There is so much more to life than Facebook: we can go without it
I quit six years ago
For some of us, checking Facebook is automatic. It’s the first application we open when we scroll through our phones in the morning. Something many of us would struggle to function without. Like a caffeine rush, injecting us with doses of news, banter, friendship and games as we live out our day.
Such submission can drive us to lose our identity, as we immerse ourselves into the realms of other’s lives. The constant stream of new profile pictures, location changes and status updates often overloads us with information. Conversations with friends and family wither and die at ‘Yeah, I saw on Facebook’.
For me the loss of authenticity in face to face interaction and the exhaustion of trying to keep up with every detail of people’s lives, were the reasons I decided to end my relationship with Facebook. I was busy with upcoming exams and the constant comparison of myself to my peers was driving me into insanity. I had completely lost direction of myself and what I was trying to achieve. So… sometime in early 2011, I logged out; and I’ve never looked back.
It wasn’t easy at first. I really missed the ease of communication that Facebook offered; but I knew that the struggle would be worth it. I began to call and text my friends more, fully immersing myself in their company. Our exchanges were now more meaningful, which ultimately led to us building stronger relationships. Other (more general) acquaintances no longer knew every detail of my life; and it felt good. I also gained a lot of confidence in being able to approach people in person, rather than just ‘friend requesting’ and sending them a message. In many ways I actually began to soar – I was finally setting my life on track.
Living without social media wasn’t an easy task though. I became a little disconnected to world around me at first, but I soon found other ways that would give me what I needed, without the interjection of attention seeking Facebook updates. I longed for somewhere that felt less static. Platforms that would allow me to express and validate myself as the individual I am. Giving me the fluidity to try new things and meet new people. Somewhere far beyond the Facebook network I had built and their prying eyes.
Back in 2011, Twitter was just getting off the ground; unknown to many, yet established in it’s own niche. I was a quiet kind of person (back then) and so being able to share my thoughts and feelings without judgment was a blessing. In fact people on Twitter gave me something I had never gained from my 500 Facebook ‘friends’. They seemed to understand who I was and were often on hand to lend a listening ear as well as guidance and support. Within my first few months I had made many new friends from across the globe and was beginning to understand myself a lot more. These friends were there whenever I needed them, and the Timeline offered me jokes, intellectual conversations and news. Through my new friends, I realised that life wasn’t all about keeping up with others. That we could each carve out our own success, if we pushed ourselves hard enough.
My connections from Twitter soon branched to be friends of whom I would talk to on a daily basis – conversations laid out 140 characters at a time. One of these friends suggested that I set up a Tumblr blog to further explore my thoughts. So I did. I began blogging daily. Set myself a 365 day writing challenge. To my surprise I had people contacting me – commending me on my written work. There was one girl in particular who started messaging me on a weekly basis. Her words were always kind; offering praise and advice where necessary. 4 months after her initial message, I boarded my first ever train and traveled out 3 hours to meet her. An adventure in it’s own right and the first time I had stayed away so far from home. A journey of personal development. The shifting of gears between an online friendship and real life. Over the years those trips have become more frequent and I pride myself in knowing such an incredible individual – my best-friend for the last six years.
I was now motivated more than ever to push myself outside of my comfort zone and do something different. I remember watching some videos on YouTube and turned my attention to daily vlogging. An avenue where I could be comfortable in just being me; telling my own story, how I wanted it to be heard. I took inspiration from a Canadian vlogger I had been watching for a few months; grabbed a camera and just threw myself in at the deep end. The days of filming and editing were long. Constant enthusiasm was needed to go out and seek new adventures everyday. Vlogging had it’s own advantages. A full time post that allowed me to experience many new things as well as meeting a whole new range of creative individuals across many different mediums. I also got to meet the Canadian vlogger who had inspired me!
Instagram was something I had heard a lot about when I was on YouTube. I first used it as a means of sharing my photography but soon realised it could be used for more than that. I considered my options and turned to an old hobby of mine – poetry. I started an account and began a poetry/photography ‘blog’. Seven months into my poetry venture, a publishing company approached me and I was soon holding my very own poetry book. Not only did Instagram provide me with an amazing opportunity, but also allowed me to meet some very talented individuals.
Six years on and my Facebook account remains deactivated. Years of working on my own goals, without the daily hassle of keeping up with others lives, has allowed me to establish myself in a creative field. A simple decision that has led me to better connections and a wealth of international friends.