Wednesday, July 13, 2011

why i quit facebook.

Last week I needed the email address of a friend, and I went to the only source I knew wouldn’t fail me: Facebook. (Sad, isn’t it?)

I logged on to my husband’s account and found myself falling into the same patterns I had developed months ago when I chose to delete my own Facebook account. I grabbed my friend’s email address, yes, but I also meandered through long-lost acquaintances’ photos. I scrolled through a day’s worth of random updates — so and so bought a house, so and so had a baby, so and so had Subway for lunch — and noticed the multitudes of people who waste away their hours purchasing fake farms and indulging in rather bizarre mafia wars.

As the minutes passed, I felt those familiar feelings of frustration, resentment, irritation, and jealousy bubbling up inside.

It’s difficult to admit publically that something as insignificant as a social networking site brings out the absolute worst in me.

But it’s true.

And that’s why, after offering up my Facebook time as a Lenten sacrifice for a couple of years, I chose to give up Facebook completely this past March.

I don’t regret it, not even a little bit.

Sure, I know Facebook can be a useful tool. You can share photos, keep in touch with long-distance family and friends, schedule events, and share funny videos and favorite articles.

But after months without it, I’ve begun to think that Facebook actually does a lot more harm to relationships than it does good. With news about babies and houses and jobs and marital statuses, social networking can create a false sense of intimacy and lead to pretty lazy communicating. You don’t have to carry on full conversations anymore: Instead, you can click a thumbs-up signifying just how much you “like” the fact that the guy who sat next to you in college English class got a new job.

Quitting Facebook hasn’t made me call people more, nor has it inspired me to answer all of my emails in a timely manner. But I have noticed that I can genuinely ask people how they’re doing and not already know their answer based on their hourly updates. I have more time to write notes and cook meals and send emails. I no longer am curious about what my high school classmates are up to, nor do I spend hours wondering why I wasn’t invited to a party I never would have wanted to be invited to in the first place.

I know these feelings are my own fault. I know that Facebook isn’t evil and that there are plenty of other mediums that can be just as detrimental to human relationships.

But for me, Facebook was by far the worst.

Through blogging, I’ve met creative, spiritual people who inspire me and uplift me (and if I ever find myself becoming jealous or frustrated while reading a blog, I delete it from my Google Reader, simple as that). Many of us have formed true friendship and relationship. Blogging helps me stay in-tune to the ideas of others, and it inspires me to be better.

Facebook wasn’t doing any of that.

Facebook became frustrating and draining and impersonal. Perhaps I could have solved the problem by doing a purge of my hundreds of Facebook “friends.” Maybe by setting a limit on who I friended and why would have helped.

Instead, I chose to deactivate my account.

Sometimes, I miss it. I miss seeing the baby pictures and keeping in touch with friends from college.

But the benefits far outweigh the things I miss.

I no longer worry about who invited who to dinner, nor do I have to read the exhausting wall-to-wall exchanges created by individuals who refuse to pick up the phone. I don’t spend endless hours speculating on who’s dating who or what someone’s cryptic, passive-aggressive status means. I no longer compare my life to the lives of long-lost acquaintances who can somehow afford European vacations and houses with marble countertops.

Life and friendship and relationship are hard enough without throwing impersonal communication and unrealistic expectations into the mix.

I’ll admit: Those first few weeks without Facebook were rough. I felt kind of left out, like an outsider looking in.

But now?

Ignorance is bliss.

My in-person friendships have grown and developed, and I discovered that my life is already full without trying to cram it with more-distant-but-falsely-intimate relationships.

And guess what?

People still, somehow, get a hold of me if they need me. They call, or comment on this blog, or text, or email. I think we’ve lied to ourselves, thinking that we can’t get off of Facebook, because then we won’t have anymore friends, and no one will ever make plans with us again.

It’s simply not true. (And what kind of life would we be leading if it were?)

Sometimes I find myself confused in conversation because the girls in book club are talking about something one of them posted on Facebook. But they quickly catch me up, and all is well. I survive.

My life did not end when I quit Facebook. Instead, I think it got better. At the very least, that simple act of quitting has helped me to become better.

And that’s enough reason for me to stay off for a very long time.


P.S. -- I found another really good blog post on quitting Facebook here. I think she puts it perfectly.


Mikela Melakis said...

It's so weird you posted this! I've been resenting my own facebook account. I've been out of the country and the first thing I did when I got back was check my facebook. I felt so irrated by all the trash people post, and more so with myself for getting so sucked into reading it. I contemplated for a second what would happen if I got rid of mine, but then dismissed the idea. Now I think I'm really going to consider it.

monster cakes said...

Yes! I hate facebook for the same reasons (Just for myself, not that it's bad in entirety). I might as well delete it because I only go on once a month or so. My true friends know never to get a hold of me via facebook. haha Well said Annie! This may have been the push I need to delete mine as well. : )

Staley Mc said...

I totally agree with you about Facebook. The only reason I still have it is because a lot of people use it to communicate when doing group projects at school. I plan on deleting mine when I graduate.

chet said...

"I no longer compare my life to the lives of long-lost acquaintances who can somehow afford European vacations..."

this has really, legitimately been getting me down lately. but then how do I keep up with my kids in Memphis!? Or where would update my witty one-liners?

I really want to purge myself of it. Let's talk over lunch.

Brooke Bailey said...

Annie!I didn't realize you deleted your facebook. "ignorance is bliss". This post summed up exactly how I feel about it. I've been facebook free for months now and couldn't be happier!

Anonymous said...

you basically summed up 100% of why I quit.
and eloquently at that.

love you, annie.

TefMarie said...

I went a year without it and loved it. Now I've been back on it for a year and realizing how much I didn't need it then helped me to live better with it now, if that makes sense. I guess that means not being addicted to it.

Good for you! If its a hindrance it is definitely better to just cut it out. Thanks for the post.

Erika Lee Sears said...

I have been thinking about quitting facebook too- its too personal I think for me.

sherri lynn said...

I dislike Facebook for all of the reasons you've posted! I have thought many times about deactivating my account. Yet I keep it open, mostly to see pictures of my nieces and college friends' wedding pictures. I think I will eventually get rid of it completely, but for now I try to limit myself for a couple of minutes at a time, checking in only on the people I really do care about and refusing to let and jealousy begin to rise!

The Waits said...

recently, i was off of facebook for about a month ( my computer broke) It was one of the best months of my life! ( yes it was hard for a few days, but i got over it) The other day, i told a friend that if i had to go without facebook or blogging..i would quit facebook! Blogging is way more personal! I actually get to journal so many things.
Thanks for writing this post, i really enjoyed it.

Days Careen said...

I agree facebook has become the way people 'know' each other now and that's a shame. In the past I have deactivated my account for a while for the reasons you have outlined, especially the comparing your life with others and how easily facebook lets you do this, does not help feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.

Also status updates that seem to give a second by second account of a person's life, their so busy updating their status their actual life is passing them by!
Your words have inspired me to think about deactivating again, I definitely get more meaningful things done without facebook.

Annie said...

this is exactly why i got rid of my facebook. because of the pettiness and drama and jealousy. it was ridiculous and stupid and drove me crazy.

i have to admit another motivation was someone i knew who spent and spends almost all of her time on facebook. and i realized i didn't want to be like that - i didn't want to share every aspect of my life and didn't want to have a compulsive need to be on fb all the time. i wanted the freedom to step away.

so i did. permanently.

samecookiesdifferent said...

You´re all so right, but there are also advanteges, for example the fact that you can find -nearly- everyone there...

But a good reason to give thoughts to this whole fb stuff...

visit the cookies blog
...and follow if youu love to <3

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this blog any many levels. First of all you are an excellent writer. Second, you share insights that are thoughtful and thought provoking through written word and thirdly, I know you examine your life and strive to have a closer walk with Him.
I may have been lucky in not feeling jealous on fb but, I did notice time was wasted and reduced my use. I will take your thoughts and commit to only checking fb on a monthly or quarterly basis going forward.


Rona said...

I hate that I wasted so much time on facebook before I finally realized a simple fact. It was ruining my self esteem and confidence. It was hard at first as many have admitted but 2 weeks have past and I feel a renewed interest in what I once thought was mundane. Thanks so much for sharing this. Hopefully you will help others who may be on the fence. Love your blog!