Facebook is a self-esteem killer – studies even prove it. More so than Twitter or Instagram, Facebook is designed so you can constantly show off your amazing life (Look at my awesome pictures from my trip to Turks and Caicos. See how many friends I have! Did you notice how many likes I got for that status update about my new beach towel?). But what if your life isn’t that amazing? Although many people use Facebook just to keep in touch with friends and family they don’t see very often, for some consistent users it’s often difficult not to let these things get to you. Maybe your life doesn’t look so cool on Facebook. Maybe that bothers you.
I started using the site during my sophomore or junior year of high school (somewhere between 06′-08′). After ditching Myspace – with its ultra annoying “Top 8” – it was nice to have some sort of social media in my life again. Although in social terms high school was my least fulfilling time, Facebook really had no affect on my self-esteem. I had a reasonable amount of Facebook friends and was tagged in photos fairly often, so from the outside it appeared that I was somewhat “cool.”
Once college began Facebook became an essential part of my social life: it was how I was invited to parties and notified about campus events, and most importantly, it was a way for me and my friends to stay engaged absolutely every moment that we weren’t already together. When my focus should have been on term papers and text books, I’d be chatting with friends and posting photos on their timelines. It wasn’t time well spent, but it was certainly a fun distraction. To not have a Facebook at that time would have been socially devastating. It never even crossed my mind to go without an account at that point in time because it was a humongous part of my day-to-day life. I wouldn’t have admitted my dependency then, but it’s clear looking back.
Just a few days after I graduated, I decided to delete my account. A lot of things had been building up to that point, but essentially, since I was done with school I didn’t want to be constantly reminded of what everyone else was doing. Rather than packing up and jetting off to Los Angeles (like many of the people I knew) I decided to stay in Tucson and take some time off. And by take time off – I meant from everything.
I no longer wanted to know what my classmates and friends were always up to. It’s just not human. I was tired of seeing where the girl I hadn’t spoken to since middle school was taking her family vacation. I had so many Facebook “friends” I hadn’t spoken to in person in the past few years and I probably wouldn’t have much to say to them if I saw them in person. I felt so uncomfortable having such close access to everything in their lives. Unlike Twitter or Instagram, many people on Facebook share practically everything. From “I just had my baby” to “if you don’t own a gun you’re un-American,” I had enough. I was done.
Now to be honest, I do share a lot on Twitter, but not everything I’m doing. Since I’m somewhat new to Twitter and Instagram, I can actually follow people I want to. I’m not “required” to follow that one girl I had spanish with in the 8th grade, simply because she friend requested me. Because two individuals had to accept “friendship” on Facebook (rather than following back or not following) I felt this requirement to accept everyone I barely knew, so that no one had their feelings hurt. Facebook became frustrating at the end because there were at least a hundred people I wanted to un-friend simply because I no long knew them very well, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I knew how hurtful it could be.
For me the problem is keeping up appearances; appearances for old friends, classmates, and even family. As someone who takes stock in my online persona (which is particularly important as a person who blogs) I was tired of keeping up the idea that I was popular and exciting. I no longer feel like I need to prove it to people I knew 10+ years ago. It’s time to grow up, and for me, that meant ditching Facebook for good.
Do you love Facebook or love to hate it? Let me know!