Friday, 16 June 2017

Dear Facebook, I Quit



Bloggers and social media go together like salt and pepper. If you read someone’s blog you automatically expect to be able to chat to them over Facebook or Twitter. Unfortunately, the ease of being able to connect with people also makes it easy for less considerate humans to do the same.

At the start of this month I opened Facebook, hunted through the many options that try to dissuade you from disconnecting, and I clicked “Deactivate My Facebook Account”. I took back my offline life.

I wasn’t originally going to write about this but I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve been asked so many questions, so hopefully I can answer them for you and I’m sorry if this ends up like an essay.


Why I Deactivated My Account

Basically, I quit Facebook because I was sick of the abuse I was getting. It’s sad, but as a blogger I’m pretty used to the abuse and it doesn’t tend to affect me. However, when it’s someone that you’ve considered a friend for quite a long time, it’s a lot harder to stomach. Worse still, it wasn’t just one friend that seemed to have a knife aimed at my back.

The nature of a being a blogger means that you do tend to give up quite a bit of privacy. Something about sharing parts of your life leads people to think that they’re entitled to know everything about it and this usually incites a level of anger at the things you choose not to share, and sometimes jealousy because you’ve done something that they perhaps don’t have the confidence to do.

After three months of harassment on Twitter, followed by some “friends” deciding to try and make my life a misery, two weeks dealing with the fall out and trying to keep a lid on everything I’d had enough. Unfortunately, my “friends” got their way. My life was miserable - I was noticing that every day I was waking up, dreading checking my phone and felt unsettled every time it rang. I couldn’t deal with it anymore and decided to take control.



What Happened After I Deactivated My Account

The first thing I noticed was a sense of feeling lost. The abuse I’d received from these “friends” made me wary of trusting anyone. I made a new account so I still had access to my Facebook page and added six friends that I know would support me, but essentially I’d chosen to cut myself off from everyone that I normally talk to. For the first few days, I kept staring at my phone as it didn’t ring and the day seemed to be a lot longer. It’s not until you delete Facebook that you realise how much time you waste mindlessly scrolling. I kept thinking “What do I do?”, because over the last 6 years of Facebooking I had somehow forgotten how to pass the time.

One of the things that was most apparent during my time away was a sense of isolation. I had these 6 friends added to my new Facebook - the ones that I talk to every day - but without any pages or groups I had no connection to the outside world. Adam in particular would repeatedly say “Have you seen this?” “No Adam, I deleted my account”. Without Facebook I was the last to know everything. Yes, I could get news from BBC but they don’t usually report on my friends. I found that because I wasn’t getting this constant stream of content throughout the day I sat down in the evening and would watch both the local and national news.

Blog wise, I noticed that engagement on my Facebook page and views on my blog dropped like a stone. I have a lot of friends and family that read my blog who, thanks to the algorithm, won’t see the post on The Owlet but will see when I share the post to my personal page. Without sharing, my Facebook posts weren’t being seen so they wouldn’t know there was a new blog post up - it did make me consider reactivating in order to save my dying blog stats.



What Made Me Reactivate My Account

One night, Adam and I were due to Skype but he was late. When he called me he was on the phone looking worried. I’ll keep this anonymous of course, but one of our close friends struggles with depression and had posted a worrying status. Because I deleted Facebook, I didn’t see it and Adam was so stressed he’d forgotten to tell me. We spent the whole night trying to get in touch with her and even though she was fine, I felt guilty because in escaping the blue prison I hadn’t been there for her at a time when she was struggling. I felt like if I’d been there to talk to her she wouldn’t have gotten to such a low point. This made me realise that really you can’t be without it at my age, so I reactivated my account.


Friends

Someone on Twitter asked how my friends reacted, and if they contact me less as a result. I messaged the people that I speak to regularly to tell them I wasn’t going to be around but didn’t post publicly. That actually gave me a lot of insight into my friends as well. Most people wished me well, offered support and gave me their number if I didn’t already have it, but some read the message and ignored it, which in itself said a lot. I did text the people that gave me their numbers saying “Hey, how are you?”, and again a few didn’t bother to respond.

Before deleting Facebook I would’ve said I had a core group of around 20 friends that I spoke to a lot. Having been through this, I now have a group of maybe 8 people that I consider true friends but I know that they will support me and I can trust them. Since reactivating my account I’ve had barely any messages from people who weren’t added to my new Facebook. I think a lot of people took it as a sign that I didn’t want to know them anymore, rather than needing to escape into my own headspace for a bit. But that’s okay, it’s solidified who I consider friends. While I was offline my friends Ruby and Sophie messaged me every day to ask how I was, and by not being present on Facebook, I was able to focus on the people I value most - I think I’ve spoken to my friend Alicia almost every day since I deleted my account.


Overall

It’s not until you step away from social media that you realise it’s effect on you. I was only offline for a week, but I noticed my mood completely change to a point that I was happy and relaxed again. I had more time to focus on important things like being with family instead of being on my phone in the same room as them, and was able to work on content. 

I don’t think it’s viable for me to live without social media as a blogger. Yes I had more time but without outside influence I lacked inspiration. I think in 2017 our way of socialising is being highly accessible instead of meeting at the pub for a catch up, and without my social media I think I would be left out. However I think having a social media holiday is a necessity, whether you delete Facebook, leave your phone at home or simply log out once a week. Whatever you choose to do, give yourself chance to reset and recharge.

Would you delete your social media? Let me know in the comments, and if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments or on Twitter. 

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

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