What happens when you give up Facebook

I Facebook a lot. Too much.  So when I told friends that I was giving it up for lent, they didn’t believe I could do it. I’m not religious but on Pancake Day as I listened to Radio 4 on my drive home and heard about the man, an acoustic engineer, giving up music for lent and recording the effect it had,I started thinking about what I should give up.  I’ve given something up for as long as I can remember from television to bread to chocolate.  This year I thought I’d do Facebook.

I wish I’d kept a diary or recorded my mood or set some kind of scientific criteria so that I could properly record how it affected me, if at all.  But I hadn’t and I only properly decided at about 10 O’Clock the night before so I didn’t have time. Plus I only got around to recording this blog post some time after the event, so…  

I left my profile live, but logged off and slid out quietly without making too much of a fuss.  It wasn’t long though before people started asking if I’d seen this or that on Facebook and I found myself explaining that I wasn’t presently “on Facebook”.

A few days in, I actually felt anxious. Like I was missing something and when I did something that might be a funny status I felt a strange feeling of disconnection.  Butt I perservered.  Some people tried to make me look, Facebook even tried to make me look- periodically sending emails “Laura you have notifications“.  Others asked how they knew I wasn’t silently stalking the newsfeed when no one was looking.  Truth is, you didn’t.  Full disclosure I did send a single message to a colleague who was on a course with me one Monday.  I sent it from the messenger app not the site and gave her my number in that message, explaining that I wasn’t doing Facebook at the minute.

Logistically, not having Facebook causes some difficulties. Like my birthday celebrations being organised as a Facebook event, other people inviting me to things etcetera. But after a week or so not having Facebook was oddly therapeutic.

Truth is, most of the people on my ‘Friends List’ aren’t that at all.  I guess ‘Acquaintance List’ doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.  I don’t care much for baby scan photos, unless you’d have shown me in real life and I really don’t care about attention seeking, bragging or fabricated scenario statements.

It was great not to share my whole life with a few hundred of my closest ex-colleagues, ex-peers, friends of friends, friend’s ex-boyfriends, people I met on a night out once when I was seventeen, people who only talk to me when they want something and people that are only on my friends list because pressing unfriend is too much of a statement (instead, I unfollow now). And for the people that are my real friends, nothing changed.  I spoke to them more, I spoke about more than just what I’d seen on Facebook (which we all do more than we think we do) and my stories were more interesting because they hadn’t already seen the punchline on the internet.

Where I normally stared at my phone screen blankly, I started being more productive.  Lunch time at work was spent doing (semi)useful tasks.  I felt better. 

I feel like this post is pointless without pointing out that I didn’t abstain from all social media and my Twitter and Instagram useage definitely spiked over that 40 days but they seem to have less of an impact than Facebook, I don’t know why.

Friends pointed out that I must really have missed it because I updated my status at 9:21am on Easter Sunday. I was proud I’d done it.  Which is a little odd in itself given that what I’m actually saying is that I’m proud that I managed not to use a certain website for a little over a month.  But in truthfullness, I didn’t miss it all that much after the first week.

I plan to stay off the site much more now, if I feel like I’m slipping back into old habits I’ll leave altogether for a month.  I think it’s healthy.  It’s good not to share every second of your life on the site where people can pass their judgment, be catty, give their opinion.  Likewise, they can be nice.  Leaving you yearning for positive reinforcement more and more. Posting a selfie after five attempts so someone will tell you they like your lipstick or snapping a photo of your new car so that everyone knows you have a new car. I quite liked holding a dignified silence. 

Now let me share this on Facebook and everyone can silently judge me…




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