The idea to take a break from Facebook came to me when I realized one evening that I was a lot happier on the days when I was too busy to log on and mindlessly scroll. Because on the days I could, I would login and read posts from my friends and family members and acquaintances. Most of the time I would be completely uninterested or even annoyed at some of the oversharing and statuses of a political nature. Some of the posts definitely were oversharing, like using the Facebook status function as an alternative to a diary. These were the worst, sometimes making me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. You know that awful kind of secondhand embarrassment? I didn’t want to feel that way anymore, especially about a lot of people I cared for and knew weren’t actually these strange Facebook drones in real life.
But the number one reason I began to believe that Facebook was a toxic for me was when I realized I was buying into all of this too. When I would post something I thought was interesting and the likes and comments began to come in, I would feel a sort of validation, like everyone who was liking the posts was telling me how much worth I had as a human. If I didn’t post about something cool I did or the place I traveled to or the really awesome meal I ate, it wasn’t real because no one else had acknowledged it. There were even a few times when I posted something I personally thought was great and the reception didn’t reach the heights of previous posts, so I would delete the entire thing. Without the validation, the Facebook status seemed completely pointless!
However, regardless of my presence on social media, I am—and we all are—a human being of worth. The things I do and the things I feel and think matter even if they only matter to me, personally.
During my hiatus, I truly realized that not everything I do needs to be seen or heard or discussed. The only validation really needed is from myself because if I feel happy and I know I’m happy—then I’m happy. It doesn’t matter if other people can see and acknowledge it.
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I also discovered that, with my presence lacking on the internet, my friends and I had more conversations on the phone. Instead of just texting or chatting through online mediums, I received and made more phone calls because we both didn’t already know what was going on in one another’s lives. This is a practice I’ve still tried to uphold as my days of breaking away from Facebook have ended.
Because eventually my hiatus ended, and I felt as if I had gained what I needed to. Facebook isn’t evil: it actually helps a lot of us connect to family members and old friends who live far away and in different time zones and who would otherwise be much more difficult to keep in touch with. The parts of it that promote this human connection are beautiful and are why I will never be a complete hater of the infamous social media site. Without it, I would probably not have as rich of friendships as I still do with people who currently reside in Australia, Denmark, France, and more. Or I wouldn’t have immediate access to photos my friends post when they’re traveling and going on amazing adventures!
But now I just make sure to still ask them about it on the phone and to not use it as the only way to know someone’s life and for them to know mine.This post was originally published on ASTRAL & OPAL