Quitting Facebook without notifying a soul was easy. What happened next was the interesting part.
Then earlier this year, some five years later, after reconnecting with school buddies, connecting with unrequited school crushes, and mis-connecting with eHarmony dates that had gone awry, I unceremoniously disconnected from Facebook. I made no announcement. I simply without notifying a soul, suspended my account.
Last year, I had bid adieu to my online dating accounts and crowed about it, but this I thought would be tougher. Like ending any relationship, I had multiple reasons for leaving Facebook. The most important reason being that I had come to the mindset that the world's largest social network that I frequented as a "relationship." What had happened to me? Sure like many writers I am reclusive, but I was spending more time with Facebook than with the actual people on Facebook. I knew it was unhealthy at worst and unproductive at best so one day stopped cold turkey.
And doing so, I will admit, was quite freeing. By leaving Facebook, I of course had more free time to live. OK well at least I had the option to live if I so chose to. Initially that living meant frequenting other mindless websites -- but that was acceptable I felt. I've read that some heroin addicts kick the habit by first becoming addicted to methadone. So I used The Onion and Reddit to get the Facebook monkey off my back. (And by Facebook Monkey I am not referring to Mark Zuckerberg so don't even go there.) I've never been addicted to any substance legal or otherwise and am not equating the two but for me I felt like I was living Facebook free.
Though one of my job's is to use, promote, and praise social media, I only posted with a corporate account for work. I didn't have messages to read, posts to follow, statuses to quip about. Facebook didn't rule my life, I didn't check it a thousand times a day. Very quickly I lost the taste. The train had left the station.
Soon I immersed myself in things more valuable, hobbies, family, and exercise. I wrote more. Went out more met living people rather than virtual ones. I even finished first in a triathlon, discovered a new species of butterfly, and climbed Mount Everest. (Editor's note: Preposterous sarcasm but I wasn't doing my euphoric reaction justice and felt a little oomph was required to make my point. And if eating a pint of Haagen Daz, a t-bone steak, and a gallon of iced tea in one sitting somehow counts as a triathlon then I wasn't being completely sarcastic.)
Then after a month, I returned to Facebook which in social media speak is a veritable lifetime. I didn't actually "cave" as I say in the title as it was always a planned sabbatical. But I returned with a new perspective, one that was more based on want than need. Some of my FOFs (Facebook Only Friends) welcomed me back; most others said nothing. I didn't leave looking to be missed so that wasn't an issue.
Now, rather than a relationship, I think of Facebook for what it is: a complete waste of time. But it's a lovely, charming, waste of time that can make me laugh, influence my buying decisions, and lets me connect with both the real and virtual people in my life when I wish. Until I dump it again.