Less Facebook, More Personal Connection

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Why I deleted the Facebook app from my phone

In late 2017 and in 2018, some of my most productive, relaxed weeks were when I didn’t use Facebook at all. I didn’t open the mobile app, and I didn’t visit the website from my laptop. I felt weird about missing milestones, happy moments and sad moments, but there are only so many that one sees in their news feed anyway.

I didn’t make a dramatic announcement before I “left”. Nothing made me storm out in a huff. I didn’t anticipate the break in this relationship. Life happened.

A couple of times, during a lengthy absence, I did leave a short post that essentially said, “Taking a break. Hope you’re all well. Sorry if I’ve missed your birthday. If there’s any news email me.”

When I moved in late 2017 I didn’t touch my computer for over a week. I didn’t announce that either.

Last winter, my radio silence began during weeks when I was busy and didn’t give Facebook my time. What prompted my Facebook hiatuses in the summer had more to do with travel. When I was subsequently able to get back to Facebook, I didn’t want to.

For one thing, the volume of notifications was overwhelming.

Another reason for extended hiatuses is that when I was out of the habit of Facebook, I no longer wanted to visit frequently. I was used to not using Facebook.

I did occasionally share articles via third-party apps (before Facebook stopped allowing them) or I’d visit Facebook long enough to post but wouldn’t read.

I should mention that it’s been YEARS since I enabled email notifications from Facebook. However, if I were to pop over to Facebook and see that I had several notifications, I’d often close that browser tab.

Recently, I have been floating back. I’d open it on mobile to scroll while waiting in line somewhere rather than read one of the many books on my Kindle app. I’d open Facebook at home “just because” — although occasionally it’s my first check in a few days.

Edit: It’s few hours after I posted this, and already I need to post a query on Facebook. That’s where I’ll find what I’m looking for. The last time I had to post a query during a time I wasn’t using Facebook much, I instructed people to email me in response. Still, people would respond with a comment and via direct message.

Here’s why I want to step away from Facebook

It has nothing to do with privacy issues or any of the other shitty stuff about the company.

It’s not an addiction I want. I have another mobile app addiction in the form of a game, but it has a set number of lives in each session (thus limiting the duration of play) and we know that Facebook is endless.

I have so many methods of stimulation on my phone. Do I need Facebook? No. I want less stimulation on my device. Not checking Facebook before I go to sleep won’t keep me from procrastinating to close my eyes, but it’s one fewer thing.

Facebook triggers feelings that I sometimes want to avoid.

“Friends” doesn’t mean “friends”. The access into one’s life that Facebook provides gives some people the sense that relationships are closer than they are. I know people with thousands of “friends” who pruned their list and encouraged people to like their business page. I know people who have had to completely go private or have two accounts, one for friends and another for acquaintances, despite that Facebook provides filtering options for who sees what.

Removing the app from my phone is the first step. The next step will be to give up Messenger. I won’t delete the Facebook pages app, because as a social media manager, I need to have access to the FB pages I manage.

I want to know about my friends’ highs and lows.

I like seeing my “memories”. Sometimes I post something specifically to be reminded on the anniversary of that moment. (I can continue to do that, or do it with privacy set to only me.)

There are people whose phone numbers I don’t have, but we communicate via Facebook messages. Over time I will get phone numbers and stop using messenger. Occasionally I’ll check into Facebook just in case.

We could email each other.

Culling the Friends list

Every so often I go through my “friends” list and remove people. Some of the potential reasons include:

  • We haven’t spoken (or engaged in text-based communication) for years
  • We haven’t engaged with each other’s content in years
  • We barely know each other; One of us clicked “add friend” and the other accepted. We haven’t gotten to know each other more since. We’ve never bonded. When I first joined Facebook I sent friend requests to everyone I met. Now it’s rare.
  • I don’t recognize you. I recently unfriended someone because I had no idea who they were. I started seeing them on my Friends list but I don’t remember adding them in 2011 or meeting them. I considered that they were using a pseudonym but quickly confirmed that they weren’t. I just don’t remember them.
  • I might unfriend you if wishing you a happy birthday seems insincere — not because I want you to have a bad birthday, but because making contact with you, on your Facebook wall, only once a year makes it feel disingenuous (with a few exceptions).
    That said, it feels good to get birthday wishes from people from my past who I otherwise don’t speak to so maybe I’m depriving others of those good feelings.
  • You made the friend request because we’re both members of a Facebook group and you wanted to either sell me something or learn more about me to see if I’m your ideal customer. (B-School students & alumni are notorious for this. I initially accepted some of those requests and put those people on a “B-School” list with limited access to my profile so they’d see less from me than others. I’ve removed some since.)
  • Reading your posts makes me uncomfortable. This is one of the few personal reasons.

I recently noticed that an old acquaintance from my Livejournal days (the early 2000s) had sent me a message on Facebook referring to the fact that we’re no longer connected. We hadn’t spoken in years nor had we liked or commented or each other’s posts in years. I didn’t think he’d notice. It’s not that I don’t like him, it’s that I figured, “What’s the point?”

Every time I send an event invitation I use it to quietly remove people because the list of suggested guests is always presented slightly differently and I see people who fit the above reasons.

I don’t make an announcement about pruning my Friend’s list because I don’t want anyone to have any feelings about it. Being removed from one’s friend’s list might or might not be personal but one’s self-worth shouldn’t have anything to do with the size of another’s Facebook Friend’s list or who’s on it. I don’t want to give you the opportunity to say, “Please keep me.” or “Whew, I made the cut.” I have reasons. Don’t feel bad or good about it. As much as I post, Facebook only represents part of my life.

There are friends I’d rather interact with in person than online. As much as I enjoy reading about their lives through a post that goes out to several people, I’d often prefer that my friends tell me about their lives over dinner and drinks. I’d rather clink glasses over good things, and provide an actual shoulder when needed.

Again, friends are not the same as acquaintances. The term “Friends list” is a misnomer, one that’s sometimes bothered me for years.

Real connection

In 2019 I resolve to have more face-to-face time or direct text message time. (I’m more comfortable with text-based communication than phone calls. When email became widespread, it provided relief from my lifetime phone phobia.)

I want to truly connect with people, not spend time and energy on scrolling for the sake of scrolling. Humans need real connection.

It’s about quality time, not the number of connections.

I want to offer support when needed and congratulations and such for your good news. I don’t want to have to mindlessly surf to find it. I don’t want to sacrifice time or emotional energy. I don’t want to be distracted. I want to give you my undivided attention.

To sum it up:

Why I deleted Facebook on my phone and will keep my desktop Facebook experience to a minimum:

  1. Facebook is a distraction
  2. I’m more productive without it
  3. Facebook is one more way I allow myself to be triggered into negative feelings
  4. The world goes on whether I use Facebook or not.

Why I want to delete Facebook Messenger:

  1. I’ll respond when I want to. Even though I do that now, people expect an instant response when they send a message.
  2. Friends are not the same as acquaintances and yet, some acquaintances seem to want the same care and attention as friends because we’re connected on Facebook. If you don’t know me, email me.
  3. We’re capable of having discussions over text message or email
  4. See #3 above.

I’ll leave you with this because the title of this post got this song in my head and because it’s always a good time for some Elvis:

Update: Also read this followup post and then this one.

Digital Marketing Manager | Freelance Writer | ADHD Coach for adults | Available for hire. http://andreawrites.ca.

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