I've made the decision to try life without social media.
What that really means is getting off Facebook. While I have accounts on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, I rarely visit those sites. But Facebook is different. For some reason, even when I vow not to visit, it draws me in. Calls to me. Compels me to log in and browse my feed. And yet when I do, more often than not I walk away aggravated, not inspired.
So why do I keep going back?
I'm not sure, but it's definitely time to step back and re-evaluate.
I joined Facebook in 2007 to keep an eye on my daughter when she went away to college. In 2008, like many other business owners, I began using it to market my business. I began amassing a huge friends list, accepting friend requests from everyone who sent me one.
For awhile everything was hunky dory. Until it was not anymore.
I'm not exactly sure when things shifted, but shift they did.
Every time I logged on, my feed, inbox, and notifications were overloaded with marketing and promotion. It appeared that many of the folks who wanted to be my friend, really just wanted another person to market to. Shotgun marketing at it's finest. Probably because it was, and still is for the most part, free.
When I began to realize earlier this year that I was more bothered than inspired every time I logged onto Facebook, I made the decision to cut back. I pruned my friends list of more than 5000 people I did not know and kept only friends, family, and people I've actually met or done business with.
Problem solved, or so I thought.
Yes, it cut down on most of the annoying marketing and content in my feed that I really did not care about.
Still, I continued to find myself feeling uneasy after spending time on Facebook. When I asked myself whenever the time I spent perusing what my friends were sharing had enriched my life in any way, more often than not the answer was "no."
Yes, it's great to see pictures of my daughter and her friends, since she's so far away. But we talk nearly every day, and there are other ways to share pictures.
Yes, I suppose it's fun to see what old high school friends are doing. But honestly, I did not hang out with most of them in high school (just knew them) and I have not emailed or picked up the phone to call any of them since reconnecting on Facebook. So it starts to feel like I'm just being a voyeur on their lives 30 years later. And, all I can say is, A Facebook stalker is so not who I want to be!
Yes, I suppose it's fun seeing what other friends or old business acquaintances are up to … but far too often I walk away feeling envious or less-than because they appear to be doing better than I am. Or, the posts scream "look at me" and I find myself asking, Why does Facebook seem to bring this out in people?
Yes, I like finding interesting articles, blog posts, videos, and deals that I would not otherwise know about. But I'm beginning to ask myself if easy access to these things is worth the aggravation Facebook so often stimulates.
I do not know why it bothers me so much.
Perhaps it's tied to my frustration with the business coaching and success industry, and all the research I did when I wrote my book. I learned so much when I took a closer look at the industry, and perhaps I can not unsee what I saw or unlearn what I learned. I also do not like how what I see affects my opinions about other people. I find myself judging them based on what they post, good or bad, and deep down that does not feel good. When people share rants, I find it too easy to jump on the bandwagon … and I'm trying hard to live from a more positive perspective vs. complain about things I do not like. Plus, on more than one occasion, Facebook has come between me and my husband. Did you know more than a third of divorce filings in 2011 contained the word Facebook, according to a UK survey? No, we're not headed for divorce court, but it does make me ask, Do we really need this affecting our relationship?
For all these reasons, it's time to pull the plug, at least temporarily, and see what happens.
I need to step away.
Maybe not forever, but at least for a time. I need to experience life without Facebook. I'm sure I can find other ways to access the information that's important to me. I can subscribe to blog feeds or email lists. I can search Google. And, if I really want to connect with someone or find out how they're doing, I can shoot them an email, pick up the phone, or walk down the street and knock on their door.
Why I'm deactivating my profile and not just taking a Facebook vacation.
I took a Facebook vacation a few months ago. I did not go on the site for weeks. And life was better. But historically Facebook began calling me back. I thought, Oh, I'll just check in once a day. That lasted for a short while, and before I knew it, I was back to periodic checking, and my frustrations were once again rising.
There's something addictive about Facebook. So as with most addictions, I need to be cut off. So when I get bored, or do not feel like working on what I'm working on, I can not, with a quick click of the mouse, hop over to see what's happening on Facebook. If I'm not connected, I can not visit. If the door is locked, I can not open it. It's as simple as that. (I'm going to try keeping my Facebook pages live, and only deactivating my personal profile … but if I find myself unable to resist checking those pages I will deactivate them as well. guess we'll find out!)
Am I worried I'll miss out?
Absolutely. For five years it's been a steady stream of information into my life. A connection with the outside world. A place to share information and opinions. And, seemingly, a view of what people are up to (seemingly, because I know it's only the picture they're going to paint). All from the comfort, convenience, and anonymity of my computer.
But I'm ready to give it a shot.
I'm calling it my Anti-Social Media Experiment.
I do not know how long it will last. But I want to see if, or how, my life changes without Facebook. I want to see if I really need it to stay connected to the people who really matter. I want to see how or if it will affect my blog and my business. And quite frankly, I think it will force me to think of other ways to connect, and market. Ways that may be more effective, but that get pushed to the back burner when it's easier to just hop on Facebook and call it done.
Everyone says you have to be on social media if you have a business or a book. I wonder if that's really true? And, I suppose the only way to find out is to test that theory. So that's another part of this experiment.
And feel free to share this article on Facebook or other social media if you're so inspired. Because as hard as it is for me not to share it, I will not be.