Several months ago, I finally had it. No more.
I had flirted with it, but this was it.
Right before family dinner I received a message on Facebook that left me shaken. My attention was not on my wife or kids while I ate dinner. I was more like a frantic pastor than a present father.
To this point, I have tried several times to delete Facebook forever without success. On occasion, I would disable my account for a few days, but I could not resist the temptation to return to endless scrolling. Evidently, I enjoyed the information about other people's lives, the news updates, the "influence" I had when I posted updates and pictures, and well...Marketplace (admit it, we all love it a bit too much).
At this point, I was done. Here's why:
- I was always available to people. I already have a work email and phone number, Instagram, and a personal email address where people can contact me. Let me be clear: I love my job and the people I serve. I was still left with the question: why do I need another way for people to contact me 24/7?
- There is a decline in civil public discourse. I found myself reading emotional, unthoughtful, angry posts without logic or empathy. Aside from being toxic to my soul, I also found myself judging people for their lack of judgment. Do you see how ironic this is?
- Time wasted. While Facebook is helpful and good in some respects, I felt like it owned me rather than the other way around. Apple's weekly screen time alerts were embarrassing.
Due to these and other reasons, I deleted it. Finally.
The following are a few reflections on life after Facebook:
- My screen time has decreased. Am I over my digital addiction? Definitely not. However, as we have seen in Netflix's The Social Dilemma, these platforms are designed to get you addicted, and for me, it worked. I would scroll at home, at work, in line at the grocery store, and waiting in the car as Krista waited in line at the grocery store. And worst of all? On the toilet (yes, I know, it is a lot of information). While I still spend a lot of time scrolling through Instagram, having one less place to waste time has been helpful.
- I do not miss the information I consumed. I enjoyed being able to access local media outlets, read about people's lives, and watch viral videos. However, being ignorant of all this has been liberating. It's good not to know everything.
- I still have friends, but this time they are real ones. After 13 years on Facebook, I have amassed over 1400 friends. It is possible to have over 1400 friends? People would appear in my feed that I had no idea existed or how we became friends. My friends were reduced from an unimaginable 1400 to eight.
- I have a problem with vainglory. Vainglory, according to Rebecca Konynkdyk DeYoung, is an excessive and disordered desire for approval and recognition from others. I find that a bit haunting, as I write for a website bearing my name. But nowhere was this more evident and tempting than on social media. Occasionally, my posts weren't just for information, but also for your recognition and adulation. Since my Enneagram 3 temperament is always tempted by the image of success, not being on Facebook removes one avenue for finding false approval.
So there you have it: life after Facebook.
I feel a little sheepish about this post, however. It may seem as if I am in control of my digital addiction. This is not the case.
Facebook also brings a lot of benefits. Some of you use it to conduct business, which helps pay the mortgage and keep the kids in soccer. That's great, keep it up! Others have used it to communicate with family members during the pandemic. In that case, continue to use it.
Others, however, may be on the fence as I was. If you're like most people, Facebook is just another way to pass the time; another way to stay connected. It may be time for you to file divorce papers and put an end to the relationship once and for all.
What would I recommend?
You should definitely do it.