Life Without Facebook

 Anti-Social Media Experiment

I’ve made the decision to try life without social media.

What that really means is getting off Facebook. While I have accounts on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, I rarely visit those sites. But Facebook is different. For some reason, even when I vow not to visit, it draws me in. Calls to me. Compels me to log in and browse my feed. And yet when I do, more often than not I walk away aggravated, not inspired.

So why do I keep going back?

Not sure… but it’s definitely time to step back and re-evaluate.

I joined Facebook in 2007, and truth be told the only reason I joined was to keep an eye on my daughter when she went away to college. But in 2008, like many other business owners, I began using it to market my business. I began amassing a huge friends list, accepting friend requests from everyone who sent me one.

For awhile everything was hunky dory. Until it wasn’t anymore.

I’m not exactly sure when things shifted, but shift they did.

Every time I logged on, my feed, inbox, and notifications were overloaded with marketing and promotion. It appeared that many of the folks who wanted to be my friend, really just wanted another person to market to. Shotgun marketing at it’s finest. Probably because it was, and still is for the most part, free.

When I began to realize earlier this year that I was more bothered than inspired every time I logged onto Facebook, I made the decision to cut back. I pruned my friends list of more than 5000 people I didn’t know and kept only friends, family, and people I’ve actually met or done business with.

Problem solved… or so I thought.

Yes, it cut down on most of the annoying marketing and content in my feed that I really didn’t care about.

Still, I continued to find myself feeling uneasy after spending time on Facebook. When I asked myself whether the time I spent perusing what my friends were sharing had enriched my life in any way, more often than not the answer was “no.”

Yes, it’s great to see pictures of my daughter and her friends, since she’s so far away. But we talk nearly every day, and there are other ways to share pictures.

Yes, I suppose it’s fun to see what old high school friends are doing. But honestly, I didn’t hang out with most of them in high school (just knew them) and I haven’t emailed or picked up the phone to call any of them since reconnecting on Facebook. So it starts to feel like I’m just being a voyeur on their lives 30 years later. And, all I can say is, A Facebook stalker is so not who I want to be!

Yes, I suppose it’s fun seeing what other friends or old business acquaintances are up to… but far too often I walk away feeling envious or less-than because they appear to be doing better than I am. Or, the posts scream “look at me” and I find myself asking, Why does Facebook seem to bring this out in people?

Yes, I like finding interesting articles, blog posts, videos, and deals (like my almost-free reading glasses from Coastal.com) that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. But I’m beginning to ask myself if easy access to these things is worth the aggravation Facebook so often stimulates.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much.

Perhaps it’s tied to my frustration with the business coaching and success industry, and all the research I did when I wrote my book Breaking the Spell. I learned so much when I took a closer look at the industry, and perhaps I can’t unsee what I saw or unlearn what I learned. I also don’t like how what I see affects my opinions about other people. I find myself judging them based on what they post, good or bad, and deep down that doesn’t feel good. When people share rants, I find it too easy to jump on the bandwagon… and I’m trying hard to live from a more positive perspective vs. complain about things I don’t like. Plus, on more than one occasion, Facebook has come between me and my husband. Did you know more than a third of divorce filings in 2011 contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey? No, we’re not headed for divorce court, but it does make me ask, Do we really need this affecting our relationship?

For all these reasons, it’s time to pull the plug, at least temporarily, and see what happens.

I need to step away.

Maybe not forever, but at least for a time. I need to experience life without Facebook. I’m sure I can find other ways to access the information that’s important to me. I can subscribe to blog feeds or email lists. I can search Google.  And, if I really want to connect with someone or find out how they’re doing, I can shoot them an email, pick up the phone, or walk down the street and knock on their door.

Why I’m deactivating my profile and not just taking a Facebook vacation.

I took a Facebook vacation a few months ago. I did not go on the site for weeks. And life was better. But eventually Facebook began calling me back. I thought, Oh, I’ll just check in once a day. That lasted for a short while, and before I knew it, I was back to periodic checking, and my frustrations were once again rising.

There’s something addictive about Facebook. So as with most addictions, I need to be cut off. So when I get bored, or don’t feel like working on what I’m working on, I can’t, with a quick click of the mouse, hop over to see what’s happening on Facebook. If I’m not connected, I can’t visit. If the door is locked, I can’t open it. It’s as simple as that. (I’m going to try keeping my Facebook pages live, and only deactivating my personal profile… but if I find myself unable to resist checking those pages I will deactivate them as well. Hopefully that won’t be necessary, but I guess we’ll find out!)

Am I worried I’ll miss out?

Absolutely. For five years it’s been a steady stream of information into my life. A connection with the outside world. A place to share information and opinions. And, seemingly, a view of what people are up to (seemingly, because I know it’s only the picture they’re choosing to paint). All from the comfort, convenience, and anonymity of my computer.

But I’m ready to give it a shot.

I’m calling it my Anti-Social Media Experiment.

I don’t know how long it will last. But I want to see if, or how, my life changes without Facebook. I want to see if I really need it to stay connected to the people who really matter. I want to see how or if it will affect my blog and my business. And quite frankly, I think it will force me to think of other ways to connect, and market. Ways that may be more effective, but that get pushed to the back burner when it’s easier to just hop on Facebook and call it done.

Everyone says you have to be on social media if you have a business or a book. I wonder if that’s really true? And, I suppose the only way to find out is to test that theory. So that’s another part of this experiment.

I know I’m not the only one with a Love-Hate relationship with Facebook.

I’ve heard quite a few people share the same frustrations… many posting them right on Facebook. If you can relate to what I’ve shared, I’d love to hear your perspective. Even if you absolutely love Facebook, I’d love to hear why. Please post a comment and share.

And feel free to share this blog post on Facebook or other social media if you’re so inspired. Because as hard as it is for me not to share it, I won’t be.

 

About Debbie

After spending 32 years in marketing, Debbie now spends her time blogging, teaching online courses, doing volunteer pet therapy, and encouraging others to follow a more inspired path through life.

27 comments on “Life Without Facebook

  1. You are so to the point, once again Debbie :-) I admire you for your bravery because that´s what it is. My husband would bravo you all the way is 58, joined facebook just a month ago very reluctantly and is very picky about who he is choosing as his ‘friends’. And he would probably agree with you on all your points all the while I of course would defend facebook fiercely :-)
    You are absolutely right about it not being possible to unlearn or unsee once you have seen or learned. That´s something I picked up at University while studying Women´s Studies. I think it´s great that you want to test stuff and don´t just assume so I applaud you for that and look forward to reading about it on your blog.

    Facebook just as you say has something alluring about it and I actually think the whole Internet has the same kind of addictive and alluring quality. Same husband again really has a point when he says I spend too much time at home in front of the computer…because I on the other hand not being addictive to facebook (though liking it a lot) am more addictive to educating myself online. You know listening online, ordering programs and so on… a classic case of self help junkie..

    To be honest, for me facebook has been more of a joy than a nuisance but I´m not necessarily very active every day. I have also registered almost when it got started but didn´t really get what it was all about before a couple of years later when the hype really started.
    For some reason hooking up with people on line, discussing, that´s my thing. I love it and that´s probably why I kind of like facebook but don´t feel addicted to it.

    Wishing you all the luck on your new adventure Debbie!

    Warm greetings from snowy Finland,
    Carina :-)

  2. Debbie,
    This is a really powerful post and I admire you for taking this step! I agree with many of the things you’ve said about your frustrations about Facebook – I’ve “hidden” several folks from my stream, mostly those who tend to rant! And, you’re so right about using Facebook as a way to procrastinate! I know I’m guilty of that, too. Your bold plan reminds me of something similar I did years ago. I got so distraught over what I saw on the TV news and read in newspapers that I decided not to watch the TV news or read newspapers. It’s been probably 15 years since I did this and has definitely added to the peace in my life. Less brain space is used for things I have no control over or the sensationalism that passes for journalism these days. Friends and family ask how I keep up with what’s going on in the world and I tell them just what you mentioned – for those things and subjects that are important to me, I seek out the information that I need from trustworthy sources. I look forward to hearing how your experiment goes. Please keep us posted!
    Lisa :-)

  3. Hi Debbie!

    Well, you planted the seed in your book. I read it in there and every time I logged onto my Facebook account I saw the words you had written in my mind. So, I pruned (and I mean REALLY pruned) back my Facebook “friends”. I didn’t have as many as you, but I went from almost 700 to about 150. And just today I was looking at some of their posts on my feed and I was getting REALLY ticked off! Then I would respond or post something on my own timeline and my son would tell me I sounded like a grumpy old man (I’m 50 by the way – does that qualify in the “old” department?). And I noticed how aggravated I was becoming.

    Then comes your blog post! They say great minds think alike (and fools seldom differ), but this was a sign that I have to pay attention to. You put into words all the ugly thoughts I’ve been having about Facebook. So, here’s what I’m doing…

    I have a business page (not sure if you’ve seen it), but I have switched over to posting as my business only. You can do that in the pull down menu under Home. And I booked marked it. Now when I go to the page I have nothing on my news feed and only see my business stuff. Which is cool! Because I’ve made a commitment to do nothing but post things that inspire me photographically. I share my work, I share the work of other photographers I love, I post quotes from photographers, I talk about projects I’m doing and I share art and ideas. Nothing but positive stuff about my passion. Guess what? It’s working!

    I don’t like judging people. I don’t like being judged. But, Facebook is a poison pill that has caused me to do that and I’m sure caused others to do it to me. I read a post and I would think just awful things about that person. So, I’m done! I don’t want to feel or think that way any more. I want to show people the passion I show my students when I teach (I teach at the local college). And maybe, one day, someone will say: “hey, that photographer guy named Brian, his work was cool and that got me into taking photos”. I can dream can’t I :)

    You are awesome, Deb!
    Brian

  4. Thank you for your support Margaret. I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds and sharing it with others. While I have some ideas of what it may be like, I’m actually quite curious to see if those ideas materialize, and to discover whatever shows up during the experiment. Ironically, this morning when I would have normally checked Facebook on my phone, my phone wasn’t working. I thought to myself, “Wow, even if I hadn’t deactivated my Facebook account yesterday, I STILL wouldn’t have been able to check Facebook the way I habitually do each morning.” Very interesting to say the least! Even more eye-opening… I didn’t miss it at all. By the way, by late morning, my phone was working again. Still don’t know why it went haywire for a few hours. It’s never done that before! :-)

  5. Thanks for chiming in Carina. While I do have some global concerns with Facebook and what it may be doing to our society and communication, I also recognize that my issues with Facebook are my issues. And they’re likely tied to the people I’ve attracted and the business I’ve been in. And there are probably many people like you, who have a totally different experience because of how you’ve come into Facebook and what you use it for. And perhaps I may find that if I do eventually go back to Facebook, I may need to start over and build a new circle of friends who better represent where I am in my life now, vs. where I was a few years ago. Thanks for your support all the way from snowy Finland! :-)

  6. Lisa,
    I did the same thing with the news back in 2006. These days I will occasionally watch the news but I really have been unplugged from TV news and the newspaper for 6 years. And like you I get the news I need… the news that affects me. Or, I can easily track down info on stories if I want to know more. Interestingly, on the few occasions I have sat down to watch the TV news to find out about more about a specific story, I have been amazed how much they report on things that I really don’t need to know… negative things that don’t affect me, and in fact if I were to be subjected to those kinds of stories every day they would really change my view of the world… negatively and unnecessarily in my opinion. Thanks for your support!

  7. Hi Debbie,
    It is all very true. For more than 10 years I didn’t have cable tv and everyone wanted to know what I did for fun…a lot. I just don’t watch tv. We eventually got the cable back to watch the Olympics, but I don’t watch tv shows, they seem so offensive after being without them for so long. Facebook is an addictive substance and an easy time waster. Recently I decided to only post on my business page as part of a much bigger New Year’s resolution.
    “all you need is less” is what I am striving for in 2013.
    Thanks for sharing this common story.
    I look forward to keeping in touch the old fashioned way ~:) by email!
    Shayla

  8. Brian, your comments warm my heart. Yes I did plant the seed in my book, and I’ve taken what I would call baby steps as far as minimizing the negative impact of Facebook in my life since then. I guess this is the final baby step! I resonate with everything you are saying. And I love that you found a way to share your passion and photography and opt-out of the rest. If I go back, I may just try that! And by the way, 50 is not old (I’m 51!) and even if it was, I don’t believe and old and grumpy have to go together. I say let’s be old and happy and positive! :-)

    Thanks for always sharing and being so supportive. I appreciate it more than you know (you help me know I’m not crazy!)

    And I don’t think that’s a dream… if you’re doing what you say it WILL happen… how can it not when you are passionately sharing your love of photography as a teacher, mentor, and inspirer!

  9. Shayla,
    I must say I have always enjoyed what you share on Facebook. You’re definitely not one of those people who aggravate me with their posts! ;-) So I’m glad you have made that resolution for 2013. By the way, I’m subscribed to your email list and I just subscribed to your RSS feed so I can continue to receive your info directly. I too look forward to staying in touch by email or phone. Funny how we now call that the old fashioned way! I’m sensing 2013 is going to be a very different year for me. I too am letting go of a lot and focusing on “less.” And interestingly, I feel myself being pulled back into the real world, and away from the virtual world, after working almost exclusively in the virtual world for the past 8 years. I’m curious to see what opens up. Happy trails… to us both! :-)

  10. Sorry, to take up another space, but I wanted to mention this: I’m using Twitter more. You can follow and unfollow easily & when you do unfollow it’s not like “un-friending” someone. There also seems to be a lot more links to cool information.

  11. Debbie, once again I so resonate with this blog. I too have had similar experiences and have tried to cut back and now it will be easier to really cut back. I have a similar experience with my email inbox getting
    all those marketing emails to either buy another product OR listen to another webinar that ends up wanting
    me to buy another product.
    Debbie, how wonderful life without facebook will be, it will be REAL LIFE, more time for your family and those everyday things that bring you pleasure.
    Keep up the great work, I am so inspired …. many many thanks,

  12. I see another book in your future, Debbie! And, you already have the title for it!
    I, too, have skipped posting on Facebook “for a few days” and felt “free.” That’s the word I would use to describe it. I didn’t feel like I had to post something to keep my name and business out there. And to be honest I didn’t feel the pressure to post because I had just gotten a new project that was going to pay me well. I immediately felt that I didn’t have to “drive” my business through Facebook so much. I got comfortable.

    And then I didn’t. I started to fidget.

    As you say, it is an “addiction.” Something lured me in and I was back to the thinking, “What if I miss out on an opportunity because I”m not out there?” Or, even, “Wait! I have something to say that I’m sure other people, ex-high schoolers, co-workers, acquaintances want to know about.” (haha!) I’m sure that’s not the case.

    (I even apologized to you once about not being on FB for the last few days and I’ll never forget you said something like, Don’t worry about not being on Facebook for the last few days, Edna. Facebook isn’t “real.” I’ll never forget that b/c I totally understand that concept, and yet, the lure of reading the metrics, seeing how many likes, shares and comments you get as well as getting a “high-5” from a client you just inspired to act is irresistable!!!

    I’m excited to hear what you come up with. I will be following….

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  14. Post away Brian… I love the conversation! Yes, I am on Twitter but have never spent much time there. And I guess this experiment is really about seeing what life is like without relying on these digital networks and instead connecting in person or directly with people. Thanks for sharing… I really do want to know what’s working for people and what’s not.

  15. Maybe there is another book Edna… we’ll see how the experiment goes! :-) Thanks for sharing your experience living without Facebook for a few days. You echoed my thoughts when you said you immediately felt that you didn’t have to ‘drive’ your business through Facebook as much. I do think it’s easy to get lazy and rely on Facebook for all of our marketing. And to be honest, while I’ve used it for years, it hasn’t really brought me much new business that I can track. I think it’s great for relationship building and maintenance with people who are already clients, but I think it’s just too easy to turn to it for all of our marketing online… because it’s right there and it’s easy and it’s free. And because many people seem to be sick of email and they are spending all their time on Facebook.

    But, when you take it away, I’m guessing you have to start thinking of other ways to get the word out, and those ways may actually be more effective. Or they may not be in this digital age… I don’t know the answer yet but I hope to find out. However, as humans I think we usually take the path of least resistance and do what’s easiest. Even if it’s not the most effective. I think that may be one dynamic with Facebook and marketing.

    Plus the fact that we don’t own our lists or presence on Facebook makes it a bit of a scary place to put all your marketing eggs. As we’ve all experienced, Facebook is constantly updating and changing, and we have no say in that. One of the latest changes involves having to pay for all of your page likes to see your posts. You have to wonder what’s next as Facebook continues to look for ways monetize itself.

    Thanks for chiming in. BTW, I remember that “apology” and conversation! :-)

  16. Hi Debbie,
    You are so right on with this post. I’ve backed away from Facebook quite a bit this year… most of my posts have been about my daughter’s hockey game results, LOL!
    I see it too… particularly during your elections in the U.S., the spiteful, almost hateful rhetoric from people in both camps was palpable. I had to ‘pick through it all’ to find the fun and uplifting stories in my feed. Now this tragic news out of CT. Most of my friends and I are sharing the grief and our prayers and love for the families… but then someone jumps on the gun control band wagon, gets the arguments whipped up again and minimizes the pain those people are suffering by turning into a political agenda item. My heart breaks over this whole situation. If only our world focused more on love and compassion instead of division and judgement. What a beautiful place this would be!
    For me, Facebook is falling into the main stream media category of “Turn it off and go live a positive life of your own choosing.”
    I will be doing a lot of culling over the holidays, as a start. As I have kids on FB I need to stay on if for no other reason than to monitor what’s going on with them. *sigh* Which is another evil of FB: It’s a predator’s smorgasbord. My 12yo girl asked me just last night if I knew this man that had asked her to friend him. That would be a NO… and another reminder chat about online safety was shared. Never ever, sweetie. Never EVER accept a friend request if you don’t personally know them IRL.
    I’ve prattled on long enough. :)
    I look forward to hearing the results of your experiment. Have a happy holiday and best to you in 2013.

  17. Patti, thanks for sharing. I haven’t been on Facebook since hearing of the school shooting in CT. For a brief moment I felt an urge to go on Facebook to see what people were saying. But that was quickly replaced with the thought that I would probably see a bunch of rants about gun control. I mentioned this to my husband and he said most people were sharing prayers. Do I feel like I’m missing out because I can’t join in? Maybe I did for a split second. Then I realized I can share my thoughts and prayers, and have, without telling others I’m doing it. I can do so privately. And isn’t that what prayers are anyway? Made me stop and think about why in our society we now feel so compelled to broadcast these feelings. For connection? For community? For comfort? Maybe. And maybe I’m missing out on that by not being on Facebook. However, I can discuss these things with family and close friends and still experience the comfort, connection and community.

    I love your comments about turning it off and going and living a positive life of your own choosing. There was a time we all survived just fine without social media. :-)

    And regarding your kids, I am so glad my kids were adults before social media came along. It is scary thinking about children on Facebook and all the private info they share and who might be seeing it. I have young nieces who are on Facebook so I do think about it even if I’ve not had to deal with it personally with my own kids. Good luck navigating this and keeping your children safe. I wish you the best.

  18. Hi Debbie! It’s been so long since we chatted and although I’ve just decided to re-enter the FB world for business by properly pursuing my biz page, I cut way back on my friends on my personal page and hid or blocked a lot of others. I just find some of the chatter so disgusting (for lack of a better word). What used to be a really fun tool to share stories and quotes and inspiration became a way for people to show off, rant and behave like idiots. Granted, there have been times where even I have wanted to ‘tell off’ someone on facebook, but I hold back by wondering if I’d dare do it in person. Yep, there is something dark, insidious and addictive to FB. BUT I’m not brave enough to back off completely, mainly because as a new mother, I’ve joined many parenting groups where I AM aligned and feel good sharing and reading again. I spend most of my time in these groups rather than interacting on my page or with my feed. I still feel good in those groups! Anyway, I’ll be in touch with you soon! Keep up the awesome thoughts, I really enjoy your blog.
    Kim :-)

  19. Hi Kim!
    I may be back on FB someday, although right now I don’t miss it at all. But if I do go back I imagine I will be interacting with a different group of people, like you, who are more in line with where I am personally and professionally right now. Glad you have found a way to enjoy it again. I’d love to reconnect with you.

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  21. I’m taking a facebook break right now and I’m loving it. I had so many favorites that I couldn’t stay on top of all the information I was receiving on my newsfeed. I started to feel a little frantic and overwhelmed. I was also tired of seeing friend’s pics from all their travels. Their page would be silent until their next fabulous trip & then my newsfeed would be bombarded with all the pics & bragging. Frankly, it was making me unhappy and the trivial aspects of fb were becoming annoying to me, instead of it being an enjoyable experience like early on. I also didn’t like the person I was becoming, snooping thru pics of people I sometimes barely knew. That’s really none of my business. Every time I logged on facebook, I wasn’t in a happy mood. I decided to go to the library, what an old fashioned idea, and start reading again! I feel less stressed & anxious. If anyone needs to reach me, they know where I am. I don’t know how long i’ll last, as I don’t want to set up too high expectations, because I agree, the draw can be strong to go back. But right now it’s the best decision I’ve made for my own happiness & satisfaction of my own life, without comparing myself to others.

  22. It’s been over two months since I left Facebook and I can honestly say I don’t miss it at all. A business opportunity recently required me to join a Facebook group and I struggled with how to handle it since the opportunity is important to me. Finally, I realized I could delete my old profile (I haven’t missed in 2 months after all) and create a new “stealth” profile without any friends, just so I can log in and join the group. I have several Facebook pages I use for business but quite honestly I don’t even know how often I’ll be using those now that I’m back in this extremely limited way. As it is, I log on once a day to check my group, and log off. No friends so no feed and no bragging etc to bother me. So far, it’s working. :-)

    Good luck with your Facebook vacation. I set out with no expectations about what would happen and found I wasn’t missing anything. I’m sure you’ll experience your own results and will find what works for you.

    By the way, I am reading more now, too!

  23. I do belong to a facebook group, that I actually helped to create! lol But I don’t trust myself at this point to log on & go directly to that page, and not be tempted to start scrolling thru my newsfeed again. I haven’t told the group yet that I may have to remain inactive. It’s just too soon to see how strong my will power is. Deactivating the account sounds pretty final. I feel like it will cause alot of questions from my friends, and I kind of like this in-between period where my acount is still there but I’m just not using it. I like your idea about simplifying. That’s how I feel, that I’ve removed alot of clutter, too many news sources, too many opinions & views, that were kind of hindering me, and not helping. I had to stop watching alot of fear based “news magazine” type shows a few years ago & I only subscribe to one magazine. I work in media, so it’s kind of hilarious that I am following this new track.

  24. Pingback: Life Without Facebook: Part 2

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  27. It’s funny how “things” find their way to you just as you are in the midst of contemplation. I stumbled upon this great article. I have never had a FB profile until i started a business about 8 mos. ago. It was at that time i started hearing loud voices saying..”you are starting a business? YOU NEED TO HAVE A FACEBOOK PAGE!”. Okay, what do i know about social media and it’s powers of hypnotization?; i now have a profile.
    Here i am 8 mos. later wondering what the F**ck is going on!? Is it time to pull the plug on this? I cannot figure out how to do more than post puppy videos for my wife, and be doomed in the bowels of hell for eternity if i don’t type Amen to Jesus (as if he reads his own FB stream).
    If anyone out there IS running a free and successful marketing campaign through social media, please type AMEN.

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