Born in 1990 and at 30 years of age, I am a true millennial. With my generation came the advent of smart phones, faster technology and, of course, social media. Tumblr, AIM, Myspace — you name it, my generation has touched it.
Senior year, I finally created a Facebook (late to the game, believe it or not). From then on, it was over 12 years of embarrassing pictures (duck lips + peace sign combo, anyone?), cringe worth statuses (“Gym, homework, then din din with my girlies ❤”), and a ridiculous amount of time “researching” (stalking).
Yet, Facebook didn’t always serve as a time waster. I certainly cannot deny the impact it had on my writing. Social media assisted me in not only sharing my published articles, but in acquiring new writing gigs, clients, and pitch ideas.
Thanks to both my personal and business page, I received messages about additional projects. In addition, numerous Facebook groups and events served as a quick, reliable resource for my local roundup articles of things to do and eat in the area.
By writing 3–4 posts a week on this, I learned that timely research was of the absolute essence, especially when I had other publications to write for. And sharing my articles in these events and groups increased my reach.
Once I was published in a few national publications, I earned respect from fellow peers, who congratulated me both in person and digitally. Facebook was my platform to boast, “I made it” and showcase not only my online and print bylines, but comped meals, free up-close concert seats, media kits/gifts I received for my writing, and celebrity interviews I conducted.
Insufferable? Possibly. Self-absorbed? You betcha.
Over the years, a slight shift in my attitude with Facebook slowly started to take place. With multiple media dinners and events per week, I had to post on Instagram, both my Facebook profile and business page, Snapchat, and both my Twitter profile and business account. This included snaps, stories, videos, and an all-encompassing post with carefully curated hashtags, location setting, tags, and caption all placed. I loved what I did (and the perks, let’s be honest) but hated how much time I was spending on my phone.
I started conducting monthly digital clean-outs on all my social accounts. This consisted of deleting older messages, weeding out unnecessary accounts I was following, deciding what groups I should stay in, etc. Then, it finally hit me: Facebook was overwhelming.
Between the constant stories, ranting novella statuses, multiple photo uploads, birthday reminders, updates from events/groups, and “On This Day” feature, I felt suffocated. I disabled notifications, left some groups, unliked a few pages, but it wasn’t enough.
Facebook was a gigantic information overload, and not in a positive way. I was becoming privier to the toxic way people talked to each other, the constant self-absorbed attitudes, and incessant fake news.
My writing seemed, in my humble opinion, like it was garnering less engagement and shares. Sure, I posted the occasional witty status, but feeling suffocated wasn’t worth my precious time or energy. The cons outweighed the pros.
I decided in March of 2020 to begin the weaning process. I carefully combed through all my photo albums and kept only the pictures I wanted, deleting the rest. Taking one final look at the groups I was a member of, I decided I would get my information elsewhere. I then deactivated Facebook.
Fast forward to August of 2020, and I decided I wanted to make the breakup permanent. In a painstakingly couple of hours, I watched every video I updated/was tagged in, glanced at every picture I was tagged in and saved the ones I wanted to my laptop. It was a manual process, but in no way was I going to download over 12 years of my information to go through later. I didn’t need to see Taylor Sift lyrics I posted as statuses, cheesy selfies, or any other shred of evidence that I was basic. Honestly, this cringe worthy process confirmed I was making the right choice. To manually delete posts or untag pictures would be mentally draining, no matter what bulk update Facebook rolled out next and how frequently I did it.
As for my 1,400 “friends”, I messaged a relative I had no other contact information for and pulled the plug: I finally deleted Facebook. And after 30 days, Facebook finally deleted me. Regarding Twitter, the process was a bit simpler. I manually combed through my Tweets for both accounts and screenshot replies, favorites and retweets from celebrity accounts.
Pathetic? Probably. Memorable? You betcha.
Since I had Twitter for less time than Facebook (7–8 years), my digital presence was slightly less cringey but more so provoked thoughts such as “Why did I set up MapMyRun to auto-tweet my workouts?”
Following the demise of these two social platforms was my YouTube account and old Gmail account (I permanently deleted Pinterest and Myspace years ago). I still have Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn, but my relationship with social media is much healthier.
I have a network of people I know for writing, and other methods of obtaining new publications for my byline. I still get pitch ideas and gigs, but through different mediums. I don’t post or scroll as much as I used to, and I cleaned out my social presence. For instance, I went from having 1500+ LinkedIn connections to 595, removed Snapchat “friends” that I no longer interact with, and decreased 1000+ posts on Instagram to 262.
Digital detoxes and social media deletions seem to be the latest wellness trend but to me, it was more about walking away from platforms that no longer served me. Someone told me he could not delete Facebook because of all the memories, but why not save the ones that mean the most to you and trash the rest? As it turns out, there were only 20–40 pictures I saved out of the thousands tagged and uploaded on my profile. I feel lighter, calmer, and happier.
More disconnected? Possibly. Regret free? You betcha.
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