As the political season began to ramp up this past summer, I decided to step away from *Facebook until election day. Today. I even went as far as to have my husband change my password so I couldn’t crumble under the craving to scroll my feed. Per our agreement, he handed over the password to me this morning and I logged into my long abandoned page. But before I rejoined, I spent some time thinking about everything I learned from my time away:
Facebook withdrawal is very real
I never would have considered myself to be addicted to social media. Then I left Facebook. In the immediate aftermath, I was filled with a constant impulse to pick up my phone and check out the newest posts. Those urges lasted for about a month. A month. That is how long it took me to forget about Facebook. That was incredibly surprising to me.
You have more time
I never realized how much time I spent falling down the Facebook rabbit hole. Click on one article after the next, check out that gallery of all those before and after home renovations, spend three hours composing the perfect response to some stranger, all time wasters. It has been remarkable how much time and brain space I’ve gained back after taking time away.
You truly are out of touch
This point is two-fold. First, when I was on Facebook regularly I took for granted the easy access I had to the lives of friends and acquaintances. When I left, I realized I had no way to stay in touch with many of them. Our only connection was Facebook and I felt sad at the loss of that connection. It made me realize how important it is, if you truly value your relationship, to exchange personal contact information.
Second, I can’t tell you how many times at friend or family gatherings I felt completely out of touch with everyone’s lives. People would reference pictures they posted, stories they read or shocking comments someone made on their post. I had no idea what they were talking about. The nice thing, however, because I wasn’t following their every move through social media, is that it gave us plenty to discuss when we were face-to-face. It felt nice.
You stay friends with your friends
During the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections, I lost several friends due to political arguing. I’ve learned, over time, that political discussion has no place in intimate relationships. After the cruel political commentary began to pop up in my newsfeed I knew, if I wanted to spare my friendships, it was time to log off. I can happily report that all of my relationships have remained in-tact.
You actually have to take time to research news sources
The nice thing (or troubling thing) about your Facebook feed is how curated it becomes to your political views and interests. When the news comes to you, your feed essentially becomes an echo-chamber. Taking the time to look for my news sources, instead of relying on my feed, guaranteed a more diverse perspective of information.
Your life is filled with a whole lot less angst
Political arguments, social pressure, inundation with advertising campaigns, all contribute to higher levels of stress. I instantly felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders within the first few days of being off Facebook. Without the constant influence of my newsfeed, I found myself feeling less angry, less argumentative, less frustrated, less annoyed and no longer felt the need for comparison. It allowed me the opportunity to let more light and positivity into my life. And I think we all need a little more of that.
I’ve spent the last hour scrolling my feed and catching up on the lives of those I have “friended” over the years. Honestly, it feels weird to be back on Facebook in a more fully-functional capacity. I’m not sure if I will stick with the decision to be back. My time away has definitely taught me a few things about how I use my time, how I interact within my online relationships and how important it is to relegate the use of Facebook as an accessory to my life. We’ll see how it goes.
*In full disclosure, I continued to run Gray Duck from a dummy account, it was used only to share new posts to my page