Back in 2006, I signed up to Facebook as I had family living all over the World and a friend moving to Austrailia so I thought it would be an excellent way to keep in touch. Gradually old friends from years gone by asked me to be their ‘friend’ and I accepted; some sort of curiosity made me do it.
It rapidly spiraled and became time consuming. I’d be on Facebook multiple times a day, posting things and then I’d check in time and time again on ‘friends’ pages. This pattern continued for years and then I finally stopped to question “Why was I on Facebook?”, “What did I actually get from being on Facebook”.
I am married to a man who has never subscribed to social media; we made a decision that our child would never be on Facebook, and if she was, her face wouldn’t appear. We wouldn’t do the ‘my babies dirty nappy’ posts having experienced a barrage ourselves in the past. I love my daughter but I also understand that not everybody wants to hear and see everything that happens to her or us in real time. We also felt that having a baby was for us and not for everyone else and really wanted to get to know our baby in private and shield her from social media until such a time that she wanted to sign herself up to it.
I tried to give up at the point at which my daughter was born but Facebook served me well in the early months; it was a place to find out offers on baby things and local play sessions. It was also a place to chat with friends I’d met along the new baby journey as well as staying in touch with who I used to be before becoming a mother. However, over a year ago I caught myself getting really anxious when I logged into my account and I just thought, “enough”; I left Facebook there and then and haven’t looked back.
Those who think I’m anti-social media, I’m not. I can see how it works for businesses and I know that a lot of individuals enjoy Facebook and can simply take it or leave it. I will readily admit that I have an Instagram account (annoyingly owned by Facebook!), The Woodland Wife is a tiny glimpse into my life here in the woods and is used not as a means of self promotion but as a tool to meet people with common interests and share thoughts on country living, crafts etc. By having this and a private account you’ll see I’m not totally adverse to social media; Facebook was just like a monster to me, it wasn’t healthy and it certainly isn’t something I miss.
This is what I have learned so far since leaving Facebook.
The past is the past
In life, we move around, things change, people change. We are all thankful for good times; during our lives we meet people and share incredible experiences and bonds, however things change, those people that you shared good times with may no longer feel the same about us and vice versa.
Sometimes one has to step away and take some ‘time out’ to re-evaluate friendships but with social media that’s not possible as everyone’s life is out there to see and for me now, I can see my friendships for what they truly are instead of being sucked back into something that was becoming unhealthy for me.
Real friendship survives without social media
It’s in times of trouble or upset that you realise who your friends really are. It’s not about following someone’s social media feed, it’s about picking up the phone and calling or popping over for a good old fashioned catch up, that’s real friendship and thankfully I have friends like these. These friends are also the type of people who don’t set up group invitations on chats or social media for a party; it’s ringing around, texting, making real contact with friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly embrace technology and the changing World; emails, phonecalls and texting, that felt ok but now with the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp and various other platforms, friendship has seemingly become faceless and contactless and I think that is a crying shame. My real friends and I can pick up where we left off after weeks or months apart and it’s as if no time has passed; they don’t need to scroll through various social media platforms to see an edited version of what’s going on in my life, because they know what’s actually going on in my life. If friends don’t respond or check in for a long length of time or in times of need and actually ask the question privately “how are things?”, they really aren’t good friends.
I don’t feel anxious anymore
Before I deactivated my Facebook my heart would literally race when I posted something. The moment it was posted I’d keep checking back for comments or likes; if there were none, I’d wonder why, if there were likes, I’d analyse why a particular person hadn’t liked my post but they had liked someone else’s. This wasn’t normal, sane behaviour. Not only was it making me anxious but the time I was spending worrying about it was time I wasn’t focussing on what really mattered; my daughter and the here and now.
It wasn’t just about what I posted, I grew frustrated with what I would read on my ‘newsfeed’. There was a huge amount of self promotion going on, it seemed as if people were incapable of actually taking time to listen or be content in their own lives. Some were seemingly in a permanent ‘who can shout the loudest’ competition with their ‘friends’.
At the point at which I left Facebook I told myself that if those people wanted to live that way and promote their lives so publicly then that was fine, but that wasn’t what I wanted for myself so I accepted that I just did things differently and I should just focus on what really mattered to me.
Enjoy you and your own life
Contrary to some of the things I have said, it really is ok to focus on you and what’s going on in your life. You don’t have to be selfish and you really don’t have to ram it down people’s throats on social media; you can just see people and catch up in a traditional way but the time once used to spend time on Facebook can be used in so many other, more productive ways.
Go out for a walk, take in a place, a person, a moment in time. Enjoy your family, friends, a pet or a hobby. These are the things that matter and truly are the experiences that shape us as humans. Enjoy your life in the best possible way and really embrace real life as opposed to an edited version of you.
These are just my thoughts, I realise that everyone is different and some people will disagree and challenge my thoughts however I certainly feel better for giving up my Facebook addiction.