I deactivated my Facebook account. It wasn’t totally impulsive, but the day I decided to do it, I did it because I was annoyed with lots of people and lots of things and not because I was really in tune with my life goals.
Weeks ago, I’d started blocking exes on LinkedIn and Facebook, starting tightening up the privacy on my posts and pictures as much as I could, and started unsubscribing from people and even unfriending people because I just felt like I was getting too much personal information from people who wouldn’t have shared it with me if I’d bumped into them at the grocery store. I didn’t feel malicious or angry, I just felt like some relationships had run their course and it was weird for me to keep getting updates about milestones in their lives and photos of what might be some of their most intimate moments with good friends and family.
At the same time, I have been getting annoyed with myself and J for spending too much time online. Facebook time is definitely not productive time, and curating what we were posting–pictures, status updates, funny videos, articles–was really taking away from time that should have been spent writing, reading, blogging, working on The Tabletop Cook, and actually living our cool life instead of just telling people about it. Especially for me. J is very chill about Facebook. He reads the newsfeed and uses Facebook Messenger to keep in touch with friends here and back home, but he only makes posts or shares photos every couple of days, like when we take a particularly cool trip around the island. I was posting every interesting article I read, every viral video I saw, every funny joke I came across. Ironically, if we were friends, you’d probably already unsubscribed from me.
I had been wondering how it was that I was wasting so much time on Facebook when as a much younger person I remember logging onto ICQ and MSN Messenger and rarely having conversations with anyone else, at least not substantive ones. It occurred to me that Facebook wasn’t actually a good fit for me, that it’s unnatural for me to spend so much time interacting with other people, even if it’s not in real life. At the same time, I have been recognizing that I am much more of an introvert than I ever realized. Maybe interacting with all those other people, all the time, was actually unhealthy for me because I wasn’t really getting the deep solitude I need to recharge, and feeling like I could never escape friends and family, no matter how much I love them, was making me feel resentful.
I only deactivated my account, which is kind of a bitch move because everything goes back to how it was as soon as I log back on again. And I did log back on again, for four minutes about a week after I’d deactivated my account, because a good friend was coming into town and I wasn’t sure if she had any other way of reaching me. The first post on my newsfeed was pictures of an estranged family member cuddling my baby niece, which I’d rather not have seen. I also had 40 updates, none of which were even real interactions from my friends. After sending her my cell phone number, I deactivated the account again and felt extremely good about the decision.
I haven’t regretted it for a minute. I noticed right away how often I was logging on out of sheer habit, as every time my students went on break or I was waiting in line, I pulled out my phone and only remembered as I was looking for the familiar icon that I had removed the Facebook app from my phone. But I’ve been able to commit with a lot of success to my 10pm bedtime so I can get up earlier, since I get so much more done in the morning before I go to work than I do in the evenings when I’m burnt out from teaching English. I read two books the week I stopped using Facebook, when the last little self-help tome I’d tried to read took me nearly a month. I googled exercise videos and healthy recipes and how to care for my bonsais without constantly checking in to see pictures of a college classmate’s new SUV or an old high school teacher’s new grandkids. I haven’t seen a cute animal video in ages, and I have to check an actual news site for what’s going on in the world instead of relying on my newsfeed. I’ve emailed friends and family, come up with a new game plan for The Tabletop Cook, picked out my clothes for the next day, and did the dishes before bed. I don’t want to make grand promises about never using Facebook again, but for the moment, why would I?
8/12/14 update: J asked me to reactivate my account for our trip around the island so he could tag me in photos and whatnot, so I did. I didn’t reinstall the Facebook app on my phone until the three-week trip was almost over. Since we got back a few days ago, I noticed I’ve been spending time on Facebook again, mostly reading gaw.kr articles and weird news stories from China. But I don’t want to! I blocked Facebook on my computer tonight and if I try to log on, it redirects to Vanguard.com, which helps to remind me to stay focused on my goals. Incidentally, imgur.com redirects to Mr. Money Mustache if I try to look at it on my computer. I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone at the moment, either, as it’s easy enough to reinstall, but also enough of a pain in the butt that I won’t do it unless I am really keen to be annoyed with myself.