I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but my attempt to live intentionally and move away from the computer has worked a little too well, and I haven't sat down here to write for a long time now. Perhaps I'm compensating for too much time sucked away by this machine.
What do I mean by living intentionally? I'm not really sure. I don't think I could give an adequate definition right now. Maybe I'll need to write about it a bit more later on.
Anyway, as you can gather from the title, I quit Facebook.
The reasons are straightforward. And while there are a lot of reasons that I could explain, I just want to focus on the most important ones.
It was taking up too much of my time.
I'd sit down at my computer to look something up or to study, and I'd have Facebook open in another tab. Before I knew it, I'd spent 45 minutes on Facebook and zero time studying. I tried to cut down on my time on there, but it was useless. Just having it there was too much of a temptation for me when I had to spend time at the computer anyway. Having it on my phone was too much of a temptation for me the rest of the time. I'd wake up in the morning and check my notifications that had accumulated overnight, and by the time that was done, I'd wasted a good half hour of my morning.
It was taking up too much of my emotional energy.
I made a big effort to only have Facebook friends that were actually my friends. I would periodically clear my friends list, removing people whom I didn't want to interact with any more (or hadn't interacted with), and I carefully considered before adding any new friends to my list. Even with these precautions, I had over 100 people constantly updating their various actions every day for me to read. Over time, it became very overwhelming to me to take an active interest in the various happenings of over 100 people. That's not to say I don't care; I do care, and that's probably part of the problem. It was even more emotionally taxing to interact with strangers and to unwittingly become tangled in arguments, disagreements or even just lengthy conversations with friends-of-friends. I'm saying this as an extrovert, so I can only imagine how draining this must be for the introverted type.
It's not a genuine social interaction.
I realised that I had a need to connect with people authentically. And at the same time, I understood that everything written on Facebook is part of a facade. It's also a very lazy way of communicating, and I wanted to live in real life with other people. Whether that meant actually meeting up physically or writing emails, I wanted genuine social interaction and an authentic connection.
It wasn't making me happy.
This is probably the most important point. I was no longer gaining any happiness from Facebook, and in fact, I mainly just felt stressed from it. Waking up in the morning and seeing multiple notifications filled me with a feeling of dread. I didn't want this sense of obligation and responsibility of responding to messages and finding the time to read through all the notifications. At the same time, I could hardly look away. I felt as though I was tied to a treadmill that I didn't want to be on.
I was a very active user of Facebook and my numerous attempts to cut down on my time spent on there were ultimately futile. I understood that I was really no longer in control of the situation and that my Facebook habit was taking me away from my real life and from things that I actually wanted to do. Is it possible to be addicted to a social networking site? I'd say yes, given that I couldn't seem to limit my time spent on there on my own. It was too much of a distraction, it furthered my procrastination.
I'd actually been thinking about leaving Facebook for a very long time. It definitely has its place in society and I don't think leaving totally is the right choice for everyone. It was a lifeline for me when I lived overseas, as it enabled me to stay in contact with friends and family no matter which continent we were on at the time. And for a long time, faraway friends and family were the main reason why I didn't quit. It made it so easy to stay in contact with them. But, eventually my other reasons won out. I decided that I'd let everyone know my contact details so they could remain in contact with me if they wanted to. Are people really likely to send emails in the age of Facebook? Yes, actually, people do. If people want to remain in contact with me they will put in the effort and I will reciprocate.
And what is life like without Facebook? Freeing. Wonderful. Like I've reclaimed something I'd lost. Once Facebook was gone from my life altogether, I felt happy and calm. I was back in control of my life and could live in the present. I did feel a bit sad at first too. Six years of my life have been documented on the site, and I did have some great memories attached to it as well. But I knew the decision was for my own good and after a day or so of wondering what was happening on Facebook without me, I realised that nothing was happening there. Instead, I've filled my time with reading (I have read three novels since quitting two weeks ago), I have found the time to sew some projects I've been putting off for a year (seriously, a year). I've actually gone out and seen my friends. I have a better morning routine and it's easier for me to go to bed at a reasonable hour instead of sitting up, entangled in an online conversation.
I think that leaving the world of Facebook behind was a good step in the direction I want my life to go in, and I think it's something for other people to seriously consider if they feel the same.