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There’s a good chance you’ve had your fill of Facebook, the social media platform created by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. Of course, the platform has changed plenty since then, adding features, targeted ads, and a lot of users — though that might be changing. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has given thousands of internal documents to the media and testified before Congress about how the platform knew it was being used to spread misinformation and hate but tried to hide that evidence. And that came long after research company Statista found that 45% of users considered leaving Facebook in the third quarter of 2020, and almost 2 million users per day were actually leaving. I joined the opt-out crowd and quit Facebook cold-turkey for a month. This is what I learned.
I Slept Better
I had followed many of the tips suggested to help you sleep, including black-out curtains and even blue-light filtering glasses, but I still had one, sleep-robbing vice — scrolling through my Facebook feed before bedtime. While the change wasn’t immediate (I’m sure I kept myself awake wondering what I was missing), after a week or two I found myself drifting off to sleep sooner than I had been, and with less tossing and turning, too.
I Wasn’t as Stressed Out
Granted, the political climate, global warming, and a pandemic do not make for a relaxed state of mind. But turning to social media for support wasn’t the answer, either. Generic memes offering encouragement did nothing to take my mind off of current events, and plenty of people I knew posted about world problems or their own concerns, which only added to my list of worries. By eliminating doom scrolling, I felt better about life in general almost immediately. I also got a subscription to the e-version of the New York Times, so I didn’t worry about losing touch, either.
I Didn’t Feel Spied On
There has been a bevy of reports about how Facebook quietly sells access to you to companies hoping to sell you stuff, which has made the website and its stockholders very, very wealthy. In 2020, the company brought in $86 billion, up from over $70 billion the year before. While I’ve taken the steps outlined in Consumer Reports to make my information less accessible to the company, not going onto the site at all was a good first step to feeling like the site was taking advantage of my eagerness to watch cat videos.
I Completely Forgot Birthdays
I realized pretty quickly that I had come to rely on Facebook to remind me when a friend’s birthday was around the corner. But I also realized that using the app to offer a bland “Happy birthday!” wasn’t all that special anyway. I’ve managed to add the birthdays of close friends to my phone and calendar, and have taken the time to call people to wish them well. The results have been far more satisfying.
I Signed Up for More Newsletters
One thing I did notice was that I no longer received updates from people and companies I followed on Facebook, which may have reduced the amount of sales messaging I had to sift through but also silenced some voices I missed. It turned out that the solution was an easy one — most offered weekly newsletters and signing up was as easy as visiting a website.
The Pandemic Changed Nothing
When life as we knew it became locked down, I realized I may need to drop into social media (and specifically Facebook) just to check on my friends as well as local COVID-19 levels. While a few people I knew did get COVID-19, they recovered fully (thankfully) and I didn’t learn much about local virus trends. Despite my belief that Facebook would be a needed point of connection, I still felt I read more ads and slogged through too many reposted memes instead of finding actual information. It wasn’t worth it.
I Had Some Regrets …
Unfortunately, I didn’t see what some of my friends were up to while I was gone. I didn’t see pictures of their kids, their vacations, or their latest jobs. I’m sure I missed good story ideas and sources, too.
… But Then Again, Too Few to Mention
Before leaving Facebook, I left a post inviting people to contact me via email and to let them know I probably wouldn’t be checking my Facebook account. Thanks to the pandemic, that didn’t result in a flurry of IRL plans, but I did end up reconnecting (via email) with friends I hadn’t spoken with in months. More importantly, no one blamed me for ditching Facebook, and several mentioned they were thinking about doing the same.
Will I Delete or Keep Facebook?
While I am reluctant to delete my account entirely, as I still have photos and messages I’d like to keep, my Facebook diet has largely stuck. Occasionally (once or twice a month, on average), I’ll open the site to see if there has been big news from a friend worth noting, but never stay more than 20 minutes — a big change from my nightly hour-long check-ins. I’m happy to say I don’t miss it, and I’m not sure what Facebook would have to do to lure me back. Maybe more cat videos …
Article written by Liane Starr for Cheapism©