My Facebook Sabbatical: How a Social Media Cleanse Gave Me New Perspective and More Insight on the Important Things In Life

A Facebook sabbatical. A digital cleansing of sorts. That’s what I’ve been on for a little over a month. Give it a try. Put down the pack. Step out of the cold. There is cleaner air to suck in.

A social media cleanse

I do this sort of thing occasionally. I’ll go one week, maybe two, without logging in to Facebook. I’ll feel better. Think more clearly. Then, one day, I log back in and get dragged down the rabbit hole again.

What began October 20 is the longest I have gone without logging in since I re-created my Facebook account in February 2014 after the passing of a friend. After seeing so many friends I hadn’t seen in forever at family night for Scott, I decided to re-create my account to make it easier to stay in touch. But the reality, much like I realized when I deleted my account back in 2010, is that while Facebook does allow for us to connect, there are better ways—more connected ways—to connect, like picking up the phone and calling or even texting.

Facebook is mostly passive. Friendships should be active. Facebook’s marketing goal is not to get you out and about and catching up with friends in a physical space. It is to keep you slack jawed in front of a glowing screen for as many minutes in the day as possible.

Facebook Has Its Place

The Facebook I like

That’s not to say Facebook doesn’t have its place. In a few days, I am going to log back in and send a group message out to try and catch up with friends visiting back home over Christmas. We did this last year, meeting up at The Fishin’ Pig outside of Farmville—and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There is, too, the understanding that we all have friendships that aren’t super close, meaning: I am your friend, but I am probably not calling you and you probably aren’t calling me, for a cup of coffee. And that’s totally okay. Friendships are not always equal. They exist on different levels. Some friendships kept at a distance are good, even necessary.

I also enjoy seeing my friends find love and start families of their own. I enjoy seeing the photos of their children as they sprout from seeds in the womb to living, breathing, laughing, beautiful human beings. But that’s not what dominates my newsfeed. What dominates my newsfeed is…

The Facebook I dislike

Remember when Facebook didn’t exist and the only way people could spout their cynicism and pass on unsourced horses––t was through email? The era was 1999-2008. We all have that relative who thinks Obama is a covert Muslim extremist intent on destroying America and creating a socialist state where McDonald’s employees earn $25/hour all the while smoking their legalized marijuana in the back parking lot on lunch break under Sharia Law. I just didn’t realize I had that many of them—and friends too.

Sometimes I’m like gahtdaahm.

That’s what my newsfeed mostly looks like now. The equivalent of chain emails. Newsmax.com forwards. Memes that attempt to turn a very complex issue into a simple one liner with two grammatical errors.

And look, this goes for people who I may even agree with on a particular subject. Enough is enough. Stop ranting. Stop raving. Politics. Religion. You’re not changing anyone’s views. If you have small children, that is your opportunity to mold a clay mind. If your children are already grown up and they believe the exact opposite of what you believe, that was your golden opportunity and you blew it—and there’s probably a reason for it. Hint.

We know what you believe. We just don’t believe the same thing, and you come off as mean and full of hate. And you look lonely. Really, really lonely. And like you need to get laid—and on a regular basis. By someone who knows what they are doing.

I have this theory about people who are super-political. There’s this sexual void or tension in their lives. Someone needs to do a study.

Sure, I can unfollow everyone who puts up crazy crap—and I did for quite some time. If you posted anything that warranted the following response from me—Seriously, do you believe that? Do you really believe that? Come on—I hid you from my newsfeed. Then, over time, I realized I had unfollowed a good number of people, and I thought to myself, well, if I’m going to have social media I can’t do that. So, I re-followed them.

It took only five minutes of fresh status updates and shared links to stream down my newsfeed for me to realize why I had done what I did before.

So I took a break, a Facebook sabbatical

I’m not against Facebook, and it’s unlikely I will delete my account again like I did before, but I can’t hang out at the picnic table at B&D after school every day. Every once in a while? Sure. Every day? Nah.

Particularly when my relatives are hanging out there, too. Kidding. Sort of.

And that kid who you don’t really want to hang out with starts pulling up a chair every day and interjecting something outlandish into the conversation every five minutes, and you just want the kid to go away but he keeps coming back again and again, and you’re like, okay, I’m going to go now and you get in your car and then you hear the passenger side door open and he gets in and hops in the backseat and buckles up, and you’re like, what are you doing in my car? Get out of my car!

So you throw the SOB out and you high tail it outta there. Gravel shooting up. Gray dust like chalk filling the air in your rearview. Yeah, that’s what I did. That’s what I had to do.

Have you ever considered a Facebook sabbatical?

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Photo: Joe the Goat Farmer. “Common Facebook Advertising Mistakes.” Licensed under CC by 2.0

5 Comments

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  1. It seems ironic I was directed to this blog post through Facebook. I do tend to agree with what you say. There’s a lot of negativity on Facebook now. It seems more than usual & its been this way for a while now. Perhaps its the political primaries. I dont know. What I do know is if its this bad now, its going to only be that much worse once a candidate is chosen from each political party. Ive had to take short breaks myself. Havent been very successful sticking w/ it but might need to give it another shot

    1. Ha. Well, what can I say? I actually haven’t been back on Facebook yet, but I did recently set up my blog to auto-post new blog entries at a given time on social media. Plus, and I mentioned this within the blog itself, I don’t have anything against Facebook. Facebook is a tool, but, as the data shows again and again, it is very addictive. We’re not all addicted in an equal fashion. Some people stay on Facebook. Others are more casual users. But, even the casual users are probably on there more than they would like to admit (or more than they realize, may be more apt to say).

      I totally agree with you on the growing negativity within the newsfeed itself. I think the political primaries have something to do with it, but I also think it was Facebook’s incorporation and tweaking of the current events newsfeed in the sidebar that has created this sort of hyper-polarization of issues. Side A meet Side B. Ding.

      It’s like sitting down at Thanksgiving dinner with your family and one of your relatives throwing out raw meat to the wolves by bringing up politics. Great idea.

      Or that same relative finding (or trying to convert) something/anything into a political topic.

      I can hide my relative in the closet and shove an oversized cloth napkin in his or her mouth, but should I have to do that?

      Honestly, I don’t even care what someone’s political beliefs are. I’m used to disagreeing politically with just about everyone I meet or am related to, no matter what side of the aisle they belong. The problem is that too many people, and naturally it’s the loudest ones, have lost the decency and kindness factor in discussing current events and/or political topics.

      Best of luck on your sabbatical if you go that route. Totally disconnect from Facebook. Experience the quiet. Once you get about three weeks under your belt, you find you need to scratch the itch less.

    2. I think I will. I have finals coming up so what better time. Maybe itll get rid of that dirty feeling I have when I log off each time. I dont know how to explain it really but there is like this disappointing feeling when I log off Facebook. Its like my body knows I just wasted valuable time or something when I couldve been doing something better

    3. I completely understand what you are saying about the ‘dirty feeling.’ That’s a solid description actually. An example is this: let’s say I sit down with my phone in my hand. Fifteen or twenty minutes later I realize I’ve just wasted 15 or 20 minutes. Doing what? Just scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. As someone who enjoys running, I catch myself thinking in those times: I could have just run two or three miles at a 7:30 pace. But I didn’t. I just sat on my a– doing nothing, which is of course okay sometimes. It’s just not okay to me as much as I find myself in this situation.

      Best of luck on your finals. And thank you for reading and leaving a reply.

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