After six years, I hit delete and that was it – my Facebook profile was gone once and for all. This is what happened next…
Last year, I was a typical 20-year-old who spent many hours each week spilling the details of my life on Facebook. But, unlike most of the 1.59 billion who use the social media platform regularly, I didn’t like my Facebook friends, I got upset when my status updates and photos didn’t receive likes, and I didn’t enjoy my timeline being constantly flooded with everyone else’s news, which is sort of the point of Facebook.
“Awww flowers from my one true love. I love you!”
“Surprises from the other half! Mwah!”
“Don’t I look hot?” *insert bikini shot with the head cropped out*
At the time, I was already dealing with the pressures of work, family, friends, a boyfriend, and I was also suffering from severe depression and anxiety. Seeing everyone in their happy little lives, getting married, studying hard or at the beach with their beach bodies was doing nothing for me or my self esteem.
There was only one solution to this big mess; deactivate Facebook and never turn back. This is why I did it:
Reason #1: I realised Facebook is the biggest time waster.
On this, I’m sure, everyone can agree. You think you’re only going to check to see whether there’s been any new activity in the last 10 minutes…then, somehow, an hour has gone by and you’ve got a crick in your neck from the awkward position you’re lying in on the couch.
Dr Bhuva Narayan, a senior lecturer in communication from the University of Technology Sydney, told the Newsroom that “Facebook is indeed addictive, just as any other [social] media is.”
“Recall the days when the World Wide Web was new and people spent dozens of hours a day just ‘surfing the internet’ – some did it usefully while others may not have gained much from it.”
I was definitely the latter.
Every moment I had free, I was on the thing. I was scrolling through Facebook more than I was completing hours at work. It got to the stage where I contacted people through Facebook messenger more than I would text or call them, or even seen them face-to-face. That’s one of my biggest regrets. Nowadays, I use my time wisely by exercising, reading, actually with my friends or playing with my dogs! My time is always a good time.
Reason #2: Facebook no longer felt necessary to my life.
Sure, if you plan on using it to keep in touch with friends overseas, or for finding old friends you haven’t seen in years, Facebook is a handy tool. But the jury is out on whether or not it’s a good idea to post the ins-and-outs of your life on such a public forum.
Deleting my profile forced me to go to more effort to pick up the phone and call friends. Now, I’ve grown closer to my true friends, while others have fallen by the wayside. Oh, and I don’t have any creeps trying to add me, which is one of the biggest safety concerns for users.
Dr Narayan advised that if you don’t delete Facebook, you at least need to use it wisely. “You need to be careful about who you add as friends, and what groups you join, or what pages you like. It is also important to create ‘Friends lists’ and curate them regularly, weeding out friends who don’t contribute anything to your conversations or discussions. You can also use this feature to block certain people from seeing certain posts of yours or selectively publish content to a specific audience”.
“One final rule is to never ‘add as a friend’ a person you have not met in person and do not know well. Always use the ‘custom’ option and select who can see your posts every time you post something on Facebook. Do not get carried away in a competition to get increased number of friends. It does not mean anything”.
Reason #3: I realised no one needed to know all the details of my life.
I’m convinced that users don’t read every single post on their timeline. Half of the posts we do skim through, we roll our eyes at because all of this personal information isn’t even relevant to us. Okay, you went to the gym… What on earth could I possibly do with this chunk of information? I didn’t want to be a Facebook attention seeker and I didn’t want to overexpose my life. It’s good to keep a few things to yourself.
For Dr Narayan, there’s a particular type of Facebook post that irks her…
“The most annoying Facebook posts are the so-called ‘vague-booking’ wherein people may write something in public that is targeted at just one other person’s eyes but everyone else is commenting saying “What’s wrong?” That form of attention-seeking is not tolerated much on Facebook”.
So what to do? “If you want to have a private conversation with someone on Facebook, always direct message them rather than tag them, for you do not know how they have set their privacy. It is not just about protecting your own privacy but also protecting the privacy of your friends.”
Reason #4: I knew my mental health would improve.
Some posts in my feed made me feel more depressed and dissatisfied about my life – and I’m not the only one. A study conducted last year by University of Houston found that people who used Facebook more tended to have depressive symptoms. The study’s author Mai-Ly Steers told Forbes.com that “It doesn’t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand.”
“If you [don’t] have the right friends on Facebook, you may be bombarded with content you don’t care about, or content that depresses you,” Dr. Narayan also explains. “Information anxiety is a phenomenon that precedes Facebook and one of the ways of coping with it is information avoidance.
But Dr. Narayan is quick to point out that not knowing things can make you feel left out. “We need to also be aware that this information avoidance can quickly lead to ignorance about our contemporary information society, so a judicious use of Facebook can actually be a positive thing”.
It has now been a year since I deleted my account and I can say it was for the best. I only signed up in the first place because everyone else had and I didn’t want to be out of the loop. What was I thinking? I don’t even remember what it was like being on it.
How you can quit too!
If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, councillor Martin Baker from HeadSpace recommends you wean yourself off slowly. “Maybe say, ‘Okay, I’m not going to go on Facebook this week’ and see if you can last without looking or posting. If you can manage, try to push this out for longer. If you don’t have the willpower to avoid checking, try going cold turkey”.
If you can’t kill Facebook cold turkey, consider making a schedule for when and how long you can sign in for. This way, it’s better than freely jumping on whenever you please. Moderation is key, he added. – Bianca Busuttil
Image by Ben Atkinson-James