Facebook has become so important in our day to day lives. Want to go to your colleague’s birthday party? You need Facebook. Want to see your cousin’s wedding photos? Facebook required. Want to stalk an ex-girlfriend? Not advisable, but you’ll need a Facebook account to get the juicy details. So, what would happen if someone gave up Facebook entirely? Well, I gave it a try. Zuckerberg had enough information on me for my liking, and I decided to delete the whole thing. Not a temporary deactivation, a full-scale deletion. The result? Well, honestly, I’m less stressed, I don’t suffer from the dreaded FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and I feel like I’m better connected to my friends who I now make much more of an effort to see.
At first, it was an uphill battle. Friends asked me why I would do something so ridiculous. People had trouble keeping in touch with me (Facebook messenger was my go-to before the deletion), and some even thought that I had purposely deleted and blocked them rather than getting rid of Facebook. So, admittedly, there were a few set-backs. But after a few months, when everyone I cared about realised and remembered that I’d deleted the whole thing, things got a lot easier.
Keeping in touch was possible through my dumbphone (I got rid of my smartphone too, which I’ve talked about here), people would tell me about their events months in advance because they knew that I wouldn’t see the event on Facebook (and if they didn’t tell me, my close mutual friends who hadn’t ditched Facebook did tell me), and I found that I didn’t really miss the photos of people having the time of their life without me.
Somebody once told me something that stuck with me: when you’re on social media, you end up comparing your ‘behind the scenes’ to everyone else’s highlights reel. People don’t upload that time they had a huge argument with their spouse, they don’t talk about the exams they’ve failed, they don’t post a status about that cringeworthy moment they had at the party that looked oh-so-amazing in the photographs. When I deleted Facebook, I stopped comparing my average experiences to everyone else’s best experiences, and started engaging with other people in the context of their actual lives instead of their glossy, photo-shopped Facebook wall.
Do I recommend ditching Facebook? Absolutely. Start small though, you don’t have to go cold turkey like me. First try deleting it from your bookmarks and deleting the app. Then, maybe cull your friends list so you only end up with the people whose lives you’re actually interested in rather than the high school football team captain who you’ve always felt a bit of Schadenfreude about. Then, take the leap and de-activate for a few weeks. If you can handle that, take the final plunge and delete the whole thing. I did, and I don’t think I’ll be getting it back any time soon.