Why I took a four-month break from Facebook

Standing on a street corner waiting to cross. In a meeting room before the other attendees arrived. Eating lunch. On the phone with friends.

I didn’t know it, but I had a routine.

Mindless Facebook scrolling took up moments in my life when I could have been productive, or peaceful, or present.

I told myself I shouldn’t deactivate, because I saw real news on Facebook, and became more educated from my smart friends. I must also see the posts that I disagree with, to become more educated on the opposing arguments. Maybe I’d just log in less frequently.

I tried to cut back on Facebook by deleting the app from my phone. It was great at first, but then my browser began to index it as a frequently-visited site, and it was prominent in my mind once again.

I told myself I’d deactivate after the wedding, after I saw all the photos I was tagged in. You can’t deactivate social media before your wedding. It’s not the right time.

So I kept scrolling. And seeing the divisive posts. And clicking into the comments. (Why are we so sadistic?) And getting my spirits downtrodden.

It wasn’t until I found myself doing something I never did: Drafting comments to those I disagreed with. I saw a post by an acquaintance, expressing disdain at the fact that Kevin Spacey was a newly-confirmed creep. There were comments below from one person who was also sad, and another person who “didn’t buy” the story from the most public victim. I personally knew of someone who had nearly the exact same thing happen to him, and I began to write back. And edit the comment. And feel uncomfortable because I was writing on an acquaintance’s post, to a commenter I did not know. But I felt compelled. And then I felt exhausted. And then I immediately deleted it and texted my therapist.

It was the day before my birthday, and I was on the phone with my therapist, talking through the triggers I experienced that were bringing on anxiety. She suggested getting off social media. I wouldn’t, couldn’t.

Before the session was over, though, I had already deactivated.

And I didn’t miss it at all. For four glorious months I only had Instagram as my social media channel. It was an onslaught of gorgeous photos and the happy moments that friends had captured. I got married and got tons of photos without needing to be on Facebook. My friends still kept in touch and I kept an active social life. I found myself never wanting to go back to Facebook.

Then I started blogging again. I love blogging, because it’s a creative outlet that allows me to essentially keep a public journal of my beliefs and thoughts and fun times. I posted on Instagram every time I had a new blog post, but it wasn’t getting read as much. And I love when people comment and tell me their thoughts, advice, or personal stories. So I decided to do it: I would reactivate my Facebook.

I did, and I had tons of notifications from groups and friends. But after I scanned through those, I didn’t do anything else. I haven’t reinstalled the app on my phone. I haven’t logged in more than a handful of times. It doesn’t even really cross my mind. I don’t have to log in to Facebook to share my blog posts, either. WordPress does that automatically for me. I can use Facebook when I want it, but I really don’t want to, and I don’t need to. I feel so free and so much happier than when I existed within the grip of Facebook.

You might be struggling with the same thing that I was. It was feeding and triggering depression for me. It was strangely so hard to detach. I felt guilty and embarrassed that I was so affected by Facebook. I didn’t want to tell people openly, because I thought they wouldn’t understand, they’d scoff at my millennial obsession with social media and tell me to get over it. But that’s the same mentality that stigmatizes mental health (and really, isn’t that what that’s doing anyway?). I’m here to say that if you are depressed, anxious, or just sad from social media, and you want to detach, I understand. I hear you. Deactivate if you want; delete the app if you want. Do whatever it takes for you to feel happier. Just don’t add a feeling of guilt on top of everything you’re experiencing. Be selfish, and take care of you. ♥

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