know? What is really necessary for me? It would seem that it’s necessary for me to grade papers as they come in and work on a cow painting and maybe ride the stationary bike. Maybe it’s essential to focus on where I want to go with myself and my life and to use my time for that rather than seeking attention. Maybe NOT having THAT attention will inspire me to turn outward toward the world. Maybe I’ll return to long afternoon rambles in the mountains (doubtful with allergies and $4 gas but who knows?). I have definitely perceived the different amount of time I have without Facebook.

An interesting article that describes many of the discomforts I’ve been having:

Now the trick is to stick with it. There are even PLANS for quitting Facebook. T

Day Three:  And so here we are again. I’m grading student papers, most of which are not very good, but I’m just kind of stuck here reading bad writing and non-thought and not being able to breathe and fearing going outside because of the allergens.

But… a friend wrote about using Twitter to promote her artwork. I took a little internet jaunt to see what I could find out and I logged into my Twitter account. The thought of doing anything with it was completely enervating and that was that. Good idea or not, I don’t want to. Kim, who also “quit” Facebook yesterday is experiencing REAL depression and probably needs to see a doctor, but she also thinks Facebook has contributed to her feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and dread.“Ultimately, Facebook is changing the human race. People think, speak and live in status updates. We have become short spurts of witty commentary. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with a person, rather than just their online character. We are all becoming narcissists. 

“We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being ‘alone together’…We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party,” wrote M.I.T. professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle in the New York Times.”As for me — I don’t know much more than I just want to stay away from it, for now at least. One day at a time!Facebook is a tedious distraction. More often than not, Facebook acts as a distraction and not a tool to “reconnect.” In fact, it’s estimated to be costing the U.S. economy billions. Constantly checking Facebook is an addictive habit, and one that is hard to break. We check our smart-phones every six-and-a-half minutes, and part of the reason why is that we’re always refreshing our Facebook pages. It’s hard to overestimate the site’s addictiveness. Alexia Tate, a friend of a friend who I’m connected to on Facebook, took a break from the site for 40 days during Lent last year. When she came back, she noticed that she’d become more of a Facebook fiend than ever. “Kind of like smoking,” she wrote in an email.”

Another article, a very good one, “The Flight from Conversation,” by Sherry Turkle, says, wisely (in my opinion)

“So, in order to feel more, and to feel more like ourselves, we connect. But in our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves. Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don’t experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves.

We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely. If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.”


24 thoughts on “I Quit Facebook

  1. I used to play games in Facebook, but did a cold turkey a few years ago. I am still in Facebook, have a page there for my blogs and my old school has a page which I like to read. I also like to visit my old home town (East End of London). Otherwise I cannot be bothered with the stupid comments from some people, as if they do not have a life. I would leave Facebook, were it not for a few groups. People do not interest me.

    • People DO interest me, but Facebook isn’t people. I have no idea WHAT it is. It is certainly dehumanizing.

  2. I am so happy you wrote about Facebook. It is an addiction. I guess all of the internet is an addiction. I am getting so used to it, I really can’t imagine life without it, but I do know, I would visit more often.

  3. I still have my Facebook account – I figure it’s mainly lazy networking (ie: ways to keep track of people I don’t see regularly) and a good way to keep family members who don’t live in town up to date on my kids (ie: I post baby pics).

    It was also very useful when I wanted to buy a new car. I asked some questions and got a lot of advice. So whenever I don’t know much about something – I generally post the question to my wall and see what I get.

    But I do get many of the concerns listed above – I think it makes people much more inwardly focussed, harms real connections if you let it, and gives others a false idea of what the lives of their peers are actually like (because you tend to post your best self rather than your struggles) which can lead to people unnecessarily comparing and feeling they don’t measure up.

    And the bullying aspects of it scare me as a parent. I’m forever glad it didn’t exist as I went through my wonder years.

    • I’d be scared for my kids with it, too, had I kids to be scared for. Facebook was great for me when my brother died. It actually helped me form a community of people who also loved my brother. His friends had a wake for him and I couldn’t go — they put it on Facebook so I could “attend.” 🙂

  4. I wrote about smoking, but Facebook is another good one. Social media in general are hard to quit, because of connections. I burned myself out after a long time of having 2 posts a day, and took a lot of time off. Now here I am, back at it.

  5. I had to get Facebook for a journal at my school. I don’t see how it gets so addicting for people, but maybe I don’t visit it enough. I just check to see if my favourite bands are coming to my city.

    • I think Facebook has a lot of GREAT aspects and I used it for my classes a couple years ago and it was incredible. It was a teaching/learning tool of my dreams, actually. It turned all five of my classes into one HUGE class that exchanged ideas, posted videos, did surveys. But… I have come to understand that compared to many people, I had a “small problem” — but I felt I couldn’t leave. I never played games on Facebook or did most of the other things people do — form discussion groups, for example. It was WONDERFUL when my brother died. It helped me reach out to — and meet! — my brother’s friends, some wonderful people I hadn’t met. For me there was more good than bad, but it just made me feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied.

  6. It’s good to hear that there was something positive for you in Facebook.

    I just feel that “connecting” to people on Facebook hasn’t added to my relationships. The people that matter are the ones I make an effort to see on a daily basis. Commenting on someone’s page doesn’t bring me any closer to that person. Facebook has become a status and I don’t want to be a part of that. I can only say this about myself, because my immediate family and friends are a phone call away. For someone who doesn’t have their loved ones that close, Facebook can be useful.

    I just try to be cautious of social networking in general, because I see the effects t could possibly have on my writing, thinking and reading. I’ve seen some changes in my memory and diction just from texting that I’m not proud of.

  7. i love that Facebook keeps me “connected” to people, but it truly does. but i’d like it to be only CERTAIN people and not just random people that i chat with at a party….. you get home and they’ve already friend requested you- i’m sure you understand.
    my major issue with Facebook is people needing to vent about TV- i don’t get that. i want to hear what my friends are doing- what they are reading, art they are working on- but i HATE that people will just post whatever tv show they are watching and then post their opinions the whole way through. it makes me want to scream. tv is NOT life. it hurts my heart.
    of course- me venting on your page isn’t better i suppose. *lol*

    • It’s the constant “venting” on Facebook that I found the most annoying thing about it. It actually caused me to lose a real life friend (not much of a friend, ultimately, I guess). She got into a discussion on my wall with one of my friends — about male circumcision! No one even disagreed with her. After days of this, I jokingly wrote, “Friend X and take this to your own wall…” That was that. Other friends (real life friends) have ended friendships of more than 30 years because of political postings on FB. I do not think that would have happened if there were no FB. And yeah, venting about TV is really, really annoying and you wonder, “What happened to these people?” The articles I’ve linked in this post discuss this, too.

      • i always try and figure out how to increase the positive of Facebook and erase the negative (or at least decrease it.) my bf is trans- and it’s nice to have a community of support for that, and i have “met” some great trans people that due to not being out in their day to day lives- have the benefit of being able to reach out to others and “be themselves” even if it’s just via computer. it’s great to be a part of those connections, especially when you know how lonely some of them are.
        but then— the tv reviewers and movie critics, and the football game commentators…. cringeworthy.
        i miss the days of livejournal. maybe i’ll go back to that.
        i’ll be checking out more of your stuff! thanks for bringing up the whole fb thing and making me think about how to handle it differently.

      • You’re welcome! The community aspect of FB can be great. Dealing w/my brother’s death would have been much more difficult for me without FB.

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