Life Without Facebook: A Year Later
by Dr. David Mandler
At the end of 2015, I bid farewell to Facebook. While at the time I believed that it would be very difficult to carry on without Facebook in my life, it turns out that life without Facebook has been worth living. Here is why.
Most people predicted that I’d be back on Facebook within a few days. Honestly, I, too, had feared that not having recourse to the familiar routine of signing in and checking Facebook multiple times a day would make me want to break my New Year’s resolution. The good news is that I had no such craving or desire at all from the first day to this moment. If this seems surprising, I can understand that. After all, I was very surprised by this myself. It seems Facebook is not as addictive as many people on it believe it to be.
Throughout the year, I have obtained news only from what I consider to be trusted news outlets. Sure, I must have missed some quirky updates that I otherwise could never have found on my own. Yet it’s clear that I have also missed the onslaught of fake news and the many vituperative personal reactions to them (not to mention the stream of political comments in anticipation and following the U.S. presidential elections). I’m sure I’ve spared myself from being witness to moments of unbecoming emotional overdrive of Facebook my buddies that would have elicited many an unnecessary and high-blood-pressure-inducing personal reaction from me. Heaven knows I don’t need any artificial excitements of this sort. My blood pressure is high enough without it.
My time is no longer taken up by checking what other people have done with their lives or wanting to share “significant” moments from my life nobody gives a hoot about. Granted, I don’t have a smartphone, so the temptation to post pictures is entirely missing. Be it as it may, I am losing many opportunities to post funny, surprising, significant or any other kinds of picture and wait for validation. (By the way, with the introduction of the “Love” button, what’s become of the Like button? Are people offended if their posts only get Likes but no Loves)?
In 2016, I could focus more on the real world and my real work. I was privileged to have my academic book accepted for publication, and it was wonderful to be able to spend every minute of my free time in the first half of 2016 on going over the manuscript and assisting in the publication process. I know that the amount of time I had at my disposal was greatly increased by not spending it on Facebook. In addition, I’ve been able to spend more time on other endeavors (such as writing poetry, being more present with my family without the distraction of obsessively checking for Facebook updates, and creating a curriculum for a brand new course I’m teaching to mention but a few).
Now, I totally understand that for people who need to publicize their work, Facebook is a very important marketing tool. I know that I’ve lost many a reader because I no longer post on Facebook. For that reason, I am aware that is entirely possible that it may be necessary for me to rejoin Facebook in the future when my novel is published (I’m being purposefully optimistic on this one! Publishers, agents, and others: feel free to inquire). Others may be in this position without necessarily noticing that what they are doing is mostly self-promotion. In the United States, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! After all, (tongue-in-cheek) that’s how a particular political candidate for president has made it as far as he has.
So, while I truly miss some of the interactions with people I am unable to see in person, for me, the pros for quitting Facebook by far outweigh the cons. If you don’t think you can leave Facebook behind, consider what you are using it for. If it provides some essential services in your life, stick with it while trying to go on a Facebook diet. But if you find that it’s become more burdensome for you to use it just to keep up with everyone else or if you are plain sick of the political nonsense that is so easy to post and so difficult and useless to argue against–you may find that 2017 is your year for saying goodbye to Facebook and hello to more meaningful pursuits.
P.S. Email still exists for periodic updates. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My short story “The Loft” is available on amazon.com.