My friends have noticed that if we hang out for any amount of time, at some point, I'll jovially suggest that they should quit Facebook. I wasn't planning on writing a "Why I Quit Facebook" post. It's pretty self-righteous and there are more than enough of them out there already. I had read a half-dozen such posts before the notion of me quitting Facebook ever even crossed my mind, honestly.
And then, about 5 months ago, I just ...quit. All of my reasons that were huge deterrents before — my long list of well-earned 'friends,' my carefully-curated profile, the peace of mind of being able to message anyone I've ever known — didn't matter. Suddenly, I didn't care.
So I'm writing this because lots of people ask me why I quit, and because I need to clear the air about the way I choose to use social media. I quit because Facebook was wasting my time, yes, and critically, because I wasn't getting any value from it. That's the important takeaway.
What I'm not saying: that I'm better than anyone who chooses to stay on Facebook, or that I don't still actively waste time using social media.
People get awfully defensive about this topic, and call me a hypocrite because I check Twitter endlessly but pat myself on the back for quitting Facebook. And that's all true. Briefly, without making this a post about Twitter, I feel that I get a lot more from it: the content (links, insight, news) is better, the people I follow are more interesting and the short format keeps everything faster-paced. Ultimately, I feel I get out of it as much as I put in.
With Facebook, this stopped being the case several years ago. I've been using it since college in its early days of 2004, and I've seen it change over the years. But I changed, too. My need to stay connected with a bunch of acquaintences I'm not that close with dropped significantly after college and, now, with seemingly everyone I know having even less free time than a few years ago, that need has dropped to zero. I still am just as connected with the people I really care about, through text or email — that hasn't changed.
What I don't miss? Seeing outrage over a local sport result I don't care about (or anything about any sports result, basically). Hearing what a bartender I went to high school with has to say about a current hot-button political issue. Being extra careful with what I share because I know that extended family and a few too many former coworkers might be watching. Yeah, these are all really stupid things to complain about. But it was all bringing frustration into my life ...for what benefit?
As far as I could see, none. I really didn't get anything from it. The negatives, of which there are many, were just too annoying, and there were virtually no positives. Despite the lack of benefits, I couldn't help myself from checking constantly. I'm at a computer a lot, and whenever there's a moment between tasks (or worse, when stuck in the middle of a task), it was so easy to open a browser tab, navigate to Facebook practically subconsciously, and see what new updates there were. Seriously, typing the keys f, a and "Enter" is pretty much muscle memory to me. And when you get to your Facebook feed, it's like tuning in to the world's lamest reality show, but you can't stop watching because you know the whole cast personally. No matter how unsatisfying the updates, I kept checking back.
It was so ingrained into my routine, it felt impossible to quit. But it's not. Actually, it's incredibly easy.
Why you can quit
I always thought, That's great. But I can't quit, because I use Facebook to...
Check in on people you aren't close with and seeing what they're up to. This is only appealing because it's easy and is an easy way to distract you from doing something productive. You'll forget about this pretty much instantly. Quit.
Message people that I never text or don't have their phone number. If you don't have their number by now, you probably will never ever have a reason to message that person. And if you really, really need to, you can likely reactivate your Facebook account and they will all be there*. Quit.
Set up invites to events and parties. Ok for this one I don't really have anything, because a lot of people annoyingly set things up as Facebook Events. I guilt-trip them. Grow up, right? Quit!*Reactivating was my safety net when quitting, but the urge to do it has never once crossed my mind. ** I realize the irony of this post having a 'Like' button immediately beneath this.