Five years, and not counting anymore: Bye, Facebook (and Instagram)

Five years, and not counting anymore: Bye, Facebook (and Instagram)
Photo by Piotr Cichosz / Unsplash

In early 2019, I made a decision and deactivated my Facebook account. I can't believe it's been five years already. I haven't returned to Facebook; I completely deleted my FB account during these years. I left it deactivated because I had some group chats on Messenger that I wanted to keep going.

Later, perhaps during 2020, I started being more active on Instagram. It was fun! For a while. I quickly noticed I would pick up my phone, mindlessly scroll through the feed, and watch the reels. Fun! But it also ate through my focus and took a toll on my energy. "Why am I watching these?" I remember thinking.

I hate being addicted to anything. Each year, I stop drinking coffee for a month to prove I'm not hooked on caffeine. I feel the same way - and even stronger - on social media.

I love to connect with people - I've got a gazillion WhatsApp and Signal group chats that I frequently check. But I feel more in control of those, as I can exit any group I think is taking too much of my focus and energy. It was much harder to do on the general Facebook feed then. Leaving Facebook and Instagram has also freed me to be more social with people: I do more phone calls now. I meet people for breakfast and the occasional lunch. I think about other people more, as I cannot assume I know how they are based on a quick glimpse of a social media feed.

In 2019, I wrote:

"I hope to regain some of the lost clarity in thinking I've longed for quite some time."

And that I did, for sure. For many months, I even went as far as not using my mobile devices if I was in the company of others. It's funny how often people check their phones and smartwatches when they feel the device vibrate. I'm not judging, as I'm guilty of that sometimes, too - my kids might complain that I'm lost in focus while reading the morning newspaper on my tablet. But I love being focused and not doing multi-focus.

Two years after I decided to deactivate Facebook, I wrote: "Today, I rarely remember that Facebook exists." I have the same feeling today. People also mention Facebook less these days. I still miss the occasional announcement or invite to a housewarming party because those mostly happen on Facebook. And I'm okay with that - I'm not expecting special treatment because "I'm not where everyone else is." It's just a choice I want to make - decide where my focus, time, and energy are spent.

Today, I mostly use LinkedIn (for professional networking and the occasional business news) and a bit of X. I've removed the apps on my devices and mostly use these two services through a regular browser session. It makes it just a bit more painful on mobile, as not to continuously delve back.

Where do I then spend my focus, as arguably I should have at least an hour more time that I'm not spending on social media? Good question. When I was preparing for a fun inspiration session at ESPC'23, I listed up the most pressing things on my mind where I feel my focus goes these days:

They are not in prioritized order; just on the top of my head are the things I think about daily. It would be easy to squeeze in a solid Facebook/social media block, but I don't want to. Instead of staring at the little Internet screen on my phone, I can shovel snow, get 8 hours of sleep (minimum), and do my weekly gym sessions in solitude.

This will be my last post on leaving Facebook. After five years, I will never return to FB, Instagram, or other social media networks. LinkedIn and X, for now, will suffice.

Enjoy 2024, and I hope you, too, can regain much of your focus back!