Why I quit Facebook and only looked back a couple of times

Right after I left my married life, my friend Mandy told me to leave Facebook.

“QUIT FACEBOOK?!” I said. I knew I was addicted to it, and I knew it was unhealthy…but I didn’t know what I’d do without it. I truly didn’t. I scrolled through my newsfeed in any quiet moment. I think it kept me from thinking about the fact that my entire life was falling apart—or, during my marriage, that I was completely miserable.

I eventually did decide to quit Facebook. I was shocked to find that I actually did not miss it at all. I logged back in a couple of times, thinking “huh, maybe this isn’t so bad,” only to find myself feeling unhappy. For me, it wasn’t as much jealousy or sadness about my lack of a perfect life (which I know is the reason a lot of divorcees quit). It was more that I felt disconnected from people when I looked at my newsfeed. Here are all these people, living their lives, who I haven’t talked to—really talked to—in months…sometimes years. Looking at all these "friends" had me questioning who really cared about me, and who I really cared about.

When a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, I thought even more about Facebook’s worth. She and I are going through really hard times in our lives right now, and really hard times have a way of showing you who (and what) is really important to you.

If you had cancer, who would you want to know? Or, better yet, who do you actually think would reach out and call you? It’s easy to leave a comment that says “OMG I am so sorry,” but it requires an actual friend to pick up the phone and call you. And beyond calling you, who is going to bring you a casserole? To me, quitting Facebook made it easy to see who my “comment” friends were and who my “casserole” friends were. And at the end of it all, I realized I have zero need for “comment” friends anymore. I feel much more fulfilled with a handful of casserole friends than 500 commenters. In fact, my life feels much more sane without that peanut gallery of 500 commenters, period. It’s not that Facebook doesn’t add anything to my life—it actually feels like it subtracts.

A few months ago, I sat and watched my daughter play in front of a group of people who were taking photos and videos with their phones. It was like she was on television. The whole purpose of it was to show what an awesome time they were having with their lives, with this adorable girl—but they weren’t actually interacting with her. And what must it feel like to be on the other side of that? To grow up in a world where you are constantly on display?

C is still too young to be “connecting” with her friends this way, but kids who are in their 20s now are used to connecting with people artificially. There’s a whole generation of children growing up connecting with people via various media outlets, but not actually able to live their lives.

I feel very strongly that Facebook does not connect people. That social media, in general, does not connect people. I think it gives people a false sense of friendship and creates laziness in relationships. Why bother actually connecting with a human being if you already know what is going on in their lives?

What do you think, dear friends? Could you ever see yourself “quitting” Facebook? Do you think it’s helping you connect with people, or hurting your real friendships?

23 thoughts on “Why I quit Facebook and only looked back a couple of times

  1. Abby K says:

    I think this is a great post. I quit Facebook years ago, but you’ve put it in much better words than I ever did. Brava!

  2. Suze says:

    My husband quit Facebook a few months ago and I’m DYING to follow along, but I have to use Facebook for my job, so I can’t. I use Twitter a lot, and that’s all I want to use. Facebook is obnoxious and draining. I don’t care about all these artificial “friends” I have on there that I don’t really talk to. I want to talk to real people in the real world.
    Ugh, I dislike Facebook so much.

  3. Danielle says:

    I’ve been considering it for a few months, but haven’t done it yet. I stopped using it much during the Olympics and it felt good!

  4. Karen @sugarspicelivin says:

    I totally get your point. Facebook is 100% a ‘look at my great life’ arena. Like most things in life- I take it with a grain of salt. But I do think I connect with people on Facebook- or at least Facebook helps me keep that connection with people. I may not talk to a good friend monthly, but if I check out her facebook page, I can get a glimpse of what’s going on with her between the times that we do get to connect. You could say that I should just be calling her weekly to connect, but for the last few months- with a new baby, move, new job, etc- I just haven’t had the energy to make those individual connections. Nor have I had the ability to contact those people individually to let them know what is going on in my life.

    The irony is- I clicked on the link to this post via Twitter- another social media outlet. So in a way, it does connect people. Is it personal? I think social media is what ever you put into it, or whatever you personally take away from it.

  5. carrie loves says:

    Both my husband and son quit Facebook, for different reasons, and my daughter told me last week “nobody uses Facebook anymore, we’re on Twitter.” I’ve been thinking about it, and now I’m thinking about it even more. Your post just might have me headed in the right direction. Thanks.

  6. Stefanie says:

    Interesting discussion. I think we all have different things we want and need out of relationships. Interestingly, I think I interact the least on Facebook with the people that I *do* call, or who call me…but I still maintain those casserole friendships offline to my (and hopefully their) satisfaction and fullfillment, and get a lot of satisfaction from the comment ones I maintain too. It helps me in difficult times to know/believe that many people are pulling for me, wishing me well, checking on me, and hoping good things for me…and I believe that even if these people are unable or unwilling to be my casserole friends, they truly ARE wishing me well and thinking of me…just as I think of them, and wish them well…just as I have thought of you, and wished you well. But if those “relationships” (or lackthereof) *don’t* fulfill you, and in particular if they bring you down, then I am glad you have the wherewithall to recognize that and cut them off. (And as a comment friend, I’m glad you at least came *here* to let us know that it’s a better choice for you right now…b/c, you know, I’ve been thinking of you, and wishing you well…and now, despite the fact you don’t need it at all, I can comment anyway to tell you that)… 🙂 Take care.

  7. Sara Olsher says:

    Oddly, Stef, I don’t consider you a “comment” friend. I consider you an online friend. And really, online friends CAN’T be casserole friends. You guys are a special breed of awesome, and YOUR support (and that of my other e-friends) means a ton to me. Logging on to FB and seeing a “close” friend of mine is about to give birth when I didn’t even know she was pregnant? THAT is a comment friend. hahahaha. Thank you for your well wishes. 🙂

  8. Sara Olsher says:

    Interesting point! I think for me, Twitter is better because those are my “online” friends. They’re also conversations most of the time. Versus Facebook doesn’t even make you say anything—you can just “like” it.

  9. Sara Olsher says:

    I use Facebook for my job too! I created a new online account with no friends and have found that I am STILL logging on and scrolling through it mindlessly! What is wrong with me?!

  10. Sarah says:

    Great post! I am on facebook wayyy less now that I’m, umm, “between employment” and not sitting at my desk all day bored. And you’re right, it’s totally liberating! Especially with election season… BARF. I also axed like 200 people off my friends list which felt good too. Love the commenter/casserole analogy! So true! : )

  11. Tiffanie Wong says:

    Hmm…I have mixed feelings about Facebook. I do like being able to connect with people I don’t have the opportunity to talk with on a more regular basis but I do agree with you that it can, in many ways, disconnect us more than connect us. Far too many of my Facebook “friends” are people that I probably wouldn’t even recognize if I passed them in the street and others are people I once felt close to but have since drifted away from. When I think about this,it makes me sad. The other day, I saw that my “best friend” changed her status update to ‘in a relationship’…I didn’t even know she was seeing someone. Our lives have diverged after I got married and had a baby and as much as I’ve tried to stay a part of her life, I guess we’re just in different places now. I do sometimes wonder if Facebook weren’t around, maybe we’d have to try harder to keep in touch and really talk?

    There are many times that Facebook makes me feel more alone than connected and I’ve struggled to figure out why. Perhaps it’s that reading about people’s lives and finding out major news about them online rather than right from the source is a little depressing. Your post put it into words better than I could and maybe someday I’ll be able to pull the plug too!

    Also, can I just say without sounding weird and stalkerish (since we’ve never met) that I do actually think of you often, wonder how you’re doing and hope that you’re well. Having been through a divorce, I know how painful it can be. Oddly, I think of you as someone that I would probably be friends with if we ever met in real life.

  12. Turtle says:

    I have found since I’ve been working from home that facebook is a very positive thing in my life. It connects me with other people for the kind of social chatter that I miss during the day. I’m an extreme extrovert and it was a stress on my “real life” relationships when I made the transition to working from home because I didn’t have the kind of social outlet I needed to feel sane. Since I’ve found facebook and since I’ve been reconnecting (albeit in fairly superficial ways—although some of my reconnections have led to real life meet-up’s) with old friends—I have found that I make a better partner and friend for the people who need more than just superficial attention. I don’t know if this makes sense. I do see how it can be an incredibly negative thing if you’re in a bad spot though because you can feel like people are using it as an engine of bragging or gossip mongering and that can be really gross—so I think it’s really about where you are at in your life, fostering the relationships you need, and protecting yourself from all the chatter if it’s bringing you down. Of course, I’ve also never gotten into the blogging world like you have—so maybe if I had done that (I’ve never been inspired to write complete posts and It would probably make my extremely private and introverted husband very uncomfortable) I would find the facebook connections to be less fulfilling. Wishing you and C all the best.

  13. Chanel Jibal says:

    Quitting Facebook has been a constant battle in my life. That in itself is sad that it’s such an important part of people’s lives. Almost like a drug addiction lol. Sometimes I wish it would just crash and burn. Problem solved.

  14. alex says:

    I don’t feel like Facebook in and of itself is hurting real friendships. It’s all in how the people use it. In some instances, I think it can even help build friendships and connect people. The best example I can think of is an amazing trip I took to southern California last month. There I met with a group of mommies whom I met when we were planning our weddings and were all part of the same online forum. After our weddings, when we were all having babies, we formed a group on FB and have managed to use it for group therapy and to support one another. Last month we had a big get-together with mommies flying in from the east coast, midwest and Canada to spend a long weekend together…. many of us meeting in person for the first time, yet we’ve been friends for the last five years. It was a wonderful experience that I will cherish for a very long time.

    I also know that Facebook should be used with much more caution that most do. With kids growing up with FB in their lives, it’s up to parents to teach them how to use it properly too. It’s not a replacement for how to be a real friend. I hope to teach my son to be a casserole friend and not a comment friend. Love the analogy!

  15. Soveliss says:

    I deactivated my account. It’s been a week so far and I feel good about my life now. Facebook was addicting, depressing and boring. Within a month, I shall decide whether or not to delete it for good.

  16. LisaBrownDesign says:

    Great post! I quit & deleted my Facebook account about 3 weeks ago, and it feels great. I’m hoping to live my life more offline, though I admit that it’s a bit hard at times. Quitting Facebook was something I HAD to do as a mother, to really be there for my kids. I see what you mean about comment friends & casserole friends. It’s a bit sad to see how many people don’t make an effort to contact you once you’re gone from Facebook, but I guess that’s just the way it is. And, even better, I’m able to focus on building stronger relationships with those few , but amazing casserole friends. 🙂

  17. Kimmy @AfterGlobe says:

    I’ve wanted to quit FB many times, but haven’t. For me it’s about networking and business promoting. It’s a huge platform to bring more ppl to my site. However, I have cut bak considerably and mostly only use it for work.

    I applaud you for quitting, recognizing what it was doing to you, and being fully media-free connected to your daughter.

  18. Kate/wishuponakate says:

    This makes so much sense, particularly the last part about “close” friends who have put major life changes on FB, but you never heard it from them first… that’s a real blow. And I’ve definitely had to reconcile the downgrade of those friends for doing that. It just becomes oh so clear how important they think you are in their life, despite what you thought.

  19. Julie S-A says:

    For me, while I struggle with some of the aspects of Facebook that you mention, I actually find it makes me feel more connected to the world and to my friends. I have always been one of those people who tried to stay in touch with most of the people who have come into my life. I am one of those people who always wanted to know what so-and-so was doing and if s/he was okay and where in the world s/he had moved to and how his/her family was. I keep friends for a long time, if not for life, and derive most of my energy and satisfaction from my connections with them. In this ever-changing world where few people have time to make a phone call (goodness knows since having a kid I barely have time to shower) and people are scattered all over, I find Facebook to be just what I needed to make me feel like I hadn’t lost all of those people I tried to hold onto. I know not everyone is like this and I know not everyone wants to be. But for me, it works, and I have reconnected with people from my past that I am very happy to have reconnected with. And while they are mainly “comment” friends, when the chips have been down, so many people have come out of the woodwork for me offering me very *real* support that they couldn’t do otherwise—most of them don’t live close enough to me to make and bring me a casserole.  I do have some Facebook friends who are just comment friends, but they are not the majority.

    Like I said, however, I totally see how Facebook can be depressing, damaging, and isolating. For me, it has mostly (not always, but mostly) been a way for me to feel connected to the world and to those I care about when it is often difficult to do so in my increasingly busy life.

    P.S. I love how I can log on to post my comment using Facebook! 😀

  20. Sara Olsher says:

    I didn’t even know you could do that with facebook, Julie. 😉 Must be a new feature of my comment system! Pretty cool.

    I am glad that Facebook allows you to stay connected with people. The world certainly is ever-changing! I used to think people without Facebook were totally nuts. Now I see both sides. 😉

  21. Sara Olsher says:

    OMG, is it EVER!! I totally agree with you. It seems like so much networking is done on Facebook – and for that reason I don’t know how long I will be able to maintain being completely “off” it. But hopefully I won’t re-install the app on my phone, ever. 😉

  22. Julie S-A says:

    I really think it depends on the person as well. What is positive for some people can be extremely negative for others.
    Luckily, I grew up in a world without the internet so I learned how to interact with people in real life and I think I still kept that skill. 😀 I do wonder about future generations though…. I also wish I could “unplug” a bit. It is quite addictive.

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