Life After Facebook

3.20.2013

Preface: Since I am the most guilty of not reading long posts that don't include photos, I've included some of my Facebook profile pictures strewn throughout. This is: narcissistic, a great way for you to see my obsession with animals, and an accurate documentation of how often I gain and lose weight in my face. ENJOY!

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In 2006, I'd heard from a high school friend up in Ohio that there was this cool thing called, "The Facebook." I was at the University of Kentucky in the dorms at the time. Quickly, I discovered that it was already present amongst my own campus peers and I joined. I don't think that I knew anyone initially. It seemed entirely normal to just add strangers as friends? In retrospect, I am not sure what the fun of that was. Not to mention, it was really, supremely awkward to see each other on campus and acknowledge our online acquaintanceship by way of furtive glances. I've always loved being a part of "the fun new thing" that people love. THAT'S GOOD AND BAD, BY THE WAY.


I remember the beginning, but I don't remember when I started to get tired of it. My love and hate for Facebook ebbed and flowed. Sometimes it bred discontentment in my life when I was in a difficult season. Most often it was comforting to me to see how my friends and family were doing. Most of the time, I'd lose count of how often I'd check it throughout the day. When I realized I could disappear from time to time by deactivating my account, it always felt like a breath of fresh air. Initially, there were a couple of days when I'd have to learn a new routine without Facebook - but I'd always end up enjoying it.

The most obvious of solutions would be to "just set boundaries and look at it less." I think that's brilliant and there are many people more disciplined than I am that exhibit such self control. I, however, tend to require more radical severance in order to produce change. Moderation is something I'll be trying to figure out for the rest of my life, because I have a tendency toward the extreme in a lot of situations.


Eventually, I realized I was friends with a lot of people I have no contact or interaction with in real life (or at least not anymore). The people I really wanted to keep up with were the people I would just call, text, or email. I'd compulsively check it on my phone and leave knowing random facts about a person's day. There was some freedom in remembering that I don't need to know everything everyone is thinking. It seemed more and more evident that the easiest thing to do was to remove myself.

In November (right around Election Day) I read something on Twitter that said, "Facebook is like the political beaches of Normandy right now." It made me laugh, because it was the best description of the chaos amongst my newsfeed. Everyone yelling about the political victory or injustice they'd faced in the resulting election. This, for some reason, was my turning point. It's when I decided I wanted to get rid of it. Not like deactivate it, but DELETE IT. The best way I could describe it was that it just made my head noisy. I wanted to think about and do other things and no longer have it as an option to distract me. I don't think social media is bad, I just decided I needed to choose which I liked best and figure out a balance from there.


Deleting your Facebook account is no easy feat. It's recommended that you download your archives beforehand, so that you have all of your photo albums and videos, and other info in case you ever wanted to join again. When you download your archive ---  there are records of every time you've logged in and out of Facebook (down to the minute), where you logged in, every wall post, every friend's phone number associated with their account (even if you've opted to not post it publicly), and that's just barely scratching the surface. It wasn't entirely surprising to me how much had been recorded, but it was nice in the sense that I felt more confident in my decision.

I'm interested in what it means to do social media well. It has to be an active pursuit of figuring out the balance. The balance of when to be honest without sharing too much, or making sure you're being as brave in real life as you are when you're on your soapbox sharing an opinion behind a screen.



Here's some of what's different for me now:

Events: I rarely checked those even when I was on Facebook. If there's a party, someone will email or text me. (Or, they don't invite me and I really never knew about it, so whatever).

Birthdays: This one's hard. BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW ANYONE'S BIRTHDAY ANYMORE. Also, it's going to be so sad on my birthday this year when only five people tell me Happy Birthday.

Life Happenings: A lot of people just consider Facebook the free for all and final stop for birth announcements, engagements, and weddings. I am out of the loop on a lot of goings on. "Oh, it was on Facebook" is the most typical response I hear when I am surprised to discover a new and exciting thing about someone. Sometimes I ask Bryan or my friends if anyone is pregnant that I should know about before I run into them and wonder what the heck is going on. I'll admit, I miss that aspect. It was fun to log in and see that someone had posted a sonogram with a smiley faced caption. I love stuff like that.

And let's be honest, sometimes it's just fun to creep on people. (OR AM I THE ONLY ONE?)



What I Don't Miss:

+ Farmville/Bubble Blitz/FourSquare/All stupid game invitations
+ Political rants
+ Status updates like: "GOING TO GO MAKE A SANDWICH, LOLZ."
+ Overlapping social media posts (most of my newsfeed at the end was a lot of Twitter and Pinterest updates).
+ Group messages
+ Poking
+ The endless "I HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK LAYOUT" posts


I don't think Facebook is bad, at all. (THAT'S TECHNICALLY HOW I MET MY HUSBAND). Between a blog, twitter, pinterest, and instagram, I just think it's safe to say I have enough other distractions. SIMPLIFY WHENEVER YOU CAN. Know that if you delete Facebook, you're really not missing much. And if you are, you won't even know about it anyway ;) It might feel like shaving your head at first.

It's been about five months and I still don't miss it. I think I'm doing people a lot of favors, because if I were still on Facebook, I'd probably only be posting photos of my cat and I'd probably be hidden from their newsfeed anyway. It's a win-win situation for all of us.

What has your Facebook experience like?

28 comments:

  1. This post was really wonderful to read for so many reasons. One is that I deleted my account on the same day/minute/hour/wallpost as you did. So, I feel like we're connected. Also, I met James through FB (college but I friended him and bla bla bla). My birthday was two months after I deleted FB and it was hard, because you're right, not everyone remembers and it makes you feel a little less important. But you digress. To conclude this essay, I love all the animal pictures of you - you're a modern day Snow White and your smile is infectious. Thank you for writing it!

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  2. 1. Thank you for all those pictures. I got strangely excited about the animals.

    2. You are obviously right about everything and if I was stronger I would do it. At least I can't get the app to work on my phone. I am 100% certain that my thesis would be fully written now if it wasn't for facebook.

    3. I don't know how we would have tracked down wedding invite addresses if it wasn't from facebook because NO ONE HAS ADDRESS books anymore.

    4. I am deeply disturbed about the specifics of that archive. Deeply. How will anyone our age every run for political office someday????

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  3. Girl, I totally gain weight in my face too. I think we're the same face shape actually. IT'S A CURSE.

    And yeah, Facebook is annoying, but I was tied to my pictures. I didn't know I could download my archives! I feel much better now. It is so cute to see life happenings, but honestly, mostly I look to loathe. I'm like eww that girl from high school is pregnant?? The guy was probably drunk when he met her and then slept with her. In other words, sometimes I'm an awful person and Facebook perpetuates that.

    Also, you lovebirds met on FB?? That is so early 2000's. I need to know the deets.

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  4. I have to admit I love the FB, pinterest, and IG. I don't tweet. I definitely have fear-of-missing-out syndrome, especially since I live a few states away from home and I suck at keeping in touch with people. Also, being the Master Procrastinator that I am, FB helps to keep me in the loop when I should be doing other things (ahem - thesis project). I do have to say that IG is creeping up as my favorite, since I first loved FB for the pics anyways...

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  5. Oh Fran, I've always known I love you, but this just sealed the deal in a whole new way. I feel like I could've written this (though not as wonderfully), and I love that other people understand. I deactivated my profile (I'm terrified of deleting it! what if the stalking urge strikes out of the blue?!) last April. It was one of the best decisions I've made. I've logged back on a couple times to snag a picture or two I didn't have on my computer anymore, but I feel instantly stressed as soon as I sign back on. Just too much information, too many hurt feelings over seeing things I don't want to see, and like you said, it made my head noisy. Plus, my husband deactivated his about a year before I did, so that made it a lot easier. It just felt like a burden lifted once I deactivated it. I used to be scared of missing some important announcement, but I'm ok now with not knowing things and being out of the loop; the people who matter have my phone number and/or read my blog.

    Also, your profile pictures are amazing. I'm a little jealous of that idea.

    I could just hug you right now.

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  6. I feel like the intention behind facebook was great, it made communicating with people so much easier and allowed me to stay connected in an easier way to friends that moved all over for college. What it turned into has been something just gross really. It's such a trap- a trap of comparison and a trap of time. I have sifted through many pictures of people I barely know lamenting that my life is nowhere as cool as theres. That's so unhealthy. My sister deleted her facebook a couple of years ago and I've just felt like the time might be sooner rather than later. I kept it alive in Korea because it was easy for friends and family to stay connected with me, but I've known that I haven't wanted it for a while, it's just a matter of actually doing it.

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  7. I check Facebook constantly! And I'm always disappointed at the lack of anything interesting in my feed.
    I'm curious, when you download your archive, do you get all the photos you've been tagged in? Or just the photos you've downloaded?
    It's crazy what they record... I had to go through my old statuses and wall posts when the timeline showed up because I was single (and apparently immature) when I signed up in 2005!

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  8. I joined in 2007 (I think). I was young when I joined. Like in high school, a friend of mine e-mailed me an invitation. I didn't trust it, but since she was moving away I decided to join. I put in a lot of fake information and my profile pictures was of the Spice Girls, to say the least I didn't trust it! Ha ha. Still don't;)

    I deactivated my account in September of '12, then I officially logged back in and deleted it in October. I did it because it was my first semester of Law School and I would rather spend free time reading something actually worth reading like novels or blogs (like yours:)). It just didn't make any sense to have it anymore. Like you I noticed that a lot of the people I was friends with were people I hadn't talked to in ages or ever, and those who I did want to talk with I usually e-mailed, called, or texted. When I deleted my account for good I facebook e-mailed all of my friends to get there e-mails and make sure I had their correct phone numbers. It has actually been so much better for me not to have it.

    I really felt like Facebook was bringing me down emotionally. With law school and other life stressed, Facebook just seemed like another stress that I was having. I wanted to read uplifting things, and no offense to Facebook users but a lot of the posts are NOT uplifting or inspiring.

    Also, I miss knowing the happenings of what is going on, but at the same time I don't really care. I would rather those people call me to let me know the big news. Facebook is a cop out, and facebook users are not social. This is a way to desocialize yourself from people, and to make relationships almost robotic. I love having relationships that are meaningful. BUT THE birthday thing is REALLY hard to remember! My birthday was last weekend and the people who told me happy birthday were my family (grandparents, parents, sisters, cousins, one of my aunts and her husband, and ONE of my friends). Even further this reminds me that Facebook has allowed people not to think about those in their lives. So sad.

    No Facebook=peace of mind.

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  9. I love that I clicked the link from Elizabeth's site and this was your post. I've been wrangling with whether or not to get off of facebook all together, and every point you made is valid. It just makes me nosy, and not for any other reason than to be nosy. I don't post updates, or pictures or converse with anyone on there that I don't know in my real life. I had taken the app off my phone when I realized I was checking facebook...in meetings.

    You inspired me, is all. I might just delete. Maybe. Thanks, Fran =)

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    1. I love reading these comments because it seems everyone has been in a love-hate relationship with it anymore. I loved Facebook for the photos, but Instagram really has that covered so I am not so sad about it. It's awkward at first to not have it anymore, but I promise you'll love it eventually!

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  10. I deleted mine and all my friends thought I was crazy! I love not having it. People have to have actual conversations with me now to know what's going on in my life. I find I am hanging out with people a lot more instead of just sitting on my butt reading about them. I'm a big fan :)

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    1. I think we'll be considered crazy until Facebook eventually becomes Myspace. Do you ever feel like Facebook is heading in that direction? Haha I love that element of mystery you have now! That's a great point.

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  11. I'm a total Facebook whore (although games and apps is not something I participate and I hide all those from my friends) but I still enjoyed this post. I completely understand people who delete Facebook, or other social media. It's the best way that I stay in touch with my family overseas so I can't let it go completely but it's always nice to sit back and think, "WTF am I doing on here all the time!?"

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    1. Hahaha "WTF am I doing on here all the time" is a really accurate description of my experience. I think if my family didn't read my blog I might not have deleted it, because it was a good way to keep up to date with out of town family. BUT THERE'S ALWAYS EMAIL, YOU KNOW?

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  12. I had to significantly scale back my facebook use. I hid people who I was tired of seeing their newsfeeds, but would notice if I deleted them, and I don't check it everyday. I actually didn't have the app on my phone until a few months ago. So I only check it when I'm on the computer. I'm much happier not being so involved in it. My husband deleted his account for a few months, but people kept messaging me to talk to him, so he came back, but neither of us are active facebookers and are both happier. It takes a lot of courage to delete your facebook to make your real life happier, so good work.

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    1. It's funny how many husbands deleted theirs first! Bryan hardly ever signs on. I think I admired that and realized how much he didn't care. Sometimes I think it's as simple as women being more emotionally invested in situations beyond our own life. Does that make sense? Anyway, deleting it from your phone makes a world of difference. Plus, you'll still get lots of Happy Birthdays :)

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  13. I, too, have deleted my Facebook account. It was a process of deactivating, coming back, deactivating, coming back, etc. It wasn't until I started my Masters program in Communications (and a sermon Robert Cunningham on social media) that helped me to articulate this yo-yo relationship. I agree, social media is not bad or sinful, but since we are sinful creatures we can easily use things in a way that isn't beneficial to us or glorifying to the Lord. It was fascinating that both my schooling and the sermons said the same thing using different lingo (e.g. "downward social compare," "jealousy," "judging," "displaying an unrealistic or idealist self-image" etc.). I recognize that this might not be a struggle for others, but it was for me. I have lots of thoughts on this, but I'll stop here. I don't want to get nerdy and start talking about "research findings." All that to say, I deleted mine a few years ago and have no desire to get it back.

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    1. Waahhh, email me that sermon you're talking about! I would love to listen to it. You had me at research findings ;) I am the same way, though. A lot of yo-yoing on a continual basis for me.

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  14. I would love to put the ix-nay on the Facebook distraction! ..getting closer, just not there yet. I'm rarely on it but the keeping in touch part is the toughie. A few friends of mine went on an 'only family Facebook' thing but I can only imagine the upkeep in constant declining and explanation via message!? Anyways, I will absolutely come back and read this when the day has come :)

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    1. I can't emphasize enough how long of a road this decision has been for me! Some people are much better at Facebooking than I am ;) I like the idea of a family only one, though -- I think it would make me nervous that I'd use that as my primary source of contact out of laziness.

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  15. Just found your blog via E Tells Tales :) I can't tell you how much I would love to delete my facebook and just be done with it, but it's a huge part of my job, so I'm kind of stuck. Maybe someday..

    Also.. I just read through several of your posts and I love your sense of humor :) I'm adding you to my blogroll!

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    1. Girrrrl I am so glad! She's a gem. I'm happy you'll stick around. I contemplate having a Facebook page for my blog one day, but am enjoying not dealing with it for now. It is really beneficial for businesses and in your case provides livelihood so there are some definite pros :)

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  16. It's so frightening scary how much facebook has grown from where it began. I find that blog reading takes up a huge amount of my chillax time. But that's okay cause it means I can read fun blogs like yours!

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  17. It sounds like you really should have just pruned your friends. A few times a year, I go through my FB and if I wouldn't recognize the person at a party, I delete them. Or if I'm being more strict, if I wouldn't talk to them if I randomly ran into them at a party, I delete them. (Although usually I just hide them from my newsfeed until they fade from my memory and make the cut the next time I'm pruning.)

    But if you're happy with your decision, then more power to ya!

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  18. Wow! I can't believe they have all that info to archive, that's nuts! I don't think I want to know all my log-ins? Anyways, my husband and I would probably give it up if we didn't live overseas. It seems like our link to what's going on, even with our families! We don't use it much though - the birthdays would definitely be tough!

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  19. I feel ya girl! I went on FB for a year (the first year I was married) and it was marvelous! It helped me declutter my life, and all the noise and voices I was hearing, and help me focus on the beauty right in front of me with people and God and needs right before my eyes. LOVE this post! Love from Nepal, Katie

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  20. So...I'm just now reading this because apparently my blogger stopped notifying me of when you update your blog, so I need to figure that out. But, I totally can relate to this. I have pretty much stopped signing in to facebook and I love it. I should probably just go ahead and delete it, but I have this fear that I will end up missing something because of it. But really, I should just do it. This post may have pushed me over the edge to finally just delete it. Or...maybe I should just drastically cut down the number of friends so it only keeps up with the ones I actually talk to in real life. We'll see what happens!

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