First, let’s get this out of the way—it’s not because of Facebook’s privacy policies. I am a pretty open person on the Web. Heck, I think we are all, by default, when we choose to “go digital.” I have blogs, profiles, an About.me page, a public LinkedIn Profile. Why don’t I care? Because I understand that it’s about trade-offs. I am trading off my privacy for the privilege of using some web service or application like Facebook.
But, again, that’s not why I left.
Over the past year, I had become increasingly fixated on my digital life. I knew that digital played an important role in my livelihood and career. But it got to the point where the digital updates that were furiously filling my news feeds were becoming an addiction. Just imagine that Facebook is like a digital water cooler. I was drinking A TON of water every hour. Although I’m not a neuroscientist, I’d venture to say that what was happening was related to my Dopamine levels—when I was checking status updates on Facebook, my brain was rewarding itself with Dopamine; when I wasn’t, and Dopamine levels dropped as a result, I started “jonesing for a fix.”
So I quit. Cold turkey.
I logged myself out of Facebook. I deleted the application from my phone. I cut myself off. It’s been about 24 hours and I haven’t checked it once.
This liberation from constant updates has been a relief to say the least. It’s afforded me a fresh perspective to look at how entangled with digital my life has become and how that entanglement can have physical impact on body and self. It’s provided me time to ask questions like, “why do we use Facebook in the first place?” The answer to which, that we are essentially narcissistic and want to be the center of attention, is a glaring commentary on being human in today’s world. Outside of a very small group of friends and family, why do I want people to know what’s happening in my life? Because I want them to pay attention to me, to “like” me, that’s why.
(On an aside, I haven’t cut the cord to Twitter but it doesn’t hold the same sway as Facebook did; I believe that’s a direct correlation to the depth of relationship I have with Facebook friends, they are real friends and real family, versus anonymous Twitter followers)
Maybe Facebook or other social media networks don’t have the same effect on you. I’ve seen a few people use Facebook effectively to have discussions about current topics. But for the most part, it’s all the same—status post after status post about themselves and their kids. And I’d venture to guess that you are checking these status updates more often than you realize. Which is a clear sign that you need to check, just like you might need another cigarette, or another drink.
Will I ever return to Facebook? Maybe or maybe not. Once the dust settles and I’m finished with a “digital detox.” But for now? The little blue thumb is off limits.
That was a flashback. I had my Facebook deactivated for about a year. Even though I returned back to Facebook a couple of months ago just to be in touch with few new friends, I hardly use it now. No status updates, no likes or comments, no birthday wishes, no friends requests, no chat messages, no party albums or profile picture uploads. What are you waiting for? Cool kids have already left Facebook. Go ahead, deactivate it, be in touch with group of friends and family. Live life the real way. The digital detox starts from Facebook.