Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Why I Deactivated on Facebook

In an earlier episode of The Fandesals Podcast (currently on Google, Apple and Spotify and also on YouTube), we discussed the topic of social media platforms. I have since left one of them: Facebook. Here's my take on it. The episode on Spotify is embedded at the end of this post. Enjoy!

In October of 2020, once people started filing their Certificates of Candidacy for the coming elections, I decided to deactivate my Facebook. I was starting to see people taking sides and posting their political opinions on the app and I felt overwhelmed by it all. I decided that it was time for me to take a break from it, at least until the elections were over. It has been nine months since then and if not for the fact that I still actively use Facebook Messenger, I would have deleted my account already. The only times I have been back on Facebook were limited to around 5 minutes at most, and were only to try to transfer the accounts where I used the app to log in to the more traditional username and password format (as well as to update my profile photo, which you apparently cannot do via Facebook Messenger).

How do I feel right now without Facebook? Surprisingly calm and fine with it, actually. 

Living without Facebook after a long time of actively using it was weird at first, but it ended up feeling very liberating. I realized that there were so many things about it that were overwhelming me and being without it gave me time to just be me. It’s like I was able to take a breath away from so much stuff that I was unnecessarily taking on. It made me see that the app took too much time from me, bombarding me with information that I did not necessarily need (or want) on the pretext of staying in touch with friends and family.

I discovered that I did not need Facebook to keep in touch with the people I love and care about. If a friend or relative wanted to be in touch, they would find other means to do so (and vice versa). Plus, if people reached out and made an effort without it, I know that these are people who truly want to stay in touch. 

Of course, it does have some disadvantages too. My nephew, for one, mourns the fact that the game he loved used my account to log into and we lost all the levels he achieved because I had deactivated it. Losing touch with some people I only had a connection with on the app was another. It’s sad, but now that I think about it, these are probably friendships that have gone their natural course. I don’t know if one person can be close to so many friends anyway. At this stage in my life, I have also realized that I would rather have a small circle of friends than a large group of them. 

Being without Facebook felt good because I did not need to accept friend requests from people I may have met but was not close to. Having too many people on my friends list was a bit much for me. Except for a select few, I was getting updates from people whose lives I do not necessarily need to keep tabs on and who probably do not care about mine either. I felt that it was all about getting connected, but not necessarily about the connection itself. 

Another good thing about deactivating is that it has been good for my mental health. Getting regular updates from people about how wonderful their lives have been sometimes felt like a bit too much pressure for me. As happy as I am when things are going great for everyone, I sometimes wonder if I am doing as well as these people are. If my life is as good as everyone else has it and if not, I wonder what I can do to try and keep up. It’s not healthy for me to have those kinds of thoughts where I question my life and if I have done enough for myself. I want to be able to say I am enough and not second-guess myself about it.

We may not all admit it, but there is also the tendency for all of us to put our best foot forward on social media. And when you only show the good parts, there is internal pressure to keep it that way even when your days have not exactly been good. I have been guilty of that and I often ask myself why I even bother. 

I’ve realized that Facebook has not been a healthy place to be in. By deactivating, I have found myself more at peace with who I am, the place where I am in my life, and how I live it. I think that before I deactivated the account I was already on the verge of giving it up. I realized that apart from resharing other people's posts, I had not posted anything since 2020. 

I am not saying that all social media is bad. I am not saying that Facebook is bad either. It’s just that I think that being off it has been good for my mental health. I am still on Twitter and Instagram, but I find these apps less daunting than Facebook. I think it helps that with Instagram, pictures have minimal captions and Twitter posts are only made of 280 characters or less. It is not as overwhelming as photo albums and long feed posts on Facebook. Plus, I have limited people who I follow on both apps, and I am not obligated to follow back people who follow me, because that’s the way these apps are mostly. That means less pressure to compare me to anyone online. It is less pressure to keep up and more freedom to express myself the way I want to, without having to think of anyone else but me.

The information overload on Facebook is another reason that I have opted to stay away. While I have promised to return to the app after the elections, I have learned from friends of mine (who have deactivated post-elections themselves) that there are too many posts there of people who are pro and against the incoming administration. To say that the words posted and exchanged can be a bit harsh may be an understatement. I don’t think that I can handle the stress of seeing contrasting posts like that on my feed from people I know. I have so many thoughts about the recent elections and how people are handling everything politically related but I will save that for a future post. 

For now, I will be keeping and (probably) limiting myself to Twitter and Instagram in terms of social media. Anyone who wants to keep tabs on me would most likely be able to keep up with what I’ve been up to through those apps… and I still have this blog and the podcast I have with my good friend Judith (Fandesals Podcast, available wherever you stream your podcasts and also on YouTube) if you prefer other mediums.  

At the rate things are going, I may not be back on Facebook for the next six years, depending on how the next elections go and what the political climate will be on the app – will Facebook even still be a thing in the next 6-12 years? That remains to be seen.


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