Facebook Free!

I recently completed a “Facebook Free” month.

Why did I do it?  (Sidenote, I’m finding myself asking why a lot more recently, personally and at work.  Not sure why, but it’s a good thing!)  I had read several articles, such as this one, that led to my questioning of the social network.

Leading up to the Facebook break, I noticed I was feeling a lot of jealousy, something extremely abnormal for me for me to feel.  I’ve always been the kind of emphatic person who celebrates my friends’ joys and mourns their pains.

I knew I had a problem when two things happened.  First of all, I was feeling jealous of people for things I don’t want in my life right now.  Maybe I was actually just jealous of the attention they were getting.  Maybe living in a new place with few friends I was longing for the approval I once received from close friends.  Secondly, in a more specific experience, I had just returned from a trip to Las Vegas, completely paid for by work, and I found myself being jealous of a friend posting vacation photos.  That, I believe, was the point I realized I needed to step back and adjust my perspective.

Additionally, one of the other hardest things on Facebook for me was seeing my Nashville friends post about the place I call home.  I still miss that city with my entire heart, and some days it can be painful to be reminded of what I long for.  Enough depressing stuff, though.

I used Instagram fairly often before disconnecting, but I definitely used it more while I was off Facebook.  I still had that desire (that social media fulfills) to share with my friends the most exciting things happening in my life.  I used to check Instagram maybe once a day, but I was finding myself caring a lot more about what pictures my friends were posting.  I still wanted to be connected to the people I care about who live hundreds of miles away; the most important thing that social media provides us.

There was actually a valuable marketing lesson I learned.  I had to get on Facebook a couple of times for work-related tasks and it was hard to see those little red flags.  Confession: a few times I did click on the flags to see what my notifications were, but then I realized I couldn’t interact with these people who were liking or commenting on my content.  It made me feel like a jerk to not respond and at least say thank you!  In the worst case, one of my friends who lives in DC saw a picture when I was visiting, and asked if I was there.  I didn’t get to respond until a few weeks later.  Yikes.  Hope he didn’t want to grab coffee…

Now how this ties into marketing – because I had my Instagram linked to Facebook, my new pictures were uploaded.  Much like a company often will do, I was sending one-way communication.  Without responding to comments it felt so impersonal, like I was posting all these pictures saying “look at me, look at me!  I don’t care about you.”  I definitely am going to use this experience to be a better, more relational marketer in the future (not that I didn’t care about consumer relationships before, I just see the need even more clearly now.)

Several times I thought of something funny that would have made a good status update, but tough luck, I couldn’t post it.  Is the world or my life any worse off because I didn’t have a chance to say something funny?  Of course not.  However, if I quit posting on Facebook forever, would I be missing out on opportunities to stay in touch with old friends?  I truly believe so.

In the end, I didn’t miss seeing vacation photos from people I took a few classes with in college, or that a person I used to be close to got engaged to some guy I never met.  What I truly missed during the month is seeing things that my good friends had going on in their lives.  I was missing out on important things for people I cared about.  I was missing a chance to share the highlights in my life as well.

My final verdict: I’m not going to delete my Facebook account.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to just completely ignore Facebook, but it is definitely healthy to check less often, so that instead of focusing on what I don’t have in my life, I can focus on the amazing things that actually are happening to me.  I sometimes mindlessly check Facebook when I am bored, so I like the idea of logging out whenever I finish checking, therefore the next time I want to check, I have to sign in, requiring a more conscious effort.  Like I mentioned, missing out on what my good friends were doing is a bummer, so maybe I’ll make a list with my top 20 or so friends, and generally just check those updates.  This experience was a good one I highly recommend, because it definitely helped me get my warped perspective straightened out.

Bonus tip:  Don’t go on Facebook hiatus during a month when you’re going on vacation or doing anything interesting.

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2 thoughts on “Facebook Free!

  1. You know, lately I’ve been finding myself unfollowing posts on my news feed. I realized that I frankly don’t care about the updates from these people and that reading those posts was just upsetting to me. While it’s nice to have any bitterness while scrolling through my News Feed, I do find that it is now clogged with ads and posts from pages, blogs, and groups I’ve joined. Basically, Facebook has become my new google reader.

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