My name is Lauryn Tuchman, I’m 38 years old, and I am a former Facebook addict.
I had been an active member of Facebook for almost seven years when I deactivated my account three weeks ago. I signed up in 2008 when my husband and I were expecting our first child. I enjoyed reconnecting with so-called blasts from the past — ex-boyfriends, high school “friends,” people from sleep-away camp. Five years later, I had 400-plus friends. I didn’t even realize that I knew that many people; I certainly didn’t have that many “friends.”
Browsing on Facebook had become a way to pass time — to read the newsfeed for updates on what was going on in my friends’ lives (and all those other 350-some people I “knew”). During both of my maternity leaves (I had my second child in 2011), it was a fun way to stay connected. However, once I was back into the routine of my job as a social worker and caregiver, I barely had any time to indulge in my hobbies of writing and reading — and instead of using that precious time to do so, I was on Facebook. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it had become addicting. I found myself distracted when spending time with my children or riding in the car with my husband.
What I neglected to realize at the time was that not only had Facebook become a pleasurable escape from the mundane, but it was also taking me away from simple moments I now appreciate and will never get back.
Truth be told, I also began to find Facebook a little anxiety provoking. I can be somewhat sensitive and have had my struggles with social anxiety in the past, so I found myself feeling slighted when close family or real friends appeared passive-aggressive with their postings, “liking,” or lack thereof. And I was finding out news — good or bad — on the site and felt obligated to respond.
Facebook started to reveal the lack of genuine intimacy in some of my relationships. It became a more superficial connection that I realized I prefer to live without.
My ambivalence about taking my “last look” on Facebook started to dissipate after my family and I moved to a new town about six months ago. I was excited about this move — joining the town pool, signing the boys up for sports and music lessons, filling our take-out book with lots of local restaurant menus and meeting new friends. I started sending and receiving “friend” requests and soon realized that I was learning more about the individuals and so-called “friends” in my new community without so much as a live two-minute conversation. I also felt like keeping up with new “friends” virtually and virtual new friends was more than I could handle. My social anxiety was ratcheting up. I was on social overload.
So I did it. I deactivated my account. I went through a little withdrawal—thinking about going back on and asking my husband if I was missing anything on Facebook. After a few days, I started to exhale and welcomed my down time again. I even finished reading (and thoroughly enjoying) a really good book in the confounds of my daily schedule—something I had not completed since our last vacation. And hey, for the first time in a long time, I’m writing again (while simultaneously fielding questions from family and friends inquiring as to why I have “gone off” and if anything had “happened”).
So no — I’m not opting out for a week or a day. I’m not leaving because I think I’m being hacked or get too many emails regarding my account.
I’m leaving you, Facebook, because since I have gone off I have enjoyed my newfound privacy with family and friends. I have also taken a more proactive role in staying connected with those that truly matter to me.
Recently I celebrated my first non-Facebook birthday. I received a dozen cards, a plant from a co-worker, several texts, and a few phone calls. While I didn’t get 100-plus messages on my Facebook page, I felt very loved.