Footloose and Facebook-free

The clock approached midnight on New Year’s Eve in 2014. I hit deactivate. I did it, and boy did it feel good. I’d jumped off a social media carousel that quite frankly, was making me nauseous. One less thing to waste time and energy on. And to confess, it was more like 4pm on December 29th.

I’d had an absolute newsfeed full. Advertisements swelled the right hand side of my over-burdened screen, suspiciously touting accommodation I’d already booked and University courses I had already completed. The left-hand column? A myriad of likes, interests, music, friends, games, apps, lists, groups, messages, events & places. Guess what? It was stuff I already knew (i.e my own taste in music), people I already connected with outside, or things that were UTTERLY irrelevant.

Front and centre, supposedly feel-good videos that were immediately slammed by skeptics in the first two or three comments below it, claiming the homeless man giving away $50 was just a hoax or PR stunt. Next came the mind-numbing positive graphics.

“What’s wrong with that Mike?”

Nothing, until they were regularly posted by people who did their best to do the complete opposite of said positive message. That’s followed by seeing ten photos of the same child with spaghetti sauce dripping around his mouth. Last but not least, the “you’ll never guess what happened to me today……” post, desperately seeking attention, and I was done.

Why on earth did I spend so many countless hours scrolling through that newsfeed? I rarely posted my own tidbits of useless information. Habit I guess. It had been a good 3-4 years that I frequently used it. I posted photos, “checked-in”, and shared news articles. There was always something that prevented me from pulling the plug.

“How else can I contact my friends overseas?”

“I like to share photos with people.”

“Hmmm.. but some pages are useful.”

“That person’s annoying me, so I’ll hide them. If I unfriend them, it’ll cause tension at work.”

In order to hurtle my way into 2015, I’m venturing back to the past. To an era when letters were given time and space to develop. A thought was pondered, and then scribed. A letter patiently snailed through many hands of the postal system, zig-zagged through numerous cities, before being jammed into the lucky recipient’s letterbox, dog-eared, and with a lick of dirt smeared on one side. But it had travelled. The not-so-clean texture of the envelope proved it. And for whatever reason, this increased the value of those precious thought-out words housed inside.

Enough with the tweets and status updates, more often than not, about nothing.

Enough with the useless abbreviations and overdone emoticons.

I’m going back folks. To a point. As much as I’d love to scribe letters to my friends and family, I’m taking a tech-savvy route, somewhere in the middle, but with the core principle still at the forefront. This is the year where I take more time to communicate with people. I want to contact people less often, but with more substance. One well-written email is nicer than five generic text messages.

Photographs? You haven’t been spared this diatribe. No longer will I fill a Facebook feed with random photos every third day while Sel and I jet-set around the world. Like an old-fashioned slide night, the family can gather around and go through carefully selected photos – less photos, but photos that have some interest and meaning. Not to bore, but to be able to talk about what was happening behind the photo, and any fun anecdotes that attached themselves to those moments in time.

The world is speeding up too quickly and it’s time to slow it back down, one person at a time. Communication has changed from a cannon to a machine-gun. The more we push and jam half-completed sentences and flash in the pan messages down people’s throats, the less we actually communicate.

So take a deep breath, slow down, and the next time you’re about to fire off a quick message or tweet to some friends, ask yourself why you aren’t sitting down to a coffee with them instead.

41 thoughts on “Footloose and Facebook-free

  1. Good luck with that! Sincerely! Sometimes I wish I could do the same but I still find more convenient not to. It’s still the best way to be in contact with people who live thousands of miles far away…maybe the next future I’ll figure something out to help me pull the plug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! In all honesty, I deactivated it a few months ago and was off for a few weeks until my University tutor decided to create a new Facebook group for my class. So I jumped back on. When I realised the group wasn’t giving me any extra information in addition to my class, and noticed I’d gotten back in the habit of mindlessly scrolling, I had to jump off again. For the few Int’l friends I’ve got, I’ve let them know what my email address is so hopefully I can continue to communicate with them that way. Let me know how you go if you do decide to make the leap!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Facebook has certainly taken over most peoples lives. I wish that our business wasn’t so reliant on social media otherwise I would have done this a long time ago. The business side is drama free which is great, I don’t mind hanging out there.. its the friends side.. but if you defriend them to get rid of the drama… its like the worst thing ever and Facebook drama spills over into real life… ARGH!! SEE!! LOOK WHAT IT DOES!!!

    Personal emails these days are much like getting letters in the post.. very rare and precious when you receive them. Good on you for ditching FB!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot about businesses! But you’re right, they’re a bit different with the newsfeed etc..

      Haha that’s exactly what I was doing every time I got on there. I’d see a post that would rile me up, and then another and another and eventually close the thing feeling even more frustrated! The best thing about turning it off completely was that no-one can be personally offended. I think 😉

      Like

  3. The description in your writing is just so…. I can’t even come up with a word to describe how refreshing just the wording was. The subject was something that is very relatable, and the way you made your argument was great. But that wording! I felt like I was travelling the world with your letter. You made me nostalgic for a time I hardly had a chance to live through. You sir have a gift! I look forward to reading many more posts, cup of coffee in hand.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Mike, I really like your page and I was planning to leave the social media scene of Facebook and twenty minutes prior to seeing where you like one of my posting.

    I opened up your page and saw the above header and I knew, I was correct in deactivating my Facebook account.

    I will in the future open up a Facebook page as my writings and short stories become published in a journal or sold one day into the future.

    For now, no more social media for me except, for twitter.

    Thanks again for being the acknowledging confirmation and a great posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In the 6+ years I’ve been on Facebook, I have threatened to deactivate my account so often that I’ve lost track. But I never went through with it. I do, however, hide those posts that annoy me; and I un-followed all the news and political pages to get rid of the trolls and creeps who never had anything positive to say. One of these days I might follow your example.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing how much of a hold it can have on us. Don’t get me wrong though – As much as I’d like people to follow my example and go back to some older forms of communication, I know plenty of people do find it genuinely useful for different reasons so I don’t criticise anyone that uses it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved it!

    The world is definitely speeding up and its so easy to get lost in it. “Communication has changed from cannon – to machine gun” – indeed it has. We get addicted to this constant input of information and crave it. We do need to slow down… Totally agree.

    I have been considering deactivating my Facebook account for awhile now. As a ‘time poor’ person, it is an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family. But even though I am so ‘time poor’, Facebook still gets some of my time… every single day. Which is kind of hard to reconcile.

    The points you have raised have increased my reasons for deactivating my account…. but I am yet to push that button…. Yes, the addiction is strong… But I am working on it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, I’m glad you signed up to WP – I’m expecting a comment from you on every post now (or you’ll owe me a coffee at work haha). But yeah you pointed out one of the bigger ironies – it was a quick way to connect with people but probably took up just as much time as meeting a few friends for a half hour catch up anyway.

      I kept “updated” with what friends were doing and where they were going, but when I saw hundreds of photos from a recent holiday, they didn’t mean anything without the discussion.

      Like

  7. Great post, Mike.

    I especially loved this part: “So take a deep breath, slow down, and the next time you’re about to fire off a quick message or tweet to some friends, ask yourself why you aren’t sitting down to a coffee with them instead.”

    As I’ve mentioned before, I know I will keep Facebook around due to the communicating with certain overseas friends. But I am going to cut down my use, and instead opt for that coffee instead as often as I can.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Good for you! I dropped out of facebook and have not looked back. I do cheat tho and go into facebook through a friends page every once in a blue moon and have not regretted dropping it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear! I haven’t found too many people who have done likewise. I’m confident I won’t regret it – there were less and less things to keep me attached and eventually I struggled to find even one thing 🙂

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  9. I must say it must be quite the experience to get off facebook, I’ve done so a few times in the past. Unfortunately it has now become an extension of some of my work and I use it for exposure. Plus my entire family lives a world away. But i can relate to how much the newsfeed can be a cluttered mess. It is an interesting read, it would be nice to see a follow up of the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for having a read 🙂 I guess it’s been made easier because I used it less and less for communication, although I do understand how useful it can be for some – I’ll definitely post an update down the track, great idea!

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  10. I’ve been trying to let go of that constant need to read the facebook newsfeed. I find myself blocking pictures and unfollowing people at an increasing rate, which doesn’t make sense at all! I felt stressed after reading it so why bother!

    Your writing style, your wording ahh very nice. If you had written twenty pages more, I would have kept reading until the end. Great post Mike, nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Hilary, I’m already feeling better without one less technological *need*, and I wasn’t even that heavy a FB user. I’m glad to hear you’ve already jumped, and quite a while go! I think I’m just slow to the party 😀

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  11. At one point a few years checking my Facebook was an addiction, every few minutes it felt like I just had to check it. So I went cold turkey and gave it up for a month. Initially it was hard, it had become a serious habit.
    I haven’t given up on Facebook (living and working abroad as I do), I find Facebook is great to share random snippets of my life.
    Excellent article!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah! I’ve actually been surprised how easy the last 6(?) weeks has been. I never spent long on it but checked it a lot out of habit. I think it’s proven just how useless my newsfeed was because I don’t miss it at all. I do understand how useful it can be for some though 😉

      Like

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