Why I left Facebook, then quickly caved and rejoined

Quitting Facebook without notifying a soul was easy. What happened next was the interesting part.

I remember hearing about Facebook for the first time in 2007 from a snarky 20-something who was making fun of "those" girls who posted drunken photos on their wall in hopes to make their otherwise mundane lives seem famous. Like most productive members of society at that time, I didn't know much about anything online social online past the eHarmony commercials. Intrigued and newly divorced at the time, I found sought out Facebook and joined. Partly due to my job as a high tech marketer, partly as an experiment, and partly in hopes not to look like the out-of-touch, middle-aged divorced guy (still working on that part). Shortly thereafter, I was hooked.

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.


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