Quitting Facebook after six years proved to Eoin Weldon that there’s more to life than fake ‘friends’ and collecting ‘likes’
IN February of this year, I celebrated two years off Facebook. The world’s largest social network was an addiction I didn’t care to endure any longer so deactivating delivered to me immense freedom with minimal residual regret. It took me six years of Facebooking to realise that — unlike one-seventh of the world’s population— it was not for me. Vacating one’s account is easy but ignoring the early powerful cravings that followed was quite tricky and comparable to quitting cigarettes.
These pangs were heightened by the fact that I live abroad. Most of my friends and all of my immediate family live in Ireland, and I have lived in Canada fort four years.
Despite this, after one month of Facebook sobriety, it was smooth sailing. I began emailing and calling people more and got a Whatsapp account to regularly keep in touch with my true friends. When I left Facebook, my friend tally was 411. I’d be close to, or acquaintances with, about three-quarters of that number and the rest I really just don’t know. I could honestly walk past someone on the street who was from the depths of my online “friends” barrel and not even give them a glance.
So if I didn’t engage them in the street why should I feel the need to have them listed as my friend for all the world to see. It’s just fake. Facebook is an illusion. It is also very ‘like’ orientated and barely resembles real life. Hardly surprising then that excessive Facebooking is linked with depression and awakening the green-eyed monster in those that were once jealousy free.
I feel like 90% t of people on there only show the best parts of their lives. A manicured version of their existence, a facade. Most human beings don’t like to dwell on what’s negative in their lives, understandably, and Facebook plays into this perfectly. It offers people the chance to edit and preen their lives down to a fine detail and hide all the flaws. So don’t expect to see a profile picture of someone being led away in handcuffs any time soon.
My reasons for leaving Facebook were not, however, rooted in depression or envy. I was tired it all. Exhausted of criticising myself for stupidly watching the “like” meter and worn out by the invisible duty and pressure of it all. I’d spend disproportionate amounts of time trying to perfectly word an interesting or funny status update and if it didn’t deliver an above average tally of “likes” this irritating, subtle void would appear within.
Those sitting on the fence should analyse the obligations Facebook places on you.
A person can feel obliged to like posts from a large slice of their acquaintances. Failing to do so over an extended period of time may be interpreted as a friendship waning by the other parties. Paranoid? Maybe a little, but its not a ridiculous notion. Then there’s the time-consuming, very public comment threads and in the background your PMs are dinging away. It robs us of so much precious time.
On top of this, Facebook has been sullied by several privacy scandals and now makes a killing from selling our information to the highest bidder.
Quitting will free up lots of time to try new things and productivity levels will rise. Quitting allows you to meet those peripheral friends or acquaintances by chance. Enjoy catch-up conversations and be genuinely surprised when they tell you something special has happened in their life. It beats clinically clicking a button the moment the news is posted along with all the other sheep. Allow some surprise and mystery back into your life. Do we really need to know everything that happens to everyone the moment it happens?
Thankfully there are signs of hope and change. I recently returned home to Ireland to see friends and family. I decided to have a hastily-organised stag do and needed to message a group of people in a hurry.
After much deliberation I admitted defeat and reluctantly accepted that the best way to group message people was through Facebook. So I decided to sneak back on and reactivate my account for the week I was home for this sole purpose. I was a non-posting, non-liking ghost the whole seven days and here, in the belly of the beast, was where I found a nugget of hope. I checked my profile for the first time in about 2 years and noticed that my friend count had dropped from 411 to 386.
Now, I’m no saint but I’m pretty sure 25 of my ‘friends’ from around the globe didn’t delete my deactivated, harmless zombie account for me running my mouth down the local pub ten years ago.
This was a gratifying moment as it confirmed that there were probably more like me. Maybe just a few, but a few nonetheless had also grown weary of Zuckerberg’s false, demanding creation
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