After mulling over it for months (years) I finally permanently deleted my Facebook, thereby removing all social media from my life.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- I am shocked by how nosy and gossipy I really was. I had already hidden at least 80% of my newsfeed because the content was either distracting or irrelevant. I thought I was doing a great job by not worrying about what kind of Friday night hundreds of random people were having. But now, even if it’s seemingly for a “good reason,” I can’t just “look someone up.” If I care to know more about a person I actually have to reach out and ask or wait for them to reach out to me.
- I have so much more time and mental space. When I had social media, I was a relatively mild user. I shared very little overall, I deleted Instagram a long time ago, and I didn’t have social media apps on my phone. And yet, Facebook was the first thing I would go to when I picked up my phone or opened my computer. I would scroll mindlessly even though my newsfeed wasn’t that interesting. It was still a newsfeed. It would always be a black hole. And now? I check my email and texts and respond to them. And then I go back to my life! The house is cleaner. My to-do list is shorter. And my mind is far clearer.
- I feel disconnected. In a good way. Social media is full of people trying to simplify their lives and disconnect from the onslaught of modernity. People are moving to the country, growing their own vegetables, homeschooling, homesteading, etc. I’m generally a big fan of this movement. But I can’t help feeling like the very same social media platform that has popularized and spread the home-and-hearth movement is a huge, contradicting obstacle standing in the way of it. No matter what wholesome lifestyle and familial habits I was adopting, social media always meant that the other world was there at my fingertips. I was never alone. I could reconnect easily and quickly with anyone, no matter how far away I was physically. But that’s not always a good thing. I think we need a little disconnection. We need to feel a little lonely, a little out in the middle of nowhere sometimes. We need silence that cannot be broken. Knowing that social media was available always allowed me a way out of the silence.
- What I share and what I don’t share feels more natural and I don’t have to fret over it. The truth is, so many of the things I saw on social media were actually quite inspiring and uplifting. And I liked sharing things that I thought might inspire other people. But I’m a mother now, so a lot of my life involves raising my kids. I knew that there was a huge difference between sharing the occasional sweet picture and documenting tons of polished pictures and personal details for hundreds of people, essentially turning my children into little celebrities. But where was the line? Personally, I could never figure it out. Most of all, I no longer wanted to. There’s already enough to worry about with parenting and life in general.
- The smartphone is not necessarily your problem. But social media might be. For years I have been trying to greatly minimize the screen time in our house. With cable, apps and games, TV and movies, etc. this hasn’t been too difficult. But, no matter what kind of boundaries I set for myself, the smartphone always felt like an appendage. Finally, now that social media is totally gone from my life, the smartphone is mostly just a convenient gadget. It’s just not that interesting anymore (to me— I won’t dare let my toddlers get their hands on it)! I’m not saying the smartphone doesn’t have its own temptations. It certainly does, in varying amounts for various people. But— I imagine, for people like me in my stage of life, social media is one of the main temptations— the thing that makes it a portal to another world and a way to escape the one you’re actually living in.
Now, I don’t think social media is evil or that everyone should get off of it. I think it can bring about a lot of good. I also know that, for some people, social media is a huge necessity in the success of their businesses or even the only legitimate way to keep up important relationships. In some ways, it is a luxury to be able to give it up. All I’m saying is that I do think it can be quite detrimental to mental and emotional well-being and that if you can give it up— if the sacrifices are relatively minor inconveniences— then it’s probably worth those sacrifices.