My Life Without Facebook: One Year On

I loved facebook.

A lot.

It was the platform of my generation.

When I was twelve, I couldn’t wait to turn thirteen so my parents would let me sign up. At the time, no one could have said whether Facebook would go on to supersede everyone else making waves in the kiddy pool that was the early days of social media (MySpace, Twitter) — but it was gaining popularity fast, and I didn’t want to miss the train.

Well, I didn’t. I got on, and me and Facebook had one long ride that spanned more than a decade. But then, one year ago — I decided I’d had enough.

The platform that I adored as a teenager had changed. It was like I went to bed one night reading “TBHs” and “John is just chillin” and woke up to endless swathes of videos, memes, gimmicky adverts for stuff I’d never need, and finally — political debates. *sigh*

I’m sure COVID-19 made Facebook even worse for me; I was stuck inside, like everyone else in March of 2020, on an endless doom scroll. I guess I just realised how little substance there was to anything I was seeing or clicking on. There was almost nothing uplifting or encouraging.

The videos weren’t getting any funnier, the news wasn’t getting any better (thanks COVID), and conspiracy theories were rife in my feed from people who I thought might have known better.

To say nothing of the fact that by this point in my life, I’d accumulated over one thousand “friends” on the platform — very few of whom actually were. But I want to stay connected. I thought. If not for Facebook I might never see them again!

I’m not sure what particularly worried me about losing touch with people with whom I hadn’t spoken in years. They added little to my life apart from an annual “Happy Birthday” post (if I was lucky), and provoking unsolicited comment threads to appear in my feed (thanks to Facebook’s unfortunate algorithm).

I think now that I was addicted to the false sense of connection Facebook offered me. Surely, I didn’t want to lose out, right? On news, on photos of friends, on entertainment?

I’ll admit that the fear of missing out gripped me more than ever when I thought seriously about deleting my account.

Eventually though…I started to take steps.

I unfriended people I didn’t hear from or didn’t want to. I changed my name in the vain hope of achieving some degree of anonymity and immunity from unwanted friend requests (didn’t work). Finally — I saved all my photographs.

I went back through years of profile photos, cover photos, posts from friends, and posts that I made, and saved everything I thought worth keeping. That was the final step.

When I’d finished I knew I was really going to do it. To delete my account and say goodbye to Facebook forever. I couldn’t believe I was actually going through with it! People I told about it thought I was weird.

I waited about a week before I did it. Deleting the app off my phone and sending goodbye messages via the Messenger app was really when the rubber hit the road. It was with more than a little trepidation I said goodbye to years-old group chats. How will we all talk to each other? I wondered.

Finally, it was time — and Facebook does not make it easy. But I found where I had to go, and then spent 30 days waiting — forcing myself not to log back in and revert the whole process, to save myself from Facebook exile at the very last.

The first two weeks were a little tough. I had to re-train myself not to scroll. It was incredible how many times I found myself thumbing around for the app. But after that, 30 days came and went without much fanfare, and I was gone.

Goodbye Facebook! It actually felt sort of good to say it…

The Aftermath

One year later, I can say I’m closer with all the friends I was afraid would reject me when I disappeared from our group chats. They still want to hang out, as it happens, but now they text me or call me instead.

I spend way more time actually talking on the phone with my family and friends than I ever did “liking” their posts on Facebook or writing on their wall, and I have an abundance of free time that I’m not spending listlessly glued to my device consuming meaningless content.

Now, instead of scrolling Facebook, I read actual books. Instead of getting sucked into comment threads on news shared to my feed, I’ve subscribed to an actual newspaper; and when something in the headlines provokes my comment: only the four walls of my house get to hear about it and everyone stays friends afterwards.

My personal Instagram account went shortly afterwards, I’m afraid to say, and I’ve deleted Twitter and TikTok off of my phone. I’ve come to discover I’m a much happier person without social media, and I waste considerably less time.

Getting rid of social media might not be the answer for you, but if you are thinking about it, and wondering what life is like on the other side; I’m here to say that one whole year later — I’m so very glad I deleted Facebook.

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Musician, historian, and writer. Alberta, Canada.

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D. C. C. Randell

D. C. C. Randell

Musician, historian, and writer. Alberta, Canada.

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