Three months ago, I broke up with Facebook. With my stomach in knots, I navigated to the ‘close your account link’ and pressed it. No, I didn’t want follow-up emails. And no, I doubted those handful of friends it tried to guilt me with, would really miss my updates.
This wasn’t the first time my relationship with the social network ended. I temporarily closed my account at least a half-a-dozen times over the past five years. Yet, no sooner had I closed it, I was once again entering in my username and password. This time though, it was different.
Why I left Facebook
Irritation with user content was a consistent feeling during all my previous attempts to leave. This attempt was no different, but there was no heated battle of wills or keyboard damaging typing pounding above my desk. This time the decision resulted from the desire to take a step back from an overload of misplaced empathy-altruism, and what I felt was a public invasion into a private situation. I desperately needed to regain my privacy.
A few weeks before this decision, I began deleting photos from my account. I just didn’t want to over share my private life any more. I felt guilty removing family photos, especially those with my daughter. My in-laws and other relatives liked seeing these posts. While my daughter enjoyed seeing me posting about her and sharing stories of her with friends, would she feel the same way in five years or ten?
When I closed the account in November, it wasn’t with a finality. At the time, I thought I would be back. Perhaps, I would reopen it the next day or perhaps, I would cave in an hour or two. I’m surprised to find three months later, I’m still Facebook free.
The hardest thing about closing my Facebook account was the disconnect with my husband, Alex. We communicated casually through Facebook messenger while he was at work during the day. We’ve returned to using emails, which don’t offer the same conversational feel as a real-time chat service.
Hindsight would make a wonderful super power
In hindsight, rather than abruptly leaving (there was no farewell rant), I should have planned my departure better and spent a little time gathering email addresses for contact outside of Facebook.
No doubt my writing if anything, will one day drive my return. I have mixed thoughts of using the social media network for promoting my work. I’m advised by all sorts of people, publishers and institutions, that an author needs a Facebook account for networking and marketing.
Keeping the personal separate from the professional life creates an interesting challenge. Perhaps the solution lies with making the personal profile private by following some of these useful tips at Tom’s Guide on creating an anonymous account, while encouraging friends and family to like an author page. This would allow me to focus on my passion for writing.
Although I feel better for not being burdened with the tumultuous emotions that Facebook stirred, not having access to my Facebook writing friends, leaves a nagging gap. Perhaps a local writers group meeting could fill this hole in their absence, though it could never diminish the value I placed on these critical friendships.
Admittedly, I miss reading what my Facebook friends were up to in their lives, but resisting my Facebook addiction allows me to enjoy other things aside from reclaimed privacy. Things like renewing my Twitter connections, sending personal emails, and having more time for myself, family, writing and gardening.
For now, I will continue to ponder my professional social media presence while revelling in the freedom of my breakup with Facebook.