So - I quit Facebook 3 weeks ago. The rest of this intro is about that so scroll to the next subhead if that's boring to you (UNDERSTANDABLE).
I'd been agonising about it for literally years so I had this plan where I was going to do it and then write to you about the Experience but it was frankly such a non-event that I don't have much to say. I don't feel liberated, which I was hoping for, I just feel normal except I have an extra hour or something each day. (Except when I was on FB a lot, I didn't feel normal, I felt wound up and stressed. They say you get addicted to the dopamine hit of seeing new notifications, but I usually felt a ping of nerves like "oh no, who has said what, how will I have to manage my response" (this is partly because I posted a lot of feminist stuff on facebook and partly because of this nonsense:
What I'm saying is: it's surprisingly not a big deal, you can just do it and see what happens.
- Deactivating your account (rather than deleting) lets you keep Messenger and all your contacts, so overseas friends can still message you if they're visiting your country, and you can always reactivate your account if you're travelling or whatever.
- It's really easy to invite a non-FB person to a Facebook event if they have your email or phone number. It's just an option on the drop-down Invite menu. I recommend posting both on your wall and PMing some specific friends (the ones who usually host events) to explicitly ask them to please invite you to stuff.
- Try not to feel too worried if you miss an event. I got a lot of FOMO on facebook because I could never go to all the stuff that was on. If you're feeling like you miss your friends, the problem isn't that you didn't hear about some party, the problem is that you miss your friends, and the solution is "message your friends and organise to meet up". It doesn't actually matter if you missed any one specific event.
- Before you leave, note down a bunch of people's birthdays so you can text them on their birthday (if, like me, you relied on FB to be your memory for this). Also download all your photos etc obviously (how to).
- You are probably going to do a bunch of opening up Facebook automatically in new tabs.
- When you really want to share something, send an email or remember it for next time you see them (or start a newsletter). Do you remember the long LONG thoughtful emails we used to send?
- Some friends who quit at the same time as me have reported spending time thinking about creative projects like boardgame design for the first time in over a year.
- (If you're a performer/artist this probably not an option for you because you need it to tell people about events, I get it)
Anyway, if it feels like some momentous decision, then that's the best reason I can think of to at least try it. Why does it feel so big? Again, you can reactivate anytime, it's a minuscule, no-consequence decision to make. I cannot really reconnect with what a big deal it felt like it would be - but it definitely did. Beforehand I was trying to come up with all these "but what will I do for...?" replacement solutions and I didn't succeed but it has turned out (so far) not to matter because Facebook doesn't actually need replacing with anything. I'm still contactable on 3 different messaging apps, SMS, email and twitter; it is hardly going off the grid.
Plus, most people vaguely feel like they shouldn't be on Facebook, so when you quit, they try to support you.
One thing is that a Facebook invite is way less intense than a personal message invite. That's good and bad. But it did mean having to give some disclaimers around an invite I gave that "I'm going anyway so come along if you want but no obligation, imagine this is a Facebook invite, that's the level of intensity you should read into this".
That image is from Facebook's employee handbook and it pretty much sums up the whole thing.
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #43 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!
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