The Complexities of Quitting Facebook and 99 Days of Freedom

I started thinking about leaving Facebook during my final semester of university. I was tasked with writing my final paper—ten to twenty pages of my own theory (no big deal), and like every other time I had a paper to write or an assignment to work on, no matter how close it’s due date loomed, I found myself unable to resist scrolling and re-scrolling through my Facebook news feed. When the thought of quitting dawned on me, naturally, I put it on the back burner and started working on my paper devoted (read: wasted) a good chunk of time to thinking about it and googling it and trying to find an acceptable alternative for receiving all of my news sources in a new place (which, short of joining another social network and just not adding friends, is pretty much impossible because many websites and blogs have stopped offering RSS feeds, replacing them with social network links instead).

Since I joined Facebook in 2007 I’ve flirted with other social networks that seem popular. I had an Instagram account for a brief moment that I suppose still exists out there in all its pet-centric glory; I looked into tumblr once but (at the risk of sounding old and ridiculous) I didn’t really get it; I signed up for Pinterest and pinned a couple of “Cool Things I Like” before quickly losing interest (ha!); and I opened a Twitter account (even though I didn’t really ‘get’ it either). I also jumped onto the Google+ train for about five minutes, tried to delete it immediately and learned that Google now owns another little piece of my online existence. Forever. None of these other networks stuck; to me, they were full of strangers—unknown humans sitting on the other side of computer screens providing me with superficial, impersonal interactions, ‘validating’ my thoughts, opinions and appearance by ‘liking’ my posts and pictures. In 2007 Facebook seemed more personal since the people on the other side of the computer screens were people I knew in real life and had fact-to-face relationships with. I also moved away from home in 2007 and Facebook seemed like the most brilliant way to keep my family and friends apprised of my day-to-day life, all in one place.

Skip ahead seven years; Facebook in 2014 is now not only a place where I can connect with people I know in real life, but I can also receive news from countless sources, send and receive event invites and pretty much document my every mood. (Forever). The problem, however, is in the (illusory) ‘connection.’. As a person who doesn’t make friends easily in real life, who doesn’t attend many events or parties and who doesn’t often speak up in mixed company, offering my radical (read: different) opinions, making people uncomfortable, I’ve used Facebook as a platform for doing exactly that. I’ve used it to share articles with my thoughts about them and to post statuses about (global, local, political and personal) issues that are important to me. How great, right? But, therein lies the issue. Because Facebook is a somewhat public platform from which I can address a large number of people at once, a couple of things are happening that have essentially lessened the positivity of my Facebook experience (call me sensitive). One thing that’s happening when I write a strongly-worded post about an issue is that I am essentially bombing people with my personal thoughts and opinions without anyone expressing any interest in knowing; it’s like unsolicited information just splatting across unsuspecting news feeds about all kinds of issues, mostly political and often ones that I feel passionate about. Another thing that’s happening is because of the ‘public’-style platform, no one person is obligated to engage in a particular conversation with me, leaving my passionate thoughts to sink to the bottoms of news feeds, ignored and forgotten. This has happened to me on many occasions—I post a paragraph about something that gets me hot under the collar and I wait to see if anyone agrees, disagrees, or cares at all. And I admit, when none of my ‘friends’ engage with me about something I’ve posted (that’s particularly important to me for whatever reason), I have the overwhelming feeling that no one cares, and then I feel let down. I feel let down that I’ve put thought and energy into crafting a post about something that matters to me and that my ‘friends’ feel no obligation to engage in dialogue about it. It really bums me out, and it is one of the main reasons I want to leave Facebook (the others being the immense amount of time I spend waste on it, as well as Facebook’s terms and conditions, which I have obviously never read but that nonetheless make me generally uncomfortable).

So then, just quit already, right? But here is where it becomes complex for me—some people (three out of forty, actually) have expressed disappointment in my decision. Some say they like the things I post and others say it’s their main method of communicating and connecting with friends and family. (The fact that only three people out of forty ‘friends’ —four, if you count one supportive response—said anything though just further fuels my plan to quit). These comments made me take a step back again and think about it, and until this morning I was still unsure of what I would do.

Before today I had taken all the necessary steps to keep in touch with the people, news and blogs that I want to keep up with; I posted a message with my email address and asked people to share their contact information with me, I downloaded a (gorgeous!) RSS Feed app for my mac and I opened a Twitter account (that I will never add ‘friends’ to) so that I can still access a feed of all the news sources and blogs I enjoy that don’t offer an RSS Feed option (as per my comment above regarding the near impossibility of receiving all of your desired news and blogs in one place without using some social networking platform).

After doing all this I was still hesitant, until I saw something about an hour ago about a challenge called “99 Days Of Freedom,” which entails changing your profile picture the The Challenge’s ’99 Days” logo, uploading “your last link,” which is a ninety-nine day countdown informing your ‘friends’ of your absence, logging off and loving life. I will apparently be contacted after thirty-three, sixty-six and ninety-nine days with a survey about my level of general happiness and overall experience of living Facebook-free. Due to my hesitation about permanently deleting my Facebook account, this sounded like an ideal situation for me and I did it immediately.

So here I am, on the first of ninety-nine days of freedom from Facebook and feeling rather liberated. I plan to look into creating a flickr account in order to share photos with the people who are interested in them via email, and I am loving my RSS Feed (it’s ONLY exactly what I want to read!) I also have a request for my readers: in the never ending effort to continuously expand my readership, I would be grateful if you would continue to read and share Here Is Thirty blog posts via email and on your social networks, and for now, I will continue to allow wordpress.com to automatically post to the Here Is Thirty Facebook page, although I won’t be checking it for comments, etc. (You can ‘like’ or comment on blog posts at the bottom of each post on the blog site). But basically, please, just keep sharing!

I will report back about this after my thirty-three day survey!

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12 thoughts on “The Complexities of Quitting Facebook and 99 Days of Freedom

  1. I think I might try that. Do you remember your cousin who left fb years ago sighting it as a shallow means of connecting with people? She gave everyone her email address and said if people really wanted to stay in touch with her, that would be the venue to use. I have no idea where she is or what she’s doing. I guess she proved her point and has less people in her virtual world but maybe more substantial relationships in her earth world?

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    1. I do remember that, and I also lost touch with her. One reason is that she changed her email address. I’ve already encountered a moment yesterday when someone else was looking at Facebook and there was a video I was interested in, and without logging on, I have no way of finding it. But…I survived just fine without seeing it so…

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  2. Do you think it’s ironic that when quitting one information sucking forum, another one will gather personal information from you, about you, three times during the 99 days and use it for…..what? These are thoughts that trouble me.

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