I started to write this article many times previously.
For many reasons, I’ve stopped and started, even though it’s been nearly a year since I had deleted my Facebook account permanently.
Perhaps the irony of sharing this article on a new Facebook account has always been too much? Or perhaps ego and humiliation have been the building blocks for keeping my expression and voice on the subject caged in?
The days, weeks, and months following my underwhelming exodus from Facebook were filled with a great sense of freedom. I had dismantled the chains of comparison, drowned the lure of scrolling, and was well on my way to receiving oodles of more “free” time.
To start, I did feel I had more time to sit and be present, to take photos that were solely for my family and I, and to concentrate on unfinished projects. However, there were upsides and some surprising downsides too. I began to question how much freedom I was actually gaining.
I experienced loneliness and missed my groups deeply.
I live in a remote town, and my family are all over the world. Most of my friends and close relatives kept in contact through text, Voxer, or calls. I probably speak to those people more now because of the exit, and I am grateful for that, but there were so many other people I felt significantly disconnected from, and I missed the community that I had immersed myself in, especially Facebook groups.
One, in particular, shares weekly practices, and the conversations with other women left a big, irreplaceable void; my relationship to “self” suffered. I stopped craving that special time out for myself, and I didn’t replace it with anything of correlating value.
There were many times I wished I had a platform to share my writing or important bits of information.
One of the biggest impacts of my Facebook exit was that I had no platform. I somewhat naively thought that I didn’t need Facebook to reach a wider audience—to share my voice with the world. I am a manifesting generator and for those who know my human design, I am energised from starting new projects and unleashing my creativity unto the world. It wasn’t impossible to continue to do so, but it was hard—really hard.
If a documentary like “The Social Dilemma” couldn’t convince the masses to find alternative platforms, then how should I? I am studying nutrition, and I come across alarming information all the time, which I genuinely feel it’s my duty to share with the public. I was saddened that I was unable to raise awareness in that way, and that doing so in the future was also questionable.
I spent more time talking to people.
Ah, my favourite. I talked to people more. Full stop. That’s probably all I need to say about that, really. My listening and communication skills improved, there was an abundance of topics, and most conversations would include, “Oh, that’s right, you wouldn’t know; you are not on Facebook.”
That’s right. I wasn’t. Please tell me more? Thus, two-way discussions began, and I got to feel their words as I listened to that person’s tone and read their body language. Do you think people are getting better or worse at reading other people, more attentive to subtleties in communication or less so?
I learnt to use my discernment and to build stronger boundaries for myself.
Comparison is a hot topic when referring to social media pitfalls, and it’s easy to do—your energy is lowered and your emotions are changed. Before you’ve even realised it, you’ve spent half an hour on what was supposed to be a quick check of your messages. It’s easy—so bloody easy to do.
I was accepting friend requests on my personal profile that were really business contacts, and toward the end, all I saw when I opened it up was 500 people trying to sell me something. Exhausting. Even the most wonderful posts got annoying to read, as there was that tall tale call to action popped at the bottom. I am not disapproving—just frustrated perhaps with myself for allowing so much of that to infiltrate my personal feed, when all I wanted to see was how all my real friends and family were doing.
It was a lot harder to find out what’s going on in my community—what opportunities exist.
Community noticeboards are a wonderful way to find out what events are taking place and what new things are starting that you may want to get involved in. I was lucky enough to have some good friends who would forward me things via text message that they thought I might be interested in, but there were quite a few clubs and workshops I missed out on because I wasn’t “in the loop” anymore.
I forgot what a gift social media can be.
We should all maintain the right to change our minds, to regroup, and rethink based on new information, or reframe based on lived experience. I believe it’s a privilege to do so.
I have created a new account—one which I will maintain slightly differently to the last. I am grateful to be reconnected; I am grateful to be tapped back into the network that allows virtual connection when we live in a world where, for some, real connection is still impossible.
I am grateful for the documentary and subsequent discussions and all that it has taught me. For now, I am more aware. I feel more empowered from what I learnt and not so full of fear. I look forward to sharing with my family and friends once again, and when the time comes, teaching my children how to use social media and to have them make up their own minds after watching documentaries such as “The Social Dilemma.”