When I posted about leaving Facebook a while back, I alluded to some challenges associated with my decision, and I want to share them in case you’re considering leaving the platform, too.
Before I dive in, though, I want to emphasize how happy I am with my decision to leave overall. I cannot tell you how long it took before I stopped involuntarily typing “fac” into my browser bar in moments of weakness, boredom, frustration, and switch- and sandwich-tasking. Actually, I can: it was at least 18 months. Yep: the last time I made a note of doing it, I had been off Facebook for 18 months. Holy shit.
Also, while I sometimes get distracted by my Instagram feed while at work, I only access it on my phone, whereas I preferred to use Facebook on my computer, which was way too accessible for such a terrible distraction and productivity vampire. Sure, we need mental breaks throughout the day, but my experience of Facebook was not that, even if I told myself it was. Now, I go for walks, read, work on puzzles, or rest my eyes to take a break.
Okay, now time for the hard parts. Three main challenges come to mind:
1. Many businesses use a Facebook page in place of a website. This is especially true in the mountain town where I spend a lot of time. If I want to make sure a shop or restaurant is open, see if they have something new, or attend an event, I need to check their Facebook page. And I get it: it’s a heck of a lot easier for businesses to update Facebook than it is to maintain a website. To clarify: Non-Facebook users can access Facebook pages, but Facebook makes it really annoying to do so, constantly presenting you with a pop-up asking you to sign in.
2. Many clubs/groups rely on Facebook to organize events. I believe one of the best things about the internet is that you can leverage it to find community and connect with people in real life. I organize Bull City Beer Runners through Meetup to do just that, but many other groups I’m interested in only use Facebook. A hiking group that I’m in organizes on Facebook but also thankfully sends out a newsletter with a list of all of the events each month. If you want to attend any, you can RSVP via email; but you don’t get any real-time updates like a change in time or location because those are on Facebook.
3. Many individuals rely on Facebook to organize events. Since leaving the platform, I have been in countless interactions with friends who asked if I was going to a shindig I didn’t know about because the host only created a Facebook event and didn’t reach out in other ways (or I would find out about the event after the fact). I know—at least I think—these oversights aren’t personal, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my feelings. When I was still on Facebook, I kept a list of what I called “Facebook-hesitant” friends that I would reach out to via text or email when an event was scheduled (with permission of the host, of course). I guess I thought others would do the same for me; but alas, expectation is the source of suffering. And, similar to the ease of Facebook for businesses, the same is true for event hosts. I get it.
There you have it. I think it says a lot about me that all three of my challenges stem from the same place: the intersection of the internet and the physical world. So, if you’re thinking about leaving the platform, consider those challenges (along with not getting a wall-full of birthday wishes from people you haven’t spoken to since high school) and how they might affect you. For me, the sense of freedom has far outweighed the challenges.