According to CNN, Facebook had 1.86 billion active users per month at the end of 2016. In 2015, Google reported that there were 7.347 billion people on the planet. So, using those statistics, that means that roughly a quarter of the world’s population is on Facebook.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about my place in the digital world. What exactly am I doing with my social media? Am I using it wisely? Am I making it a tool for me to use or is it using me?
The answers to those questions weren’t ones I really wanted to hear.
It’s vitally important to be honest with yourself even if you’re not honest with anyone else in the world. So, I was brutally honest with myself.
I was and am addicted to Facebook and social media in general.
I was on Reddit and came across a post in the Simple Living subreddit talking about social comparison. The original poster was asking about how they could get out of comparing themselves to people they see on Facebook as well as their friends in real life. The overwhelming majority of people said for the poster to delete their Facebook account. Here’s a highlight from one response that really struck me:
In my experience, this was a direct consequence of being on Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram — anywhere where people I know in real life can spend their time posturing online). You spend so much time on those apps, and feel so often throughout the day that you should go to those apps, that the comparative thinking they inspire tends to propagate out into your life.
I really like how this person worded their comment. They’re talking all about how Facebook gets into your brain and kind of rewires it to automatically compare yourself to your friends and even to strangers on the street. How many times have you walked by someone with fancy clothes or a nice car or a pretty face and said, “Man, I wish I could have that!” For me, the number is too high to count.
I started thinking about how much this person’s post resonated with me. It lead me to the realization that Facebook is much more insidious than I thought. It’s like a snake in tall grass; you don’t realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. I didn’t realize that social media had consumed my life and my mind until it was too late to fix it.
But, I thought to myself. Is it really too late to fix this? There has to be something I can do.
And there is.
So, today, after much deliberation, I’m deleting my Facebook. For those of you who don’t know, you can either deactivate or delete your Facebook profile. The difference is that deactivation is reversible. Facebook still stores all your data, settings, photos, etc. just in case you decide you want to come back. Deletion of your Facebook account can take up to 90 days and you won’t be able to recover your information.
I decided to take the deletion route rather than the deactivation route because I know I’m likely to want to crawl back to Facebook as soon as someone mentions something cool or funny or interesting they saw on it. I want this to be a permanent life change, so I’m making it that way.
I’ll be completely honest here; I’m scared. It sounds ridiculously stupid, but I don’t know what I’m going to do if I’m not sharing little snippets and pictures of my life on a daily basis. I’ve decided to keep a private online diary so that I can still have a record of my life, but it won’t be the same as posting on social media.
Everyone knows the high you get when a post you make has a lot of likes/reblogs/retweets, etc. It feels like you matter, like you’re important. But are you really? Is it really worth that much if someone takes a millisecond to like your post? Or does it mean more to talk to your friends in real life about what’s going on with you?
For me, I think it’s the latter.
From now on, I’m going to focus on living my life, not posting it. I want to have more meaningful interactions with people and enjoy my life as it happens. And I think getting rid of Facebook (and Instagram) will help out a lot with that.
*Disclaimer: I’m not saying all people who use social media are bad. This is just what I think will work for me. I’m going to post several updates on this topic, so we’ll see how it actually goes.