Why Taking a Facebook Break is Good For You

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Why I desperately needed to take a break from Facebook, what I learned in the process and why I will never use it the same way again.

Submitted: November 11, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 11, 2016



I joined Facebook several years ago because a good friend invited me. I knew nothing about it at the time. At first it was fun to have a place to share memories and photos and just have fun. My list of friends grew to include everybody from family to a group of people I met online (and later in real life) that were all part of an online forum of our favourite rock band that happened to be reuniting. The list also included old high school friends and a few co-workers. When I say it was fun, I mean all we ever really did was tag each other to answer random questions, send stickers and reminisce. As the years went by, that friend list grew to just over 100 yet it was nowhere near the hundreds of friends that some people seem to have, but it was enough for me. At times it became akward knowing that friends of friends could see everything I was sharing and people I hadn't talked to in years also had access to things I would never share outside my immediate circle but I got used to it and continued to post occasional pictures and updates. In recent years Facebook had become for me a means to also get news and keep up to date with my topics of interest through various groups and forums. Quite frankly, I started to enjoy logging in just to read interesting articles. The constant food updates were starting to get annoying and the responses to politically-charged posts too much for me to handle. Most frustrating to me were posts from either myself or others where people felt compelled to state how much they disagreed, and not always in a nice way.

Facebook had also become a lot like high school. I was never popular in high school and it seemed like no matter how many times I liked or commented on people's posts, it was never reciprocated. How rude! I also started to notice that the likes were more of an automatic-reflex because they would often come within seconds of my posting...but, did you actually read what I posted? You couldn't possibly have read all that and decided you liked it that quickly. Yup. Reflex action. There was also the select few who never acknowledged anything I wrote. Ever. Yet, they are the ones who are on the site all the time. So, why did you add me as a friend? It was so childish and pointless to me. Let me point out that my very best friends are either not on Facebook at all, meaning they don't have an account, or they have an account but are not what I would consider active users. You know what? I like it that way. We have strong friendships. So why did it bother me so much when acquaintances weren't liking my pictures or my posts? That's one of the reasons I left Facebook for a while and one of the questions i decided I needed an answer to.

There are several different Facebook profiles.

1. The ones who are on all the time but never comment. It's like they are viewing everything from afar but never have anything to say.

2. The ones who are on all the time and share and comment and like everything.These ones are everybody's friend.

3. The ones who are only on occasionally and couldn't care less. They probably joined just to follow the masses but don't actually see any value in the platform.

4. The ones who are on but have only a small circle of friends and keep things quite intimate.

5. The ones who are on all the time and post status updates almost hourly and who share and share and overshare.

6. The motivational/inspirational ones. Their updates are meant to motivate and inspire but they are so overused that it becomes pointless.

7. The ones who check-in all the time. We can track their every movement. We know what they eat. Where they go. What movies they watch. What sports teams they like and on and on and on.

8. The everything hurts ones. Every ailment. Every headache, sniffle and depressive day is documented and shared. Pass the kleenex please.

9. The religious nut job. Thankfully, I don't have any of these on my list but I do admit to occasionally posting religious articles but hey, it's not about you specifically or aimed at you. It's for my other friends. Just to set the record straight, no, I am not trying to convert you.

10. The memes. The ones who think every meme, every post is aimed at them.

11. The subtle hinter. The ones who post same memes to give you a hint instead of just coming right out and saying something to you. The meme that says "Stop swimming across oceans for people who aren't worth your time." That one is just for you. Yup, you. Did you get that? I hope you read that post because you know, that was aimed directly at you bitch! How dare you not comment on my post from this morning? How dare you?!

12. The narcissistic ones. Similar to #5 above but are constantly fishing for compliments.

13. Lucky #13. The narcissist/attention-seeker. These people are probably the worst offenders. Everything is about them. They too share and share and overshare and fish for sympathy about everything. Everything is about them.

I'm sure there are more and I am certain that I'm not the only one that's ever felt hurt, snubbed or even, dare I say, harrassed through social media. This is not what I signed up for! This was supposed to be fun! Yeah, you know, flinging thongs at each other? Remember that? Those were good times. 20 Random Questions about Yourself, pass it on. 10 Things that start with the same letter as your first name. Isn't that what Facebook was all about? No. Not at all because we've evolved since then. We were no longer sending birthday cakes and stickers to each other. No. We weren't just sharing stories and photos of our kids, spouses and pets. We are more sophisticated than that.

So how did we go from encouraging each other to feeling like the world would end for us if we didn't log on at least once a day?

How did we become a society that constantly craves attention to feed our egos? How? Simple. We live in that kind of world. Everything is about me. Everything. My life. My kids. My house. My job. My vacation. My car. My selfie. My. My. My. My. My.

And if you don't like it and if you don't give it a thumbs up, what kind of friend are you, eh?

Back to my list above. #13. This was a huge motivator for me to give up on Facebook. A friend, who just happened to unfriend me last night, was a huge huge reason why I needed to get away. So-called friend of 25 years, who, in all fairness, has gone through a lot of shit and shall remain nameless, is a #13. I just couldn't take it anymore. The almost hourly posts and pics of her kid, herself, her struggles with her health, her oversharing of very intimate details of her medical problems. I couldn't take it. We had a miscommunication back in the summer and since then, everything I've done on Facebook has been ignored. Everything my family has done has gone unnoticed. This is high school mentality. This is why I wish Facebook didn't exist. It breaks down the lines of communication. People forget how to talk. Instead, they choose to snub you on social media. Instead of reaching out when the dialog and the window of opportunity are there, they ignore. I should point out that I did reach out to her. To wish her luck on some tests. I got a thank you in response and that was all. She decided to skip over a very important milestone in my life, to not wish my children a happy birthday, to flat out ignore me. That told me she was no longer interested in being my friend, so why not just unfriend me on Facebook too? It's not that hard. Just do it. I don't believe in being friends online if we're not going to be friends in real life. It saddened me. A lot but I knew I was going to be okay.

In late September of this year I decided to partake in the 99 Days of Freedom from Facebook challenge. This is not a new challenge but I'd only recently heard of it. Could I acutally go 99 days without ever peeking, even once? Understand that I have the Facebook app on my phone and what better way to pass some time then to quickly take a look? Ooooh, this was going to be sooooo hard!

I was willing to try. I said my goodbyes. Nobody cared. Big surprise there. You know what? Something amazing happened. I became happier. A lot happier. I had removed the Facebook app from my phone. At first it was very, very difficult but then I got busy. I had more time. A lot more time. I wasn't wasting time. The stress was gone. All that Facebook stress just disappeared. Who knew that Facebook was stressing me out this much? I surprised myself.

Well I didn't make it all the way to 99. After 41 days, I cracked. My daughter graduated and I just had to share. What does that say about me? What does that speak about my character. I am one of those. You know. One of the ones in my list up there. Oh no. What did I do? What did I do? I can't stand it. Why did I do that? Why? I'm still trying to figure it out and it's been a week. This has taught me a lot about myself. I need the approval too. I need to belong. I need the...gulp...attention. Do I? Do I really need all this? How pathetic. Yes, pathetic.

A while back, I found out I had celiac disease and so I posted that on Facebook yesterday asking for some advice from people who know about it because, hey, I had broken my Facebook fast. I might as well get back on it. Said ex-friend responded that I should research and read labels. She responded! After 3 1/2 months she suddenly had something to say. Incredible. People surprise me all the time. I politely said thank you but that I was looking to hear from people who actually live with this, to which she replied that she guessed I didn't know that she had CD. What? Excuse me. You never mentioned it. We've shared meals together. WTF. That's crazy. I was stunned but what stunned me even more was her next sentence where she continued to write that yes, she had celiac disease along with her life-threatening heart condition (which I knew about) that has now spread to some of her other organs (which I did not know about because I was on a Facebook fast, remember?) and she wished me luck on my new diet.

Disbelief. Shock. Sadness. Those were my initial reactions but then wait a second. You had so many chances to mend our broken relationship. To reach out and keep me updated. To acknowledge me yet you chose to tell me this on social media? What the f*** is wrong with people? How is my facebook post the proper venue for you to disclose this information? My friends are not your friends and vice versa. Why? Why do people act like this? Why is this again about you? I am sorry you're sick. She knows well that I am truly sorry for her condition but she could've updated me via text message or a Facebook message.

I again said thank you without acknoledging anything else. Call me stubborn but why oh why? Minutes later, I was unfriended. Done.

But I'm okay. I'm actually relieved that the toxicity is gone and I don't have to log in and see all those posts about it. Some things are just not meant to be shared on Facebook and personal discussions in an attempt to mend a broken friendship is one of those as well. My friends should not be subjected to that on my page. Pictures of my dog maybe but good heavens, not that.

So I've lost a friend but I'm okay because I know it's not something I've done. You don't just ignore somebody for months and then pipe in when an opportunity to talk about yourself presents itsef. This was me seeking some advice. My facebook is not an open forum where anything goes. I want to be able to have some control.

I know others have been unfriended, especially in wake of the U.S. election. I am sure it's happened and I'm sure they will all be fine.

What happens now? Well, I've had weeks to think about how I was using Facebook and how I wanted to use it going forward. I am probably still keeping a lot of the friends on my list but I think it's time to cut out the acquaintances and the ones who I know just really have no interest. I will continue to log in and read posts in the forums I belong to and support and like statuses and I might take a break again. I won't be sharing that much. Oversharing, I've learned, is what I hated about Facebook in the first place and oversharing is the indirect cause of a friendship lost. I don't need or want to know everything about you. I should be able to receive intimidate details that those close to me want to share via another medium. Please don't make it social media. Social media is crazy and people who use it can get ugly. Nobody cares when you post everything about yourself for the world to see. You have my support and love. Just reach out to me privately.




© Copyright 2020 Sarah Vaillancourt. All rights reserved.

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