I’ve been Facebook free for almost a year – and my only regret is not doing it sooner.
The decision to get rid of it wasn’t part of a weening-off process or some sort of resolution. In fact, it all happened very suddenly. After going on a very special hike through the Victorian High Plains with Mum – it felt like the most natural thing to do.
At the end of a day walking through sweeping mountain tops, woolly hillsides and treacherous weather, there was an absolute disconnect between the extremities of nature and the superficial vortex of the mindless scroll.
Lying back on my motel bed – after ten hours in the open, I remember feeling pretty icky looking at pictures of people’s breakfasts, selfies and different Saturday events. It hit me that I really didn’t care. I didn’t care what people ate for breakfast, what sort of beer people drank that afternoon or why they needed to pull a pose.
Looking back, I had toyed with the idea of deleting it for a while but I think the fear of isolation was too great. I was worried I wouldn’t be invited to different events or that I’d lose track of what was happening in Melbourne and that it would be super hard to make new friends.
This time, on a near freezing April evening in Harrietville – those doubts weren’t there. It just felt off getting sucked back into the insecurities of the social web. After a day with no technology – it was now or never.
I waited until the next day to tell Mum about my decision. Her response was one with a little surprise but a lot of affirmation.
As a very content non-Facebook user, I was always incredibly impressed by how unaffected she was by Facebook’s shadow of minutiae. In a country where 80% (15 million) of people over 15 have Facebook, she definitely felt like one of the last Mohicans. She had a healthy obliviousness to it all that I was hoping to follow.
It was a contrast to my friends – they didn’t think it would last for so long. There was very much the ‘good for you Evan’ response, see you when you’re back on!’ It took about three or so months for it to really stick – which was when the direct contact really picked-up.
So, what have been the been the biggest changes?
1. Greater happiness!
- With life outside of the blue and white shackles, I’ve cut myself off from a big part of the image-conscious world. I don’t have to worry about maintaining a ‘profile photo’, or curating an online identity. I don’t care about how many photos I’m being tagged in and what I might look like in those photos. It’s super liberating and life is lived in the ‘real world’.
2. The internet is ‘useful’ again
- Cutting out the constant scroll from my daily routine has really changed how I use the internet. When there is a moment of pause, I don’t reach for my phone to check in on the latest ‘gossip’ but I’ll either read something that I want (a an article, an email, city happenings etc.) and not about the quality of someone’s dinner from the other night.
3. More time
- I found Facebook to be a terrible distraction. It would take my head into places which were never helpful. A quick check could provide me with major news about friends or family far too indirectly – or an update on what I had ‘missed out on’. Without those mental meanders, I remember and stay much better focused on why I went online the first place. There’s definitely been a massive correlation between more time for music and writing and the elimination of one of the biggest productivity killers with work.
4. Direct conversations
- One of the things I have enjoyed the most about getting rid of Facebook is that it has created far more direct conversations. These days, I have to ask my friends (and vice versa) what’s keeping them ticking. With no ‘background’ information pinned to the ‘wall’, it’s only by asking that anyone finds out anything. On that note, it’s also made making new friends that much more fun. No one can ever lead with that creepy line ‘I saw in one of your pictures that…’
I readily admit, it is scary getting rid of Facebook. When any program or pattern becomes such a big part of your life – the sense of change can be overwhelming.
My advice: don’t overthink it! If Facebook is not making you feel great, then just get rid of it. Your world isn’t going to collapse, people won’t stop contacting you and you will still meet new people – you just might have to be a bit more direct about it.
- Walking with Mum to Mt.Feathertop – April 2017.