Social media didn’t explode until I was well into high school, and even then it was a new platform that people were still integrating into their everyday lives. By 2007, it was a complete social phenomenon and had completely changed the way people interacted with each other and presented themselves to their friends, family and even people who barely qualified as acquaintances.
At first, Facebook was an unbelievably effective means of staying in touch with family and friends on a daily basis; it was a great way to get to know new friends (or just to “stalk” them); it even doubled as a virtual time capsule for old pictures and other media you posted. Somewhere along the way, though, it became an overbearing monster that constantly bombarded you with news and useless information about everyone around you. The term “friends” came to mean less when one meeting constituted reason enough to be friends on Facebook. Of course, ambiguity of defining “friendship” meant you had to be careful about protecting your privacy. Your family members, neighbors, random people you met on a night out all became “friends” but in reality – how many people did you share (or want to share) your information with? Probably not even half.
Over time, Facebook – for me, anyway – became comparable to a party where I was perpetually stuck. All 600+ people on my list of friends were in attendance, and no matter how little I updated my status or added pictures, I was still witness to what everyone else was saying, who they were talking to and how much, where they were going, in what stage of their lives they were and so on. You could sit in your corner and be quiet, but the whole room was still buzzing with activity giving you mindless gossip to talk about or unhealthy thoughts over which to ponder. Especially during a time when I was transitioning from one stage of my life to another, and when I was still getting my ducks in a row, I finally realized I had to get off Facebook. I was in serious need for a Facebook detox diet and after over two months, I’m happy to say that it has done nothing but good.
If you can relate in any way, and especially if you’ve been considering hitting that deactivate button, I’ll tell you exactly why I think everyone should try this diet and why it’s chock-full of healthy benefits.
- I wonder less about what so-and-so is up to just because it makes good gossip. Let’s face it – everyone has that one person or two on the news feed who you barely talk to but always find a way to talk about. It’s unhealthy and, frankly, unkind. I feel better knowing I’m not tempted to talk for gossiping’s sake; it’s like standing at the checkout counter and not browsing the tabloids because I’m bored – just less pollution in your head and your heart.
- I’m not always rushing to post pictures or update my status every time even the most menial thing happens in my life. The point in enjoying a good meal is eating it, not telling everyone about how “just amaze-balls” it is. Granted, it’s nice to be able to share something new and exciting, but sometimes I felt like I was more excited to post something cool that happened rather than enjoying it in that moment. If it’s exciting and cool, I’ll share it with the select few people who I know might actually give a damn, otherwise it’s not that important.
- I am less tempted to turn to Facebook to “inconspicuously” spill my life’s problems. I was always pretty good, I think, at keeping my real issues with people or life off of Facebook. But the real problem is that the Facebook status update box is more like the confession booth at church or a shrink’s lounge chair: it’s inviting, and you know it will reach someone. It’s far more satisfying knowing that your words will be heard rather than taking them to a diary, where they’ll only be regurgitated back to you. Of course, therein lies the issue again – it’s too tempting. Facebook is terrifyingly accessible, sometimes more so than a friend, and it’s all too easy to want to say something you don’t really want to share.
- I feel a little less bad about myself. Going through a transition when you can’t see the end in sight isn’t easy in itself, but having a virtual newsletter of other people either doing things you’re not or having reached goals you haven’t yet makes the process more difficult. I’m not a resentful person, and I am more than thrilled for the successes of my friends and family; I enjoy hearing good news about others – but when it’s coming directly to me. On your bad days, it just doesn’t help when everyone’s business is in your face, and that’s just the truth.
- It has strengthened my relationships with my closest friends and shown me the weaker ones. It makes me sad sometimes when I see how much some of my closest friends relied solely on Facebook to keep our friendships alive after we moved on from school or other phases in our lives. I’ve always been firm that I don’t want to depend on Facebook to be the binding glue, and now I’ve seen where it was and wasn’t. Some of my friendships have survived without needing Facebook to support them. Honestly, it’s not an excuse in this day and age that not having a Facebook account makes it difficult to keep relationships strong. Text messages, emails, video chats, online chats, phone calls and, of course, the age-old practice of meeting in person are still widely accepted means of communicating, you know. Not being on Facebook helped me grow closer to many of my closest friends, and it’s been nice to be more personal than posting something on each other’s walls.
I’m planning on activating my Facebook account eventually, but I kind of dread being sucked into the addiction again. I fully recognize how useful it is and what good it has done for advancing the lines of communication between people; I enjoyed those benefits for years. For now, though, I’m really enjoying my Facebook detox diet, and I think if you will too if you give it a try. In order to be successful, though, you have to stay strong! Try it, and you’ll see why it’s worth it – even for just a bit.
Let me know your experiences!
- Facebook Detox: Dancing the Other Direction (caterpillartooth.wordpress.com)