A Year Without Facebook | 72 hours later

3 days has passed since my departure from Facebook, and I’m really starting to feel the void. I’m using Medium as an outlet to reflect on and evaluate my own progress — Check out my first write up embedded below — and to take time to really dig into myself and the part of my life Facebook had become. I’m in for another 362 days, and I can only hope it gets easier.

My routine every morning when I wake up is to grab my phone before I’m even out of bed and catch up on social media. I read a few tweets, go through my Facebook notifications, catch up on WhatsApp messages from abroad, check out a few Snapchat stories, reply to a few texts — including Facebook Messenger — and scroll down Instagram. I am still active on all of my other social media, but for some reason the lack of Facebook seems to overwhelm everything else. Without it, I constantly feel like I’m missing out and that I’m out of touch with my social circle.

There is an odd comfort that Facebook and Messenger bring you. Being engulfed by hundreds of people, even if it is on a screen, is addictive. You have a direct link to them. You can see what they’re talking about, where they’ve been, what they’re feeling, what they’re planning and what they’re laughing about. You feel connected; in the know. Even though you’re not physically in the presence of those whose posts you scroll past, or who come and go in your chat sidebar, you feel like they’re there, within reach. Just a button press away. It’s oddly consoling. It makes you feel .. included. It’s nice; you don’t feel alone.

Then one day, you leave.

You put it all behind and suddenly the weight of your physical life descends upon you. You realize that you’re much more alone than you thought yourself to be; that you had grown to use Facebook to fill in the voids of time where you had nothing else to do or no one else to be with. Facebook even became your escape when you had things to do or people to be with; perhaps nothing ever felt enough after you’d got a taste of all the comfort Facebook brings you. And now that you’ve closed the doors on digital escape, you no longer can avoid it. While you contented yourself with that soothing blue and white logo, you didn’t cultivate the real, physical friendships that you so longed. The irony of it all, is that you were reading about and liking photos of those connections, on the very medium that your indulgence robbed you of them.

It’s a very bittersweet feeling. I look back at the 8 years since I’ve made a Facebook account and only wonder how much it stunted or diverted my psychological and social growth as a 14 year old. I wonder who I’d be today if I hadn’t contented myself with over a thousand Facebook friends day in and day out, and not have become addicted to the extent that it began to adversely affect my happiness. But at the same time, I’m glad I finally took the steps necessary to address it. As unpleasant as all these realizations are, I’m relieved that I’m making them. I look forward to becoming more wholesome and free, without the need for a sea of digital ghosts to keep me company.

Of course, this is only a reflection of my life and my usage of Facebook. There are tons of people out there who hit the correct balance and use Facebook to augment their life, and I applaud them for it. This is certainly no assertion that Facebook is toxic for everyone, and that I’m special or unique for having taken a sabbatical. I certainly hope there aren’t too many people out there that have the same experience and approach to Facebook as I do. No website should be a drug that one uses to escape the pains of the real world. I’m learning that lesson day by day.

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