Many of us have considered breaking up with Facebook, but it’s hard to live without likes. I fully recall the day I decided to create a Facebook profile. It was still in its public infancy. I admit I was part of a mass migration from MySpace, another social networking site that was slowly dying. I had friends abroad who had also joined and this seemed like a great way to bypass expensive phone bills and massive time differences. I was also involved in modeling and local theater and its a great way to connect with others in the industry.
Fast forward to 2018. My friend’s list had ballooned 5,000 friends and over the last year, I’ve been chipping away at removing all the people I barely know. You know the type, the person I met once at a party, the friend of a friend I haven’t seen in five years. There is the co-worker I had lunch with ten years ago and the other members of a long-ago wedding party. I fully admit, I was not selective when I added them.
Over the years, Facebook has changed dramatically. Maybe I was naive, but I thought Facebook was a way to connect with others, but that’s not what it became. Facebook has become a cesspool of negativity. I don’t think I even realized just how it had been affecting me. Here are a few things I noticed about how Facebook affects us negatively and how I solved it by breaking up with Facebook (at least temporarily).
It Dehumanizes Us
You wouldn’t think that would be the case, do you? After all, it’s supposed to connect us. But what I have found is that I speak to my friends less regularly. I don’t pick up the phone and call them. I see pictures they post and so I feel connected in the moment, but really, I’m not. I found that after 10 years on Facebook and nearly 5,000 friends (at one point), I only had a couple of friends that I actually checked up on or that bothered to check up on me. We aren’t meant to interact with people from behind a monitor. You can’t expect to build lasting relationships by yourself with a keyboard. Get out and see your friends. Quitting Facebook has caused me to be more intentional about my friendships.
It’s a Time Burglar
We all know social media can be a time waster. Sometimes that’s exactly why we use it. Scrolling your news feed is an easy way to pass time while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting for your kids to get out of school and in the car. I admit that it was the first thing I’d do after waking up. I’d grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and scroll. But there are far more productive things you can do with your time. I was shocked to discover how much time I spent on social media. I felt like I had so little time to get things done and it was true. I wasted a lot of time being unproductive on Facebook. Now I utilize that time with prayer, chores, working on my blog, and most importantly, spending time with my kids.
It Can Set the Tone for How You Feel
As I mentioned above, I looked at Facebook when I first woke up. Because of that, I noticed recently that it often set the tone for how I felt. The day I broke up with Facebook, the first few posts I saw were deflating. The first link was about a five-year old who had been beaten and burned by his mother. The second was the beating of a black man. Five posts were about the Kavanagh hearing and seven others were political themed rants (from both sides of the aisle). Two posts were venting over some negative issue in someone’s life and two posts were about a friend or family member that died. The first twenty posts or so were all negative. It completely obliterated my happy mood.
Maybe you think I’m overly sensitive. How many times have you seen a post and been offended by it? We should be slow to offend and I certainly am not suggesting that we bury our head in the sand and ignore bad things. But what we view, what we read, what we put in our minds affects us and we should be both vigilant and selective with what we surround ourselves. Negativity is infectious and toxic.
It Affects Our Empathy and Sensitivity
The one thing I hate most about Facebook is that it has become a political platform. I’m as opinionated as the next person, but I hate that nearly half the posts in my news feed are politically charged. It is very easy to argue with someone when you don’t have to face them. People get down right nasty to each other. They say things to each other on Facebook they would probably never say to each other face to face. I admit, I am guilty of this – and I don’t like it. It’s disappointing, but I became a cocky, self-righteous, little jerk on Facebook when I disagreed with something. I actually lost friendships over it. There is a time and place to have those kinds of discussions, but I’ve become convinced Facebook isn’t the place for it.
You Can Become Addicted to Virtual Validation
Honestly, this is a tough one. It’s tough because I never realized that this actually affected me until I left Facebook. My first week or two away, I had the constant urge to post when I did something fun or something awesome happened to me. You see, as much as I hate to admit it, I am addicted to validation from friends online. The acceptance of others made me feel good about myself. I cringe just writing that. I didn’t know it, but Facebook became an emotional crutch for my insecurities. Leaving Facebook, has caused me to explore the root of insecurities and deal with them in a healthy way. The problem with using virtual likes for self-esteem is that it is never enough. You’ll need constant validation and not receiving it throws you into a depression. Likes don’t define your value. Learn to live without likes.
It Creates Unrealistic Expectations
Some people use Facebook like a diary, vomiting every emotional thought they have and while that is exhausting, there is something more dangerous. There are some people, myself included, who use Facebook to post only the good and exciting things that happen. I did it intentionally, not because I was hiding anything, but because I wanted my page to stay positive. But there is a problem there too. Comparison. I’m not an envious person, but I surprised myself when a good friend of mine built a dream house. I have a nice house and yet seeing his, left me feeling…well…dissatisfied.
Whether we care to admit it, we compare ourselves to other people. Seeing other people’s vacations, homes, new cars… all those status symbols can cause you to feel cheated and dissatisfied. Life feels unfair because you don’t have as much fun or have nice things. It might make you feel like a bad mother because you don’t buy organic produce, cook from scratch, do crafts with your kids or breastfeed. Maybe it makes you feel like your marriage is lackluster or that your spouse isn’t attentive enough. Comparison causes us to have unrealistic expectations about how our life should be. It kills gratitude and robs you of joy. Facebook is often a highlight reel, carefully editing out problems, failures and setbacks. Don’t believe it. It isn’t real.
It Stops Us From Being Present
When I was younger, I left home with nothing more than a suitcase and lived abroad in Europe. It was the best experience. This is back in the 90s before cell phones! In my youthful ignorance, I never even thought to bring a camera. That’s right. I backpacked all throughout Europe without ever taking a single picture – and I survived! I have amazing memories and stories from my years abroad all perfectly captured in my mind.
Fast forward to 2018, where I can barely eat a meal without taking picture. I went back to Italy for my honeymoon in 2013 and I spent nearly the entire trip behind a lens. I seriously regret that. Being present is way more fun. Taking in every detail with your eyes and mind is so much better. I was happier before we experienced it behind a cell phone camera lens. Enjoy the moment. You miss things otherwise.
What I Learned
It’s been a while since I broke up with Facebook. I didn’t deactivate my account. Instead, I deleted it from my devices and I logged out so it requires effort check it. I learned I can survive without friends knowing what I’m doing every day. I now fill the hours with much more fun and productive things. I don’t need likes to feel worthy and secure. I have everything I need and I’m grateful for what I have. If you’re looking to take a break from social media either temporarily or permanently, take a look at my 30 Day Social Media Detox Challenge coming this Saturday!
Living Without Likes: How I Broke Up With Facebook first appeared on www.mybeautifulmess.net
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