My Year Off Facebook

About this time last year I wrote about one of two New Year’s resolutions for 2011: To deactivate my Facebook account for one year.

Below are THE GOALS I HAD HOPED TO ACHIEVE AFTER MY FACEBOOK-LESS EXPERIMENT / the actual result:

-FREE UP TIME TO DO THINGS LIKE READ BOOKS THAT HAVE BEEN STARING AT ME FROM MY BOOKSHELF FOR MONTHS / I did finally read a few of those : Everything Is Illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer), The Feast of the Goat (Mario Vargas Llosa) and started Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie)–all novels that I’ve owned for years and finally picked up because my nightly Facebook visit was no longer allowed.

-KEEP ME LESS INFORMED ABOUT PEOPLE I DON’T EVEN KNOW / And people I do know, for that matter. I could no longer participate in the I-saw-on-Facebook-that conversations, and I was always the last to know who was engaged, who was married and who was pregnant. It was nice. It was like the olden days, before college, when I discovered that type of news by word-of-mouth or a save-the-date or shower invitation. I felt like I no longer knew things I wasn’t supposed to and only knew things people wanted me to know. I was respecting others’ privacy and mine was in turn being respected.

-FORCE ME TO COMMUNICATE WITH FRIENDS VIA MORE DIRECT AND INTENTIONAL MODES OF COMMUNICATION LIKE EMAIL AND PHONE CALLS / I wish I could say I became really awesome at calling my long-distance friends regularly and having actual conversation with them, but I didn’t. I did text them more and follow them more closely on Twitter. Are either of those any more personal than Facebook? Probably not.

Overall, I did not feel socially deprived while off Facebook. What I missed most was seeing friends’ wedding pictures, which was my first order of business when I signed back on on January 1 (around 3am). But other than that, I realized I’m not meant to keep up with 1,100+ people’s lives. Being back on, I’m overwhelmed by all I missed: pregnancies, babies born, new relationships–I can’t handle absorbing all of that information like I used to and I don’t crave that information like I used to. That craving, I’m really glad it’s gone. And it took a full year of purging for it to go away.

Ok, let’s get real, it’s not COMPLETELY gone, but I have a much healthier dose of it. And I’m more inclined to keep up with my friends outside their Facebook walls and inside their real lives.

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14 thoughts on “My Year Off Facebook

  1. Very interesting. I am not sure I could ever rid myself of Facebook completely, but when I lived in China I couldn’t get on at all (the government blocked it) so it was amazing how “out of the loop” I felt. It was good because I didn’t have the constant reminder of life I was missing out on in America. I like to think of Facebook like desserts. Moderation is key:)

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  2. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love it for what it is at it’s core – a simple way to keep in touch with people, share life, pictures, etc at the push of a button. I hate it for people allowing it to be so invasive. Petty arguments, vague statuses that are clearly meant to be directed at a single person, or using it as a method of venting. Those things make me want to sign off Facebook forever…

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    1. I could not agree more. ESPECIALLY about the vague statuses. Those drive me nuts and are not a healthy way to express frustration. I’m afraid FB is making us a more passive aggressive generation.

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  3. I have been wondering how to more effectively manage my time with social media for the reasons you listed. It’s definitely easy to let those things be a time suck, yet they can all add to our lives. There’s no clear cut response but a fast (not a year long one though!) might give me some insights.

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  4. I’m sure you noticed how much more “commercial” facebook has become in one year. Every company and product now has a page and a like button. Even if you avoid those pages, the promotions still seems to intrude everywhere. It would be nice if I saw what my friends are actually doing, but no matter how much I click “important posts only” and hide acquaintances, I don’t feel connected to the people who matter. These days, I just pop in to facebook to check a couple of celebrity pages.

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    1. It has! And the new facebook pages make it look like everyone has a blog 🙂 I guess a blog and facebook page is not all that dissimilar: sharing somewhat personal information on the web…

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  5. Amen! I view Facebook like any other potential addiction. If you are susceptible to addictions…stay away. If you are disciplined enough to keep Facebook in perspective…go for it! But…above all else, guard your heart for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

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  6. All of the books you read are great weeks! Everything Is Illuminated and Midnight’s Children are two of my favorites. I think it’s healthy to pull away from social media…I have found that when I do that, I’m more creative, productive, effective…even if I am the last one to know who got engaged. It really isn’t all that bad. Good for you!
    -MHN

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  7. I really dig this article. for my second lent in a row now I have given up facebook. and even last week my phone broke so i didn’t have bbm or whatsapp. Oh how those things can waste time…

    thanks for writing this. Like father, like daughter (you probably get that all the time) 🙂

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