In December 2017, Facebook’s own researchers publicly questioned if the site could potentially be a threat to the public’s mental health; that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I’d already been mulling over the notion of whether to quit or not for months, but this little nugget of news was the clincher; I was done.
The reason was simple. In recent years, there have been numerous studies about how a break from the social media site improves your well-being. I’d patiently read and take note of each one I came across, each time becoming a little more disheartened and a little more dubious over its effects. At the same time, I’d also noticed that the ways in which I used social media seemed to have boomed; it was suddenly an integral part of my existence and that was something I’d never counted on.
So, after reading what those Facebook researchers had to say, I decided to do the only thing I could to free myself from it all. I didn’t just deactivate Facebook, I quit Instagram too. Here’s why that move was 100 percent the best way to start 2018. (Check out some things that could happen when you quit social media.)
I have fewer reasons to procrastinate
Let me just preface this part by saying I’m a freelancer; if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Hence, it’s fair to say that Facebook and Instagram were negatively impacting my work life and, dare I say it, my income. My typical working day used to go a little something like this: coffee, check emails, start writing, check Facebook, answer the phone, check Instagram, continue writing, check Facebook…You get the picture. Each work-related task was balanced out with procrastination in the form of social media.
Now that the accounts are no longer accessible, I no longer have the option to check them. So I don’t. I get much more work done and have time to do extra chores like replying to more emails and talking to potential clients. Scarily enough, though, the urge to log back on comes over me a few times per day, which could be a sign that I was addicted to checking social media. (Here’s how to know if you’re addicted to Facebook.)
I don’t care what other people are up to
“You do you” was the mantra I pretended to live by before now, but I never really believed it. When, with just the touch of a button, I could see what everyone in my social circle was up to, I am ashamed to say that I cared far too much. I’d get a serious level of FOMO when I saw that my friends (or even friends of friends) were out without me having a ball. Whether they were meeting up for coffee or just checked in at the cinema, I’d wonder why I wasn’t on the guest list and start feeling terribly anxious about the whole thing.
Ignorance really is bliss. I wish I’d discovered that earlier. There’s nothing particularly helpful or productive about knowing what people are doing when you’re not with them. Right now, I haven’t the slightest idea what the people I know are doing and, you know what, I couldn’t care less. I’m getting on with my own thing and so are they. Isn’t that how life was like before social media anyway? If you’re looking to delete your online presence, use this step-by-step guide to deleting your photos from Facebook.
The people who matter still get in touch
My biggest fear about logging off for good was that I’d have no way of staying in contact with the people around me. From events to groups, Facebook provides an all-too-easy way of staying in touch with your social circles. I was under the impression that if I no longer had a profile, I’d struggle to maintain my relationships and be out of the figurative loop all of the time.
Happily, nothing could have been further from the truth. My friends and family members who matter the most were strikingly quick to adapt to the change. Since I failed to make the big “I’m quitting Facebook” announcement, a few got in touch quite quickly to see what the deal was. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had more texts and messages than ever before. The truth is that Facebook doesn’t make friendships; it’s just a platform. When you leave it, the people who matter will still be there.
The invitations I get are more sincere
Oh, how I used to loathe the Facebook event invitations I once got. Being invited to endless clubs/breakfasts/talks/parties/club nights per day was exhausting. Most of the time, these invites weren’t sincere requests for my attendance, but a way to boost numbers on event pages or sell tickets ahead of time.
While, needless to say, I hardly miss the event invitations, I found yet another surprising side effect of quitting Facebook: The invites I get now are completely genuine. And this month is already shaping up to be a busy one. Two of my friends are hosting board game nights and a few have birthdays coming up too. Being invited to these social engagements by a quick message somehow felt more real than a mere notification; a small red dot. And, yes, I will be attending both.
I feel free to live in the moment
I hadn’t realized it before now, but, in some respects, I was living my life for social media. When I went out to eat with friends or family, I’d always pause to snap a quick food picture for Instagram; perhaps I’d filter it then and there too. Each time I met someone to catch up and chat, I’d use Facebook to check us in to whatever bar or cafe we happened to be frequenting. My Instagram story was constantly full of videos and photos documenting my day-to-day life. It was an addiction—a sickness.
Now that I can no longer update the world, aka my meager online following, of my every move, things are a little different. I sit down to eat a meal and take in how the plate looks for myself, not anyone else. I engage with my friends on a real level, instead of half-listening while I use the Facebook app on my phone. I do things and enjoy them without even considering how cool they will look on my Instagram Story. It’s seriously liberating in a way that I’d never considered it might be and, at least for now, I’m loving the fact that I’m living my life for my own pleasure, not social media.
Here are eight ways to shut down your FOMO!