Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve been addicted to social media since it has first been around. I was the first one in my friend group to get on Facebook, I jumped onto Twitter basically the day it came out, and my Instagram dates as far back as to when filters still had frames (remember those?). Over the years, I’ve loved using social media to keep in touch with my hometown friends while I was in university, my family while I was traveling or living abroad, and my friends who live all around the world. I loved social media so much, I even started working in social media. In my short career, I’ve managed over 20 social media platforms for my company and our clients, while simultaneously tending to my own. But lately, it’s all started to feel like too much. So I decided to experience life Facebook-free and go off the grid for a bit.
Why did I do it?
A lot of people go off the grid because they have a hard time dealing with the lack of authenticity online. That’s never really bothered me. I know that social media is a highlight reel and not the real deal.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get jealous of everyone’s summer fun. Between photos of my friends at beaches and music festivals and the countless ads for concerts and events appearing in my feed, the FOMO was hitting me hard. My summer started off pretty slow and tame, and when I started to realize it was coming to end and I hadn’t planned anything *~*epic*~*, I panicked. I ended up over-committing myself to vacations, road trips, and countless patio drinks. I was spending way too much money and I was totally exhausted. I knew I had to slow down to regain some control of myself, and I thought going off social media would help.
And then there was that whole election thing. I was so consumed by election coverage (pre- and post-), that I couldn’t think or talk about anything else – and I’m not even American. Logging onto Facebook was a constant reminder of the crushing pain of Donald Trump being made President, and the conversations that followed in the comments sections were hard to bear. I know it’s naive to try to silence difficult discussions or avoid voices I don’t want to hear, but the media obsession with the election (above all other news stories) and the barrage of negativity in my feed began to wear on me.
It all just became too much. Fake news, celebrity gossip, advertisements, events, notifications, and status updates from friends I didn’t even like. What was it all for? I had to take a break.
I decided to do something only the coolest people I know have done: I deleted my Facebook account. But I didn’t stop there, I also deleted my Twitter, my Snapchat, and my Pinterest. I kept Instagram, because let’s be real here, I live for the memes.
At first, I felt refreshed. By deleting my apps, I had freed up some storage on my phone and I didn’t have to look at any more annoying notifications. But then I started to feel twitchy, constantly checking my phone for no reason and feeling like there was something I had to do or look at. I panicked, wondering how I’d know what my friends were up to (until I remembered I could still text them like always). I read the newspaper. I read more books. I started watching Riverdale. I got out of bed much faster in the morning, because I wasn’t scrolling through Facebook for twenty minutes after my alarm went off.
When I decided to log back on a month later, I discovered my grandparents were on a cruise to Japan and no one had told me. But other than that, I really didn’t miss much.
What I learned from the experience is that it’s okay to step away. I love Facebook for the connectedness it provides to my family and friends around the world, and the ability to connect with people in my community through Groups, but the amount of stimulation can be so overwhelming. I did not add the app back to my phone, which has made a huge difference, because I’m not distracted by notifications all day long. Now, I save my Facebooking for the evenings, but I’m leaving some of that extra time for reading (and Riverdale). I do not miss Snapchat. I didn’t get back on Twitter either, and I probably won’t, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use it to obsess over the gossip associated with Taylor Swift’s new album … just for a second.