I started using Facebook in 2007. And after spending 9 years on the site I’m seriously considering quitting.
Facebook feels like it’s getting progressively more negative, toxic and divisive. After spending a few minutes browsing my newsfeed I feel dirty. It’s like I’m opening up my mind and allowing hundreds of people to throw up all their negative thoughts and feelings on me.
When I feel like that it seems like quitting Facebook is a no-brainer. It’s like, why do we subject ourselves to all this crap? Just quit.
But then I see some cool video or read an interesting story by a friend and I’m like, “Oh, you know what, Facebook’s not that bad.” Especially when you’re the one posting something “cool” that everybody likes. It feels good.
So I’m trying to figure out what to do. I want to think it through so I can really commit to my decision once I make it. And as a writer my favorite way to figure things out is to write about it.
Plus, I suspect there are others who are flirting with the idea of quitting Facebook too. If that’s you, then this post is for you. I simply want to share my thought process with you and hopefully it’ll help you make the decision that’s best for you too.
Remember, I didn’t say the “best decision,” I said the “decision that’s best for you.” For some it may be best for them to quit social media. For others it may be better to stay. So my goal isn’t to convince you to quit. It’s to help clarify your thinking about it so you can make a smart decision.
Below you will find five questions that will help clarify your thinking about this. I encourage you to take a few minutes and really consider each one.
1. Why do you feel like quitting Facebook?
If you’ve never considered quitting then skip to the next question.
But if like me you consider quitting Facebook on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, then ask yourself, “Why do I feel like quitting?”
Like I said earlier, the reason why I feel like quitting is because Facebook has become progressively hostile and negative. Yes, I understand it’s worse around Election time but it’s not just that.
When I began using Facebook 9 years ago it was a fun and friendly place. I think most people were just happy to be on the platform. It was cool. It’s not cool anymore and it’s not fun. At least it doesn’t feel like it is to me.
Your reason why may be different. Maybe you feel you’re wasting too much time or it gives you anxiety. Whatever the reason it’s important to be clear about it.
2. What do you like about Facebook?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like Facebook at all. If that were true then the decision to quit would be easy.
But there are some things I like about Facebook. I like connecting with old friends and people who want to get together. I like sharing pictures and videos of my family and seeing how many likes they get. And if I’m honest I also like being nosey and spying on other people. It’s the same part of me who loves to eavesdrop on people when I’m out to eat.
But what about you? What’s your favorite part about Facebook?
3. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you quit Facebook?
Go ahead and get creative here. Imagine the worst case scenario if you quit. Maybe you’re trying to use social media for business purposes. So consider the possibility that your dream client could be on Facebook looking for someone who does exactly what you do and is willing to pay top dollar for your services!
Now because you’re not on Facebook you never get that contract. At the same time you lose your biggest client and you end up not being able to pay your mortgage. You end up homeless and then getting sick from sleeping under a bridge in the cold. Then you die a few weeks later. All because you quit Facebook!
Like I said, get creative here. I’m not encouraging you to entertain ideas like this normally but for the sake of this exercise I think it can help because once you exaggerate a fearful thought you can (hopefully) laugh at how ridicules it is. For example, you’re probably not really going to die if you quit Facebook.
4. What’s the best thing that could happen if you quit Facebook?
Now it’s time to swing the pendulum the other way. Imagine the best possible scenario if you quit Facebook. Again, be extreme here.
Perhaps you quit Facebook and free up 40 minutes a day (which is the average time Americans spend on Facebook). You use that time to write that book you’ve always wanted to write. After about 3 months of writing and editing daily you have a 50,000-word manuscript. Your book takes off and ends up selling a million copies and you get to decide if you want to become a full-time writer or continue your normal job.
So go ahead, dream big! Think of all those fun things you could do with this extra time you’ve freed up.
5. What would probably happen if you quit Facebook?
Ok, now that you’ve thought through your nightmare story and your dream story I want you to dial your imagination down a notch or two and ask yourself, “What would actually happen if I quit Facebook?”
Chances are you wouldn’t die or become a best-selling author in the next 6 months. So what would really happen?
Here’s what I think would happen to me:
- I would probably miss out on seeing some funny videos and cool pictures.
- I would probably miss some of the inside jokes that come from viral memes.
- I would probably get angry less about people’s opposing worldviews.
- I would probably have more time to write and read.
- I would probably be better off.
Hopefully this helped you some. But of course you never know what it’s going to be like until you do it. And that truth alone is probably why I’m going to decide to at least quit Facebook for one year.
I know what its like to be on it for 9 years. I don’t know what it’s like to be off it. So unless I find a good enough reason to stay on it I’m likely pulling the plug come January 1st.
But what about you? What will you do? Remember, make the decision that’s best for you. Not what others think you should do.