Why I'm Not on Facebook
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
I quit Facebook in early 2012, after threatening to do so for a while. I was having difficulty controlling how much time I spent. I used it to stay in touch with friends as well as far-flung family, and I found myself spending whole evenings reading posts and commenting, looking at photos, all the things people do on Facebook.
Many of my 275+ “friends” were not really friends at all but people I was acquainted with or had met once or twice. We did not interact on Facebook, but there they were on my wall: trudging to spin class, bemoaning catching a cold, or complaining about commuter traffic. Distant family members posted political items I found annoying. I began hiding people from my wall so I didn’t have to un-friend them but could ignore their posts.
An hour to two on Facebook each day - a few minutes here and there, plus about 45-60 minutes most evenings = 14 hours a week, or 56 hours a month, almost a whole work week. A year of that and I had spent 728 hours on Facebook. That’s an entire month engaged in an activity that did nothing to get me closer to my goals. Those 30 days were gone forever.
In exchange for my time on Facebook, what exactly was I getting in return? Nothing. I wasn’t accomplishing more on the job cruising around Facebook. I wasn’t writing more, creating more stories.
I wasn’t connecting on a deep level with my closest friends or family members.
So I acted. I worked through the process of deleting my account (at that time, Facebook was not easy to quit), then sat back to see what life would be like without the world’s most popular social media.
I wondered what I would miss when I quit.
It turned out ... I didn’t really miss anything.
Life was what it was before Facebook was invented. I was no worse off and I
would argue, a damn sight better with those 30 days back. Seven years later, that means I have regained almost four months of my life. I’ve written a lot more essays and a few poems in the interim, made significant progress on my novel (which turned into a trilogy, but that's another story!), written many letters, called more friends and family members and had real conversations, taken more walks, had more great talks with my spouse, read more books. On balance, I think my life has improved since I quit.
I’m not saying this is for everyone, and I’m not trying to persuade others to follow suit and quit Facebook. However, I know I’m not alone.
Some may argue that Facebook could help me market my work and attract new readers and clients. That may be true. Currently I’m an Instagram user. Has the same time- suck issue arisen in this context? To an extent.
But I was ready for it. I’m strict with myself. I check Instagram every 2-3 days and enforce a 20-minute time limit. I follow only those representing my greatest interests: books and writers, close friends, politicians who represent me, local organizations, and a few sailing sites. I post about St. Pete history, books I really like and the occasional local landscape. Mostly I stay focused on my greatest passions.
And isn’t that ultimately what we’re trying to achieve? If a social media tool helps
us focus on and connect with our greatest passion, then it is indeed a tool, an implement worthy of use. But social media ceases to be a tool when instead it takes us away from our favorite pursuits, replacing time well spent with wasted time and regret.
If you are a writer or a reader, if you love books of all kinds, if you enjoy reading about writers, follow me on Instagram. My handle is @NCaron27. Don’t look for me on Facebook, because I’m not there.
NOTE: This is an update of an essay I wrote in 2016.