Life After Facebook

I had been inching toward my own Facebook cliff since about October, and when I happened upon this article about stress and Facebook, it brought me right to the edge. If you don’t want to click the link (and I totally don’t blame you, nor do I want you to deviate from this awesome article to read some others chump’s) it basically argues that Facebook’s “blunt platform” means the more friends you have, the more probable it is that something you post will offend (or be cause for judgement from) one or several of your connections. This makes sense as you would probably not divulge all of the facts regarding your 18-hour champagne and Red Bull new year’s binge which ended with you waking up on the hood of a beat-up ’86 Camry in the Tenderloin using someone else’s shoe as a pillow to your boss; whereas you may piece together the glory as best you can to your mates.

Naturally, after reading the article, I posted it. A few ‘likes’ and a snarky comment was enough for me to make the decision to take the plunge; I just didn’t know when. The inevitability of my leaving Facebook ironically offered a slight reprieve to my stress during which I clung to the comfort of my paltry notifications. I carried on for a bit like usual, doling out ‘likes’ and proffering unsolicited grammatical tips. But in the back of my mind a lump of angst grew. I started to feel a bit helpless. I started to feel like a passenger and not the driver in these frequent visits to Facebook. The previous joy of seeing what the world was up to was now accompanied by an inkling of panic as I saw myself doing something simply out of habit and not for the sake of need or pleasure. My view of the Facebook world became increasingly misanthropic and hypocritical as I criticized the quotidian platitudes being chronicled while taking a picture of my Oscar Meyer bologna sandwich to be posted. Once you hate seeing what you love producing, you know you got problems.

not sure if MEMES LIKE LOVE

The routine of opening a new tab, going to bookmarks, clicking Facebook, waiting for the page to load and seeing if the first post on the feed was new, and scrolling down anyway for the umpteenth time, seeing again and again the same crap, from the same small group of active posters…had been so automatized that I caught myself doing it even when I had set out to check something on Google while working. Realizing that repetition for a number of years of a seemingly innocuous series of mouse clicks had actually messed up a part of my brain–the part that allows me to stay focused for literally two seconds as I carry out a task that is important to my work–was just what I needed to hold my nose and jump.

So I quit. Or ‘deactivated’ to be current with Facebook nomenclature. This means I can go back and resume any time I want, but to present I have had no such urges. So far, missing out on tons of social media happenings is being severely outweighed by simply not caring about such things. And what a relief it is not to have to pretend to care either! Not to offend my actual friends who post on Facebook, but even when I was onboard, I hardly clicked any of the shit that was posted. I confess: most ‘likes’ came without clicking, YouTube videos not featuring cats went largely unseen, memes and other sassy eCards were appreciated but not shared, posts longer than a few lines were skimmed at best, pictures of food made my hungry so were–by and large–ignored, articles…articles were probably clicked, but no doubt only 10% were read before their tab was closed.

One thing that I did appreciate looking at were photos. Which brings me to my present dilemma. I want to share my photos, but not with 363 people. Namely, I want to show things to my very close friends and family. My wife suggested I look into some of the other myriad social platforms out there, especially those that aim to cure the all-my-friends-in-one-bucket blues. But that just seems like curing a stomach ache by jabbing a stick in your eye. I could use Picasa or Flickr or some other photo sharing tool but their current interfaces are a bit rudimentary and it would be another thing I would have to teach my mom how to use. I have thought about using this blog to output our goings on, but I would have to change templates to one that is more photo friendly. And that is just not going to happen.

At present I am enjoying my simple Facebook-less life. I feel less burdened and generally glad I jumped ship. For one, I have more time to work (or write blog posts), two, I am less distracted when I work, and lastly, the wife can tell me things from Facebook without me rolling my eyes because that news was so five minutes ago. I still have to figure out how to include my family and friends who are very far away in my life, but, for now, I think the wife will just do the posting.

Success kid QUIT FB

14 comments

  1. Brandon

    dude. i’ve approached the same cliff several times for similar reasons (hugely harmful to my attention span, does not add much of substance to my attempts to keep up with the goings-on of good friends) but have yet to pull the trigger. i am glad you took the jump first and landed seemingly satisfied. it saddens me though, that i will miss out on contemporaneous updates from those few close friends of mine who live very far away from me (ahem). perhaps group email chains are a worthy substitute, especially among those who wield the written word as skillfully as yourself? in any event, yours are among the few “status updates” i will miss, my friend. cat videos and all.

    • Mr. Brandon,
      Thanks for the comment, I had you in mind as you have reminded me more than a handful of times, much to my amusement mind you, when I decided to take myself off FB. I appreciate your kind words and your loyal following of my scribbles. Rest assured that we will have a streamlined way of keeping in touch better. More deets to come. Take care, dude.

  2. M

    Snapjoy! Git it.
    Greetings from North Carolina & we loved your postcard :)

    • Greetings and I will have to look that one up. Is that the app everyone is touting as the sexting app? :P

      • M

        -.,-
        It’s an online library where you can import all of your pics from other social media sites and/or upload new albums. Everything is private by default, and you can choose which albums people can see by sending links (or even specific pics within an album). The people you share photos with don’t need an account to be able to view your pics.
        I’m also leery of Facebook, and keep my posts and likes to a minimum. The main reason why I stick around is for the photo-sharing. However, my privacy lists for each album are such a hassle to deal with. Hopefully, this Snapjoy thing will enable me to move all my pics and finally extricate myself from the ole FB.
        Well, I’ll also miss seeing your posts but I’m up for postcard exchanges and old-fashioned email, send me your address!

      • Hey hey M,
        I got Snapjoy and Snapchat mixed up…must have been the article on the latter I just read on Mashable :)
        Anyway, I looked it up and it seems cool, but they are no longer accepting registration…it seems they are moving from Beta to actual operation and will therefore probably start to charge a nominal fee beyond a free, small account. I’ll send our address over email (the new snail mail lol) Miss you guys!

  3. Adam

    I remember when you posted that article. It’s interesting, especially given some of the reactions/discussions I’ve gotten in recent months with some of my political posts and whatnot. I guess I was never overly concerned with offending facebook friends, though I have always tried to use language that I felt was courteous, knowing full well there would be a number of my facebook friends, especially those more from my past (you know where I grew up), that might be offended. I found that during the political season, I actually engaged with more of those people, in discussions I felt were productive though at times heated. I felt that through those discussions, I actually managed to re-establish stronger relationships by engaging in dialogue.

    I do agree however, that facebook is loosing its usefulness and practicality in a very real way as it becomes less of what I would consider a social network and is almost “institutionalized.” I do tire of using it for work, especially as I feel it becomes increasingly ineffective, as it decreases my enjoyment or desire to use it more for personal reasons. Even though I’m on Facebook quite regularly for work, I have decreased my “work related” posts recently, as I no longer felt they accomplished anything. So, admittedly, I end up using Facebook more for personal reasons during the work day, than for work reasons (hence why I clicked on Amaia’s post of your blog while at work and am typing here).

    My problem with the possibility of deactivating my facebook, in addition to the picture sharing you mentioned that I very much value, is that I would lose a convenient method of communication with people overseas with whom I have no other form of contact (e.g. you and others far flung around the world). But I also use it to follow some of my old friends here in the states that I can’t always connect with on the phone because of life situations (i.e. they have kids) and out of practicality. I have the fortunate blessing of still having many good friends from high school. Some of them I see on the rare occasion (if I’m lucky), but otherwise I do not get to interact with much, so Facebook becomes a way to keep in touch more consistently through chat or periodic messages. While that isn’t really different from email and texting in the end, Facebook is often more convenient for that.

    I also fear deactivating my account would affect certain professional connections I have and maintain via Facebook, especially as I look for the next opportunity in the near future. LinkdIn does provide this in some sense, but not all of those people I currently am in contact with via Facebook are on LinkdIn, at least actively, posing yet another dilemma.

    To be honest though, I wish I could unplug from Facebook as easily as you have done. It is decreasingly useful and increasingly, as you put it, a time-suck. It doesn’t stress me out as the article suggests, but is certainly a burden at times, and I envy your ‘liberation’ in that regard. Alas, I’m always happy to email you in your newfound liberation.

    • Hey Adam,
      Thanks for the great comment. Whereas I was interested in the political scene during the elections, I was turned off by all of the noise that was coming from FB from all sides. It was too much of a chore to separate the wheat from the chaff and all attempts left me fuming. I am glad you were able to reconnect and re-establish your standing relationships with old pals.

      The work aspect of FB is a tough one too, the thought of accessing all those people is usually enough to keep people posting, but I feel with the wishy-washy privacy policies that seem to change with every Zuckerberg fart, it’s too time consuming to stay on top of to whom you are emitting which message and post. I tried getting my contacts organized and changing the settings but that led to a catastrophe where nobody could see me and then I was totally public and then, and then, and then…

      I do regret, though I failed to mention in the post, the loss of connectivity with my close friends. It was sort of bundled in the photo sharing bit but was not explicitly touched upon. That, is a hard one to figure out. The thing is, as I think of alternate solutions to my wanting to stay close with people, FB tops the list in efficacy despite its flaws. Sharing anything is much easier in FB, as you say. Short of making several accounts each with a highly limited number of friends/contacts, I see no really simple solution to this. LinkedIn is nice, but I have only posted one article and commented on one chat/conversation, I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s a bit sterile and fluorescent-lighty for me.

      Either way, I know that I will have to find a solution some time, I am a social beast and I do like to know what is going on, just, perhaps, not right now due to my being jaded by the social media machine. I will probably come back in some time, if not only to manage the company FB page–though I fear a full-blown return would be imminent if I come back too soon :)

      Hope you are well, thanks again for the thoughtful comment and we’ll keep in touch, one way or another.

      Cheers,
      Dustin

  4. Eva

    I completely relate and often think of taking the plunge as well. I really miss all the articles you post, every single one has always been super interesting and I always read 90% of them in their entirety. Maybe you could have a blog just for interesting articles you find! ;-)

    • Hi Eva,

      Thanks for the comment, and sorry for not getting back to your email. You emailed the day we left for Spain and by then I was offline :) I always enjoyed your support of my postings; I remember when you gave me a shout-out saying that I posted interesting stuff, that compliment will stay with me :)

      As for the interesting comment, as I mentioned to Adam above, I will probably be back at least to manage the Z^2 page, there I can post more articles and memes and other good stuff.

      Big hugs from your favorite place, Zurich :)
      Hope you are well,

      Dustin

  5. You are the man, chief. Although I have consider doing it myself (as I think many of us have at some point or another), I have not found the NEED to disconnect YET (although I am probably in denial). I have missed your posts and contributions to our forums, but I am confident these will continue enlightening and/or entertaining other more worthy spaces. Big hug, Dustiño, and all the best in all of your personal and professional projects.

    • Hey there, Daniel,

      Thanks for stopping by. I miss contributing to the forums as well but there is enough talent out there that I am sure my absence won’t get in the way of progress, heh heh. Keep up the good work there, if there is no need, there is no need; besides, if you left, what would the forum do without an admin?!?
      Hope all is well and I wish you a happy 2013, good luck with your company!

      Best,
      Dustin

  6. Ha! Sorry, Adam, I just got to this. Nice article and scary. Though, I would argue that they aren’t ‘attempting’ with some people :)
    How’s things?

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