I signed out of Facebook on Monday after changing my password and pitching it. This is my third attempt to withdraw from the site. My first try involved deleting the app from my iPhone and iPad. That didn’t work because I soon realized I could just sign in using my phone’s browser, and I was back scrolling away. The second involved subscribing to Freedom.to and blocking out Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other time wasters eight hours a day. Then I figured out, relatively quickly, that I could access FB by signing in using the password app on my phone to auto sign in through that app. Does anyone see a problem here?
I’ve read several books and articles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, i.e., social media, how the creators of those platforms knew they were creating something highly addictive and went ahead and did it anyway. It stokes our brain’s dopamine receptors in a way nothing besides opioids have been able to accomplish.
One of the books I read, Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi, cited studies showing that social media is changing the way we think and process information. Not for the better. People are becoming more distracted, less able to concentrate on in-depth articles or technical information, and generally, we are less logical. In my case, I began to think I couldn’t think at all. An author I follow said she began to notice that if she came to a place in her writing where she was stuck, she’d reach for the phone and social media. Avoidance and distraction.
So, Monday was my third try. I wrote to family and friends and told them if they wanted to get in touch with me they could Skype call or send an email. That was in the afternoon. Tuesday was really day one, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared. There was a period in the morning when I usually sign in to post political links or just see what people are up to when I felt mildly anxious. I reminded myself that I had a life before FB and I could survive without it. I meditated and found the day opening up.
Tuesday is the day we see our chiropractor—miracle man, but that’s another post—so we drove to Limón for the appointment. I began to notice things and at first thought, Oh, I should post that. But then my inner voice said things like, Why don’t you write about these instead of instantly sharing everything? I took out my old writer’s notebook and jotted down my observations, like the line of bright red taxis at the grocery store, men pushing them into place to save gas as fares got picked up; three women calling Chances! Chances! Chances! as they waved lottery tickets at me when I passed their makeshift table; or the ragged homeless man in the market trying to sell some poor tourist’s bright purple suitcase, the airline destination tag, SJO, still strapped to the handle. In other words, life began to slow down, and my eyes became keener as I climbed off the hamster wheel of scrolling through never-ending posts.
It is true that social media is a useful organizing tool, and I think the Parkland school kids are doing a great job driving home their message of fewer guns and safer schools efficiently. Initially, I got on the daily posting routine because of the current administration. Last year I think my FB friends were organized and participating in the resistance, but I’ve felt more and more that people are just bellowing into the echo chamber. I think I can do more by blocking out the time I spent on social media to call and write legislators. believe me, I’m still getting the calls to action in my email app.
There are things I will miss: family and friends’ posts, writers, groups I’ve participated in, and a connection with people I felt living at the end of the road.
I’m shooting for an initial 10 days of cold turkey withdrawal. When I no longer think, Oh, I should post that, I figure I’m headed to where I want to be. They say it takes 60 days to form a new habit and falling back into old habits is easier than creating new ones, so…
I will be back at some later date, but only after I figure out how to make Facebook work for me rather than me being a slave to it. I’ll probably get more books read, too.
13 thoughts on “Detoxing from Social Media”
Did you find ANY way to totally close your pages down permanently? ~other than blocking it from your own devices?
Is there no way to CLOSE IT DOWN FOREVER?
I want to turn my Facebook page off at the source, so that nobody anywhere, anytime can log on to it.
Hi, Don. You made me laugh. Ah, I thought, another soul out there fed up with the whole thing. There is a way to totally deactivate your account…as follows:
If you’re like me and want to do the same, here’s how:
Tap the drop-down menu on the top right of your Facebook page and select settings.
Tap the General button.
Select “Manage Account”
Tap “Deactivate your account”
Are you sure?
That’s it. Now you’re done. You’ll end up back on Facebook’s login screen.
I do want to keep the account…would like to post things like, oh, a link to this blog post for example. But it’s a bit like just trying a little touch of that heroin for me at the moment. Good luck!
Thanks for the follow-up note. You may be right not to totally deactivate FB. Like you, I periodically have the urge to do something on my page. Instead, however, I have re-activated a blog that I started some years back. ‘Himalayan Snows’ deals directly with my professional interests (writing, anthropology, leading trips to Bhutan and Nepal where I have spent many years as an anthropologist and, earlier, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and the like. So… hmmm. Maybe I’ll just clear out as much of the old and dated posts as I can, and only occasionally [!] post something to FB…, now and then, whenever the spirit hits me and I have the time to fiddle with it… 🙂
Yes, I’ve recently resurrected this blog as a counter to the clatter of Facebook. And I just tracked yours down and will sign up for updates!
It’s funny that you want to drop out, Sarah. I’ve found myself wishing, on occasion, that our writer’s group could be on facebook. I’ll share your blog!
Thanks for sharing the post, Myra. Twitter auto-posted but I don’t think FB did because I changed the password. I joined writer’s groups on FB and while I like them, I don’t seem to have the where-with-all to avoid drifting into the general feed. So…I’m off for now. BTW, FB Purity, a chrome extension, will change the FB feed to “groups” or “friends” or whatever you choose. That may be my re-entry mode. Right now I have no confidence in my ability to go on, post, and leave.
Love to read your blog, Sarah. People seem to be getting fed up with Facebook these days. Sometimes I feel like opting out of everything but keeping the Internet (for research purposes and news). Can’t live without my internet though that’s awfully invasive in ways I don’t even realize.
OH, HI, Maya! Thanks so much. And about FB, I definitely hear you. I got so much more meaningful writing done before I joined several social media sites. Partly, I’m fed up with their refusal (greed?) to force people to attribute ads, leading to the horrific propaganda surge in the 2016 election, but also just how much time I spend on the site that really doesn’t benefit me, only the platform.
Great post! I changed the password using the 1 Password generator, which is only on the laptop. Both the iPhone and the iPad are FB free. Now to get rid of Instagram on the iPad (done!). So now I can only access it on the desktop, which I rarely do. Last night I spent a good two hours rearranging my home office to be more writer-friendly. Do I have an urge to post the new look on FB or IG? NO! Maybe a blog post but otherwise I did this for me.
We’re in this together, sister! I saw your email, which spurred me to write this blog post yesterday. Thank you. It’s amazing how the day opens up in a much more leisurely way without the urgency of FB pushing me to check and check and check. I’m still in the early stages of detox but I think this time (third time’s the charm?) it will stick. Like I said, I do want to eventually get my password back, but not for this first week or ten days. Those neurotransmitters are still firing occasionally but not like Monday night and Tuesday morning.
I hear you, Sarah. I’ve been trying to wean myself from FB for several months now (some days I’m more successful than others), and a lot of what you wrote here, both your own experience and those of others’ you shared, rang some serious bells. My productivity has dropped violently, and my general sense of mental wellbeing has also diminished. Blogging, on the other hand—writing in general, I suppose—seems to add to my overall happiness, so (like you) I’m trying to devote more time to that. Both my blogs have been nigh-abandoned over the past two years, and that’s a crying shame.
Because of book promotions, though (my next book is due out in April), I can’t deactivate my FB account or even disconnect from it in any significant way. My options are reduced to one: exerting firm discipline on myself… I’ve never been any good at that, but—well, old dogs certainly do learn all sorts of new tricks, so maybe I’m not quite as lost a cause as I think 🙂
Will miss your FB posts, though. That means I’ll be a frequent visitor here.
Guilie @ Quiet Laughter
Thank you for stopping by, Guilie. First, ¡Felicidades! on the book release in April!!! WOW, great news! Keep me up to date on that event, please. Today marks ten days off FB and I find it’s getting easier and easier as the days roll by. My re-entry will be through Hootsuite[dot]com where all I can see is my own Timeline. Same for Twitter. I have a free account, and I’ll post and move on. You might check that out as a way to post book updates without dropping into the rabbit hole that is FB. Meanwhile, if you are starting to blog again, I’ll sign up for updates again. Nice to hear from you and, yes, let’s meet here and over at your blog.
It’s a deal! And great tip on Hootsuite; I used it way back when I began my social media life, but then found it rather redundant (for how I used SM back then), so I stopped. I’ll definitely experiment with it now!