At the end of last year, I wrote that I decided to close my Strava account and described why. In that post I mentioned that I have future plans, to also leave Facebook. After more than month I can say, it has become, and I do not use this social media anymore. I will still use it in very limited way, because it has several advantages, but nothing more. This post is about why I decided to do that and what’s wrong with social media like Facebook. You don’t need to be aware of it, but they have very negative impacts on our lives and in last months, it’s very clear visible.
I have use Facebook for several years, but probably I’ve never been so active on it. Of course, there was a period, when I posted few times a week, but it was long time ago. In the last year, maybe two I felt, that something is not ok and maybe social media have negative impact on me. I watched “Social Dilema” movie and recommend it – it’s about ex-workers from big companies like Twitter, Youtube, Facebook or Mozilla. This movie can show you not real purpose of them – you are like a sheep, to diagnose and gain more information what they should sell you – but also sad truth about how they work: in reality, nobody knows that now. Personalization functions are so complicated, and nobody can say, what they will suggest in each case. It was important, but not only this. I read some interesting books and research show, that there is real negative impact on our perception of the world.
It’s waste of time
I have not used Facebook mobile apps for some time, but I spend many hours on the computer every day. It’s very simple to just open any website “just for a minute”. In reality, not just for minute, but for 10, 15 or more minutes. And in 99% of cases, it was complete waste of time: I did not find anything real interesting or valuable for me, I lost my focus and flow, I sometimes got angry because of stupid posts or unnecessary discussions. Where are advantages? Break in work, relax? Oh no, it’s not break and it’s not relax – it is one of the stupidest explanations people give! Social media can’t help you. They want to trick you and kidnap for longer than you planned.
It’s much better idea to get up from the desk, put down the phone and look out the window: just to see other people, maybe forest, maybe river, maybe mountains… Something real, not another virtual thing, interesting but not possible to feel in the same way. It’s much better to spend just few minutes with your child, your partner or pet. And if you want to stop do breaks like that, just logout, remove password or install app like “SelfControl” to block any websites for a limited time.
Other issue: Facebook wall is a real sewage, a crap. It tries to show “most relevant” things, but in most of cases, it didn’t. I decided to stop observe ALL of my friends, dislike all websites and all groups. Because it was useless. Groups on Facebook is another pain in the ass: maybe I’m old, but I really prefer discussion boards or tools like reddit. They are categorized, moderated in much better way, they have great searches, they are indexes on Google so it’s easy to find older, but still helpful information. In comparison, groups on Facebook are like fast-food: just post something, discuss day or two and forgot about that… It’s impossible to meet new people, to build some nice relationships over internet with such approach. Everything is so fast, only for short period and without deep value. Of course, they are ok for such quick questions but… if I have better alternative, why do not use it?
Do not understand me in the wrong way – I do not want to create a wall against other people. I want to care about my privacy and really, you don’t have to know anything about me, about my plans. Of course, I do not have to share anything, but sometimes want to do this, but only for a limited group of people. There is a big drawback of Facebook options – we can create friends groups, we can then post something only for certain groups, but we can’t just post something and say: “hey, I don’t want that friend to see this” because of… A lot of possible reasons. Very often we do want to show some things to certain people and it’s difficult to do on Facebook. To be honest: we can have a lot of friends, but we do not like all of them in the same way, in the same level. It’s fine that we want to treat them in different way.
I know social media can be a great inspiration and great motivator for many people. But… I’m not from a group which needs such things. I do not need external inspiration and external motivators, because I have a lot of ideas, a lot of plans and only time and only sky are my limits now. Looking for someone’s plans, adventures, successes is fine, but it can cause that we would like to be similar and we will… change our plans! This is very bad, and I don’t want to do this anymore. Each of us have different ideas, different life and all of them can be great in unique ways. I really appreciate my friend’s ideas, their challenges but… They are not my ideas, my challenges. Do you understand that? Because of social media, we can lose our themselves, it’s very cruel.
It causes we compare to other
Similar problem to Strava segments, but real problem. According to research, like “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?” from 2013 we WILL compare to others if we use social media. We can say: “no, it isn’t my problem”, but it’s not truth. Most people get angry when they see for example… friend’s pictures from holiday. They want to do the same! They want to compare, to be equal and to chase away other people. Envy is very bad thing, but we build it, we support it when we use social media – probably unconsciously, but we do it. We like notifications, likes. They are like gifts and give us dopamine, like drugs: we a happy for short period, and after they, we want more… and more and more. After that, there is FOMO – “Fear of missing out”, checking phone every few minutes, even if we have enabled notifications. I already wrote about that in one of previous posts about disabling notifications. I have not used them for few years and still think, that was great choice.
There is other important thing – how often do you see something BAD on Facebook? Probably very rarely and you can see only good moments from your friend’s life. It’s ok, because probably nobody wants to share sad things but… just look, how it works: you know your problems, you have to deal with them every day. Maybe it’s disease, maybe something wrong with your relationship, it doesn’t matter. You have problems, then you open Facebook and can thing: what a shame… I have terrible life, other people are happy, they have a lot of fun time. And it’s not true. You do not know about many bad things in their life. You should talk with them, not observe their “ideal social life” and compare to them. In other case, you will never win, and you will never happy – because their “100% positive” life will obscure your successes. Do you really want to do this? It’s like a suicide.
One more problem: discussions, comments on posts about politics or moral issues. They are a great place to argue, to offending other people and to influencing our beliefs. In last years, there were several examples of how social media can influence for example elections. It’s another crap and I don’t want to take part in this any longer, I have much more interesting things to do. I have my beliefs: for example, I hate current Polish government, I have social programs, I’m capitalist and think, we should work, do something to gain something. But is it a good idea to try convincing somebody? Probably not, probably it’s just waste of time, because I can write a lot of things, do a list of advantages and disadvantages, but we will still be on opposite sides. Really prefer to talk in real life, not online.
Facebook will be like a hammer now
I decided to stop using Facebook website and most of it features but will still use Messenger. It’s because a lot of my contacts use that app and it’s ok. Probably some of them moved or will move to Signal or Telegram after last news about Messenger and WhatsApp privacy issues, but it isn’t trouble for me. I use Messenger only as separate desktop app on my computer and do not install it on my smartphone. It isn’t only privacy trouble, but huge battery drainer. Really do not like this crap because of that. Will I miss something? Probably yes, but my family and friends know, that if there is something important, they should just call me or send me a text message. Most things do not require my immediate attention so I can skip them and read later.
I will also use Facebook sometimes to sell something or advertise something, and maybe to observe some local communities’ events. I’m finishing my first book and can’t lie – social media are good to advertise, to gain new clients and to build personal brand. It will be an experiment, and if it will not work, I will leave Facebook website completely. For several months, it’s only a tool, like a hammer – I can use it for driving nails, but nothing more, and should not try to use it for example for cooking. It’s bad idea and there are much better tools to do that. Leaving another social media shows me another thing – we do not have to do something big to feel much better. It’s enough to STOP doing something to feel much better and have better life. I can say only few words here: just try, and you will see, it’s a new kind of magic in our strange times.