MinimalisMay 5: Should I just quit Facebook?

I’m doing a series of posts this month documenting my journey to start exploring a minimalist lifestyle. MinimalisMay will explore what minimalism means to me and how I’m incorporating it into my life. And it’s all from a novice’s perspective, so there will be a lot of learning as I go!

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Last week, I wrote about the different types of “clutter” that appear in our lives, beyond the obvious physical stuff that usually comes to mind when we think about decluttering and minimalism. I explained that the these other types of clutter are just as important (if not more so) than physical clutter and that I don’t think physical stuff is my biggest source of clutter.

Whenever I think about the things that weigh me down and stand in the way of living a minimalist lifestyle, the first thing that comes to mind is social media and all the mindless information I consume on the internet.

To be candid here, I think a lot of us are in denial about how addicted we are to social media. It seems so harmless – I’m just checking real quick to see this one thing – but I bet we would all be shocked to learn the actual amount of time in minutes, hours and days we spend staring at our screens, scrolling through feeds, looking for nothing in particular.

And this bothers me. Not because there is anything wrong with social media, but because I am wasting the one resource I can never get back – my time

If someone were to tally up how much time I actually spend on social media per day, week, month…my first thought (other than sheer horror) would be, how else could I have been spending that time? What could I have been doing instead that would actually contribute to my goals and dreams and the life I want for myself?

The point here isn’t to be all “DOWN WITH THE INTERNETS!!11!”; I’m actually trying to approach this from a more practical level and ask myself “where can I make some cuts and eliminate some ‘dead weight’ to simplify my social media usage?”

I’m in the process of making my Summer Bucket List, even though I still have about a month to go on my Spring Bucket List. Spoiler alert: one of the things that I’m 99% sure will be on the summer list is a digital detox in July, which will mean no Facebook, no Insta, and maybe even no blogging for the whole month.

I did this two years ago as part of my Year of Living Without, and I loved it. My no-Facebook month was hands-down my favorite part of that project. The month was July, hence the reason I want to do July again. July 2014 was full of awesome summery goodness and the time without FB flew by; summer is the time of year when there is so much going on and I have no excuse not to get out, unplug, and live.

Yesterday as I was waiting for the bus, the thought hit me like a sack of potatoes: why not just give it up completely?

Facebook…isn’t want it used to be, guys. It seems that the more interesting content is gradually moving to other platforms, reducing the ol’ royal blue and white screen to a social media junkyard of comments sections and overshared memes/articles and other mass-generated content. I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer people seem to be using Facebook to share personal updates and connections – they just share third-party stuff. And this is to say nothing of the abomination that is the “trending topics” feature.

And I don’t even use it that much. 99% of what I post on Facebook is from my Instagram account or this blog anyway. And it seems like fewer people in my network read or pay attention to it. My Insta pics get some feedback, but there are crickets chirping when I share my blog posts. I don’t take it personally because, to be perfectly honest, the feeling is mutual lately.

Facebook doesn’t make me happy. It makes me unhappy. I don’t feel like I get anything out of it anymore, and yet, I still find myself wasting time on there. If it’s such a time suck and makes me feel so “blah”…what’s stopping me from just cutting the cord already?

The same thing that stops us from getting rid of clothes we don’t wear or walking away from unfulfilling friendships – fear of the unknownWhat if I want to wear it again? What if I need it later? What if I’m just not trying hard enough to get into that person’s life? What if what if what if what if

When I think about quitting Facebook, my hesitations sound like this:

What about the events that are organized through Facebook that I might miss out on?

What about the people I would lose touch with since Facebook is the only platform we can connect on?

What about people who may want to get in touch with me but can’t find me?

Oh and what about…actually, you know what, that’s pretty much it. So what’s stopping me?

There are actually very, very few events I’ve been interested in that I need Facebook to be in the loop for (ah, the perks of being an introvert, lol). Most of them have either had a corresponding email component, OR Kevin is also invited so I can stay in the loop through him.

For the people I would miss being in touch with, I can reach out to them personally and ask for email or phone numbers. Or in some cases, I could just…let go. While there are people from my past I enjoy following on Facebook, I wouldn’t say we really keep in touch to the point where we would miss each other.

I think if two people want or need to find each other that badly, they will find a way to make it happen. We may be social media addicts, but we’re not idiots. I’m not that hard to find. My friends and family are all on Facebook, I have a blog and an Instagram, and my email is my first initial and last name (so is my Insta handle). I’m far from being “off the grid.”

There’s always the possibility of missing out on a connection when you walk away from something. But maybe it’s worth it? Should I really stay on a social media platform I don’t like because I’m holding my breath for some unbelievable connection or experience that is probably just not going to happen? Life doesn’t happen in our “what if’s”, guys – life is what’s happening RIGHT NOW. And RIGHT NOW I feel like I am missing out on a lot of life by using social media to distract myself from it.

I suppose it sounds like I’ve made a decision, but, I’m still chewing on it. I’ll hang around for a while and as my July detox approaches, I’ll think about whether I want to make some of those changes permanent.

In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts:

Have you ever done a digital detox or social media break? How did it go?

Which social media platforms do you use?

I’m on Facebook, this blog, and Instagram. I used to have Twitter but I deleted it last year because I NEVER used it and none of my friends were on it.

Do you feel you spend too much time on social media?

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29 thoughts on “MinimalisMay 5: Should I just quit Facebook?

  1. Haha I love this. Mrs Schlub and I are in the midst of a Facebook purge right now. Deleting those that we don’t have a personal connection with. Plus anyone on my feed that reposts endless crap, I take them off my feed. But I agree 100%, far too much time is spent on social media…I use Facebook for family/friends, then I use instagram and Twitter solely for professional runner updates and pictures:)

    1. I have to admit I do love being able to follow celebs on Twitter/Insta. It’s so fascinating to get a glimpse into their day to day lives. Good luck with your purge 🙂

  2. Your reflections and thoughts this month are making me think long and hard about my life too…in a good way though 🙂 For that, I thank you so much!! I’ve never taken a break from social media before bc mostly I felt like a might miss out on some events or family updates but it really does consume wayyyy too much of my time. I still don’t know that I would give it up completely (I’m one of the leaders in the Fueled by Doughnuts run group on FB which is our primary form of communication), but this does make me think about ways that I can limit any extra time I might be wasting too much of on social media. Hmmm…then again, giving something up more completely kinda forces you to embrace life in a different way.
    Anyways, thanks for this. Just thought you should know I love your creativity and thinking, Hanna and I’m enjoying reading these May posts of yours 🙂

    1. Aww thanks Charissa! Glad someone out there is enjoying my ramblings 😉

      It seems like “FOMO” is the thing that holds everyone back from giving up on social media. And it’s understandable. It’s such a huge force in our lives that giving it up would really make one an outcast in a lot of ways. Some people would handle that better than others. A lot of people cite the keeping in touch with family concern, which is totally valid. I always think of my boyfriend’s family. He has a huge family and his parents are often sort of at the epicenter of all the drama and goings-on. They’ve never had FB (his mom doesn’t even have a cell phone) and they manage to stay incredibly well connected given the size of that family. Facebook is a great way to connect because it’s easy, but it’s not the only way. I honestly think that people who really want to stay in touch will find ways to do so. But if anyone likes and legitimately enjoys FB, more power to ’em. That’s really the whole point.

  3. My family – especially older members – and good friends who are scattered across the country are on FB, so I won’t be getting rid of it. I think the problem lies in how we use it. Are you “friends” with a lot of people you barely know? I use the “hide” feature to hide a lot of people I don’t care to keep in touch with, and I unfriend people regularly to keep my page uncluttered. I like the articles I read on FB because my friends post things across all gamuts of interest – my old physics teacher posts a lot of science stuff; my friends post political updates; my family keeps each other updated on health stuff, etc. For me, it’s very useful. But I don’t have time to scroll through things I don’t care about, so I hide and unfriend people without a second thought. I keep my FB uncluttered haha.

    Now, my blogfeed is another story. I think I follow too many bloggers and I have a hard time narrowing it down!

    1. I don’t think it’s as simple as just unfollowing people – which, yes, I am aware of and have tried. I also have long kept my friends list relatively small. While hiding, etc does help, it doesn’t cure the problem. If someone I follow likes or comments on something, that shows up on my newsfeed. Same thing with when people post things in a group I follow. And, let’s face it, some of the people I want to follow because we’re friends/family are also heavy sharers and we have different interests. Nothing wrong with that, but, if I want to keep following them that stuff comes with the territory too. The lack of control over what comes into my feed on Facebook vs Instagram or the blog world is why it’s my least favorite platform.

      Anyway, my point wasn’t just “I don’t like what other people post on Facebook,” but rather that I’m spending a disproportionate amount of time on something that doesn’t make me happy or enhance my life, and I’m thinking about ways to change that. I think the fact that my last FB hiatus went so well is very telling. It’s great that you and others enjoy Facebook and find value in using it. It can be a great platform in the right hands. I agree with you that it’s all about how we use it – but as I mentioned, I barely even use it, and I don’t use it productively, so maybe it’s time to reevaluate. I have a feeling I wouldn’t miss it much.

      I do agree about blog feeds, though. I also could afford to cut back on the blogs I follow.

  4. Facebook in particular isn’t a problem for me, but I could REALLY stand to cut down on my internet time period. I feel like I’m always checking something or mindlessly surfing the web when it’s time I could be really focusing on my kids or husband. The mindless (hmm, perhaps the fact that the word mindless came to me twice in a few short sentences should tell me something!) entertainment factor is part of what I like about it – it gives me an excuse to procrastinate on things I don’t want to do, or a mental break when I’m tired. Like most things I think it’s fine in moderation, but it definitely has an addictive quality for me.

    1. Mindless entertainment definitely has its place. I mean, we can’t all be SRS BIZNSS all the time. But, to me, there’s just something more troubling about the mindlessness of internet stuff versus the mindlessness of, say, watching a movie or TV or playing games or whatever. I don’t know what it is. I just feel like I expend so much more energy on mindless information consumption than I do on mindless TV watching. And I think it’s because the TV show is just acting, but the mindlessness on the internet is a reminder of how much mindlessness has permeated our culture and our lives. Maybe I’m just overthinking it. I am prone to that, after all.

      1. Yes! I totally agree with your description of the mindlessness of TV vs the internet. There is something that seems “worse” about the internet. Maybe because it always with you? You can’t go out and not see someone buried in their phone while out to dinner, on an airplane, driving, etc. Whereas with TV it’s somewhat limited.

  5. I have the opposite problem–I feel like I should spend *more* time on social media. I’m constantly amazed at all the bloggers who are also very active in other platforms. With limited time, I can be active on only one platform, and that’s blogging. I gave up trying to be on Twitter and just auto post on there. Pinterest I use like once every other month, if that. Facebook is different not because I don’t have the time for it but because I HATE it. Like, with a passion. I have an account but never sign in because it irritates me too much. I also set up a page for my blog but never did anything with it. I do feel bad when people finally find another email address for me after trying to send me messages on FB for months without getting a response. The only reason I haven’t deactivated my account is that sometimes companies offer discounts on their FB pages. But I probably should just deactivate!

    1. That’s really interesting that you want to spend MORE time on social media! Is it because you want to be more connected to friends and family, or because you feel like you have to as a blogger? I also am amazed at what a presence some bloggers have on social media. It’s not like you can just copy and paste the same thing to each platform: they’re all different and you have to tailor the message for each one. That’s a lot of work! Maybe if I didn’t have a full time job and other things going on I’d be up for the challenge but honestly it’s just too much time and work for me. I’ve really only grown my blog via my network within the blogosphere.

      I’ve thought about keeping my FB but just never checking it but, like you said, that’s basically the same thing as deactivating so I might as well just pull the trigger in that case.

      1. It’s because I feel like I should as a blogger. 😦 I feel like I’m not a good blogger if I’m not doing all the things. BUT, you inspired me. I’ve deleted my FB blog page and deactivated my personal account. It feels GREAT!

    2. WHOA! Haha that’s awesome! You’ll have to come back in a few weeks/a month and give an update on FB free life (although I guess you were technically already FB free 🙂 )

  6. I have actually been thinking about deactivating my Facebook lately. I realized I barely post on it and I agree 100% with there not really being any quality content in my newsfeed. I want to see pictures and posts from my friends, not shared content or posts that friends have liked from other companies/people. It’s kind of just a hot mess (very cluttered!) and I don’t spend much time on it anymore. Not to mention all of those friend requests I haven’t responded to from people I went to high school with that somehow think we should be friends on there now. I guess the upside to Facebook is that you don’t actually delete your account, you deactivate it. So you could always deactivate it and if you ever want to go back you can! I think I’m going to do one big clean out of my friend list (hey it was cool we were in that one thing together that one time years ago, but I don’t care about that meme you shared) and seeing if that improves my experience first.

    1. Haha well since we are clearly on the same page I don’t have much to add! Except that yeah, the thing with old high school/college acquaintances is weird to me. There’s something I find troubling about knowing all about the life and day-to-day happenings of someone I haven’t talked to in years and have no relationship with. It’s this weird feeling of, “you’re not a part of my life, and yet, you’re still in it…does not compute…” I am FB friends with a few old high school buddies that, admittedly, I don’t really talk to anymore but I keep that list very limited to people I was actually close with in HS. But still, I don’t talk to them anymore, I should really just let go. If we wanted to be in touch we would have done so by now.

      I also agree with you that I’m going to take the next month to do a more thorough “purge” and see if that helps. Part of me feels like that’s the equivalent of saying “well instead of getting rid of this sweater I don’t wear what if I just put it up on the top shelf of my closet just in case?” But I think it’s a good compromise to give myself a timeline and see if my purge works, and then by a certain date I have to decide.

      1. I’m hoping by purging my friend list (or should I say de-cluttering?!) I will see content I’m actually interested in seeing on my newsfeed so maybe I won’t waste so much time clicking here and there trying to actually find something I want to see!

  7. I could do without Facebook. I don’t really care how a friend of a friend reacted to a post or what news stories are currently trending. The only reason I keep it is because all of my local running friends use it for organizing group runs and I like being a part of those group runs.

    1. I have to admit, because I have some groups like that on FB too, the group thing is sort of maddening. I get that FB is a ridiculously easy way for groups to organize and communicate but man do I hate that I could easily quit FB if not for this ONE group. The community garden we just joined has a FB group and that is literally the only way to keep in touch with the group and organizers. No website, no email list, just Facebook. If I decide to deactivate I may just have Kevin join the group so he can keep up to date. I mean, not that there’s a ton of breaking news in the community garden world…

  8. If it makes you unhappy more than it makes you happy, get rid of it for sure! My boyfriend doesn’t have Facebook, and the only issue he has is with getting together with groups. He plays fighting games (nerd alert!), but he hasn’t really been able to connect with others who do after moving to another area because literally all the planning is on Facebook. Other than that, he doesn’t miss it at all.

    I definitely spend too much time on Facebook, but if it weren’t Facebook, it’d be some other random site, so I’ve never really thought of getting rid of it. I still like it for reasons of staying up to date with old friends (plus, my sister posts a lot of pictures of my adorable nieces and nephews!). Surfing the ‘net in general is a huge time suck for me, so rather than limiting certain sites, I just need to tell myself to shut my computer and go do “x” instead.

    1. As I read these comments, my mind keeps going back to a theory that Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project and a few other books) has proposed: that people fall into one of two categories, abstainers or moderators. Moderators are the people who can take stances like yours – “I’ll keep my social media, but just log into it less often”, and abstainers are people like me – we need to take a hard line and we work better when it’s either black or white. I know that it’s unrealistic for me to say I’ll “just use’do/consume something less” or “cut back” – if I know it’s still there, I’ll get sucked back in, and I do better when I can just make a clean break and get something/someone out of sight, out of mind.

      There is no right or wrong type, the key is figuring out which one you are and strategizing accordingly.

      1. I hadn’t heard that theory before, but I like it a lot! I definitely have trouble moderating myself at times, but usually, if I do, I look at how I’m feeling and realize I didn’t really want to moderate myself to begin with. Like, I wanted to be online less because I was embarrassed about wasting time online… not because *I* really wanted to be out doing something else.

  9. I quit facebook about 2 years ago and the world did not end. The people I was worried about losing contact with just moved to email or text communication, the events I thought I was missing I heard about through twitter/spouse/email, the people from high school that I never talked to continued to be people I never talked to only now I don’t know the sleeping and eating schedules of their babies I’ve never met. Twitter, Insta, and Snapchat all fill the timesuck void that was left but in easier to avoid sorts of ways. If you’re worried about missing out completely, you could just delete the app from your phone if that’s where you use it most. This comment got way longer than I thought it would, yikes. Good luck on whatever you choose!

    1. Nooo I like your long comment! I love this, I was really hoping that someone who had actually made the break would find this post and chime in. My FB breaks have only been a 1-3 months long (my detox two years ago, and my fall semester of senior year of college when I was working on my senior thesis), but my experience both times was the same as yours. Literally nothing in my life changed except that I had fewer distractions. If someone wants to be on Facebook and actually likes it, that’s cool. But honestly I think a lot of the reasons people give for why they “can’t” quit Facebook are just excuses. There are people in our world who manage to get by just fine without it. The beauty of our tech-riddled world is that there are SO many ways to communicate. It’s not like it’s 1985 and I’m disconnecting my phone line.

  10. I would delete my FB now and never miss it, but my Mom uses mine. She plays games on hers and mine since she is disabled it gives her a lot more gifts, and things she needs to keep playing, so I can’t delete mine or it would break her heart. I barely look at it though…
    I am down to checking blogs a few times a week and IG scroll when I have time. I can’t keep up with all the posts! and still have time to clean, work, etc…lol

    1. If I had to keep my FB because a loved one needed to use it, I would probably just give them the login and tell them to change the password and not tell me. 🙂

      So, I’m a little confused – your mom has her own Facebook, so why does she need yours to play games? Sorry, I don’t know anything about FB games so your comment is going over my head here. Is it like having more bingo cards – she wants to get more prizes so she plays with two different accounts?

  11. You should definitely go for it! I thought several times about deleting my Facebook, but I keep it for blogging/business reasons and because my mom uses it a lot to chat rather than text. Sadly, since Ryan and I don’t watch the news or get a paper anymore, Facebook is often how we learn of current events. Although Facebook’s trendy stories are crap, they’re always about celebrities or fluff and never truly about important world or political events.
    Pinterest is my favorite social media, it has been for about 5 years now. It’s perfect for an introvert who just wants to find articles to read or recipes to make and pretend the current presidential election isn’t happening.

    1. Now that I think of it I also get most of my current events news through the Book….and I hate myself for it, haha. My mom is mostly an emailer, and the rest of my family actually doesn’t use FB as much so I guess I’m lucky in that regard!

      I had Pinterest for like a month, two years ago, and I just couldn’t get into it. It was a little overwhelming for me!

  12. I think people who say they have friends and relatives across the country and cannot delete their FB because of that use that as an excuse. I had them as well and permanently deleted my account with no horror stories, and life did not end.

  13. I am curious to hear what you do! I’d like to go off Facebook but have to keep my account for my personal trainer job. I am not on instagram or twitter. Just the blog for my social media 🙂

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