It was about a year ago when I gave up Facebook. Many people thought I could not do it. In fact, many thought it was just a phase I was going through (some still do). I never understood what was so crazy about the idea of giving up Facebook. I lived most of my life without it. Yet, giving it up irritated people. In fact, many are still irritated by this blog that I created shortly after deactivating my profile. Many people refuse to even look at this site as they know that they could never give up Facebook. The truth is that they are addicted to it, no matter what they say to the contrary.
I have always believed at looking and considering information that I do not agree with. In fact, I have found that, after looking at something I was against, my thoughts on that matter would sometimes change. Being open to differing opinions is something that allows one to grow. Of course, there are some differing opinions that I will never agree with. That does not mean I should ignore contrary information or challenge my views and beliefs. Even the most ardent supporter of Facebook may realize that the site is not everything is it cracked up to be if they considered some time away from it.
With that being said, I am immensely glad that I gave up Facebook a year ago. I have accomplished a great amount without Facebook. These things include progressing through graduate school, writing a book, creating a travel blog, gaining work and internship experience, writing a great deal of short stories, saving and investing money that I earned from my own projects, and visiting a few new areas of the world. I have focused my attention on school and my professional life instead of focusing my attention on Facebook. I found that instead of spending time worrying about what others thought of me, I was absorbed in my own goals and family. Instead of spending time on Facebook, I spent time with my wife and pets. I do not say this to brag. Instead, I say it to show that I accomplished much without Facebook -- and I know that anyone can do the same. A year ago I spent most of my time looking at Facebook and comparing myself with others. I wondered what others were doing. I wondered if something I said would somehow offend someone. And it often did. I lamented that people would often say things, sometimes horrible things, that were contrary to who they held themselves out to be. I cringed as political discourse turned ugly and individuals started attacking each other merely for their own beliefs. I had little time to focus on my own life when I was literally wrapped up in the biggest waste of time that has perhaps ever been created (with the exception of the television, but even the television can provide something of value and be quite educational).
One year ago I had an "aha! moment." I didn't make a big deal about leaving the site. There was no, "I am going to leave Facebook, so say your goodbyes." I just deactivated it without telling anyone. The questions and comments from others eventually came to my e-mail or to my ears. That's right. People actually talked to me through means other than Facebook. However, as a whole, I lost contact with most of the people who I was friends with. Even certain family members. I realized that I was only seen as a friend by certain people through Facebook. Although that was somewhat hard to get used to, I was better off knowing this and getting used to that fact. After all, before Facebook came along, I talked to very few people who were on my "friends list" and life was fine. Once I left, I realized who my true friends were, and who those people were that wanted to stay in contact with me. It was a very small number of people.
However, being away from Facebook made me less popular with a select group of people. Some people looked at me as if I was strange. As if I had horns growing out of my head. "Why would he leave Facebook?" they would question. "What is wrong with him?" some would say. "Is there some devious purpose to all this?" Some people would try to get me on LinkedIn, but I resisted at all costs. In fact, I found that I was able to gain a great deal of work experience even by not being on LinkedIn (more on this later). I realized that (a)social networking internet sites (and such sites are asocial in every meaning of the word) were largely a pointless and useless endeavor (with very few exceptions).
|There exists so much more beyond Facebook.|
After a year of being away from Facebook I cannot say that I feel that I am missing anything. I am constantly reminded of the site by others. Generally these are people who seem unhappy with their lives; and I believe that part of the problem is their addiction to the site. While not everyone who uses the site are addicted, I would venture to guess that a majority of the users of Facebook (those who maintain a profile and keep it current with their lives) are addicted. Addicted is not something that people want to be labeled as, but the reality is that Facebook is addictive. It is a virtual world where one can literally be whatever they want to be. One has access to the lives of many people. One can make themselves seem as great as they want to be. That in itself is a very powerful idea. There is no wonder that such a thing can be addictive. Some people will spend hours a day on Facebook and come away somehow believing that they are not addicted. Instead, they consider their behavior normal. Sadly, such behavior is normal for many. It was for me, and I knew that when I left over one year ago. To reactivate my account would be to tread on dangerous ground. Luckily, each day I am more and more sure of my choice to have left. This blog, as a journal of my life without Facebook and as an observer of (a)social network addiction is a testament to that. I only need to review what I have written to remind myself that my life without Facebook is more full than it would be on the site. If I can help even one other person find the freedom and joy of a life without (a)social networks, then this blog has served a greater purpose. I look forward to spending another year free of (a)social networking.
Have you recently left Facebook? Have you considered going back? If so, did you give in to that temptation? If you are considering leaving Facebook, or have given it up, post your thoughts below.
Serious about giving up Facebook? Check out our new checklist of Facebook achievements and goals for making giving up Facebook and (a)social media easier for you to achieve.