Life Without Facebook

(This post is an amalgamation of three posts.)

As Facebook celebrated its 10th birthday on Monday the 3rd, I celebrated 1 year without Facebook. I knew my anniversary was coming up and I had hoped to send out a mass email to my former Facebook contacts so that they would know that I wasn’t planning on returning to Facebook and how they could still keep in touch with me. I wanted to send out an email soon because it turns out many were unaware that I had deleted my account. They simply assumed I was either still on their contacts list or that I (or they) had accidentally deleted the other from the list.

Here are some things I’d like to tell you about since my last post (see below).

What I have enjoyed

  • Those awkward ‘let me add you on Facebook’ in-person conversations where you feel forced to allow the requester to be added to your personal Facebook no longer apply to me. I tell them other ways to contact me. If they don’t want to keep in touch with you on Twitter or LinkedIn or email, then you know they never really planned on keeping in touch in the first place.
  • Hearing news directly from the person. Three friends got engaged in the past year and I’m so glad I could hear the news from them directly, as well as their engagement stories. I’m sure more friends and/or former classmates have gotten engaged, married, or pregnant since February 2013 but I’m sure I’ll find out one day. If not, is it really my business to know about all the going-ons in people’s lives?
  • I’m glad to have been able to arrange some Skype chats with my friends. We don’t get to very often these days, with so much going on in our lives. One chat, video chat, or phone call a year is always a pleasure.
  • I’ve been able to focus on blogging more and I’m proud of how far my blog has come along. I do have many post ideas prepared so please bear with me!
  • I’ve been tweeting more (it has clearly taken over my former Facebook addiction). I’ve enjoyed getting to ‘meet’ more people with common interests. In some ways, there’s not as much drama because we don’t know each other in real life.
  • Waking up on my 25th birthday and receiving only a handful of Happy Birthdays was quite disappointing compared to what I had been used to on Facebook. At the same time, I am grateful for the friends who remembered and wanted to make sure I knew that. I want to do the same for all my friends so I am determined not to be as forgetful this year!
  • Not having to deal with the Facebook changes that upset everyone so much. Quite entertaining to be the outsider. 🙂
  • Life has generally been more exciting and enjoyable. I think I’ve spent more time outdoors and taking part in various activities.

What I have missed

  • Having the majority of my family and relatives (the disadvantage of being a multiracial and multicultural family is being spread out around the world), friends (again, from around the world), classmates, and acquaintances in one place. Yes, we all have emails but even I have struggled replying to every one that I receive. Maybe most of us have Skype yet most would prefer reading updates rather than having conversations about what’s going on in each others’ lives. It’s unfortunate to have to do this to my family and relatives, as well as my friends, but I know creating a second account just for them would not work out well. I’d still end up with hundreds of ‘friends’ and would be pressured to add non-friends as ‘friends’.
  • I admit I’ve missed stalking people on Facebook. I miss going through their photo albums and seeing where they’ve been or what they’ve worn or simply how lovely they look. As mentioned earlier, it really isn’t my business sometimes, even if the photos are public or available for their ‘friends’ to see.
  • The convenience of being able to wish everyone a Happy Birthday as soon as I see the list of birthday kids on the front page. I tried to send HBD emails but only a handful received them in the past year and I’ve felt quite awful for forgetting so many, even though their birthdays appear in my iCalendar. 😦
  • Event planning was never easier when the majority of the invitees are on Facebook. Likewise, I’ve missed being invited to so many more events. On the other hand, I greatly appreciate my friends who remember that I’m not on Facebook and make the effort to text or email me to attend an event. I try to do the same but always feel terribly guilty when I forget some. :S

What I have learned

  • After Facebook, I became even more active on Twitter. My original account, however, had a mix of people I knew in real life and people who were royal-watchers. I made the silly decision to split the two, though it seemed to work for a while. Yet then I realised that my royal Twitter account was far more enjoyable and interactive than my personal account. Aside from a handful of friends who bothered to read my tweets, it was a ghost account. I ended up asking everyone from my personal account to follow me on my royal-turned-personal/public account and deleted the old one. Yet some good came from all this as I learned pretty quickly which ones did not want to maintain contact with me anymore. That’s understandable; I can tweet things I end up regretting. Or they have no idea what my new account is.
  • The most common excuse people with Facebook accounts tell me about why they can’t delete their account – though they express their deep wish to – is that they have too many family and friends around the world and it wouldn’t be possible. I laugh and tell them they’re talking to a mixed Third Culture Kid. It’s the story of my life and it had been my excuse too. Keep Facebook if it’s more convenient for everyone to contact each other. (If you have 50-100 contacts and you’re happy with the way it is, why not?) Delete it to know which of them actually do see you as a friend.
  • LinkedIn works just as well as Facebook when it comes to adding contacts. They’re not going to interact with you on Facebook anyway, so why not keep them in LinkedIn? It’s more professional and you don’t have to worry about accidentally sharing something too personal.
  • Twitter is the fastest way to get the latest news, in my opinion. 🙂

I am probably the only blogger who will not have a Facebook account or page but I have plenty of other things planned for TLATR so be patient! 🙂

Wise words from the Dowager Countess:

Photo source: @dauphiine

5 February 2013

Freedom from Facebook

I did it. I no longer have an account on Facebook. I said I would delete it and I have.

Originally, I planned to delete Fb some time in January. I would transfer photos and make my farewells over Christmas break. I had no idea how busy I would be so I thought I’d give myself the month of January. I started transferring some photo albums, then realised what a pain it was to transfer 100s of albums. I also spent the entire month transferring contact details from my Fb friends, which meant going through 700+ contacts to weed out the ones who weren’t my friends.

I realised by the last few days of January that I was running out of time. I didn’t want to have people think I was bluffing or to be discouraged from deleting my account. I refused to deactivate because I would only go back to it within a week or a month. I had to leave. It was time for change. So I announced that I would delete everything on Friday, 1 February.

That Friday night, however, as I was trying to download my Fb archive, I realised that it wouldn’t take 1 hour to download 6.5 years (member since 2006) worth of history from Fb. The next morning, I received an email from Fb, only to be told that my download request had been unsuccessful. I sent a million requests that Saturday but it wasn’t until that evening, just before bed, that my request went through. On Sunday, I downloaded my archive (967.7 MB) and requested Fb deletion. My account is currently deactivated but it will be permanently deleted by Sunday, 17 Feb. For your information, Fb gives you 14 days to decide if you’re 100% certain you want to leave. Well, I am certain.

Last words: FREEDOM!



2 January 2013

Why I am leaving Facebook

My friends probably don’t believe me when I say that I am leaving Facebook this month. But I am even though I’m still posting, liking, commenting, and messaging. If they’ve noticed anything, they’ll see that I’ve unliked many pages, deleted some photos and apps, deleted all my notes, and have removed some information.

After 6 years of Facebook, it’s time for me to take a break. I don’t like what it’s done and how it’s affecting all of us. I don’t care if people think I’m being anti-social or being backwards. Yes, there are many benefits to having Facebook. However, I’ve had time to think about friendships, connections, and communication these past few months and here are the reasons why I’m leaving.

  1. Facebook is not exclusive anymore
    At first, when I joined in 2006, FB was only open to those in unis and colleges. Pretty unfair to those who didn’t get into or chose not to go for higher education, I’ll admit. Then it was open to grads and students of secondary schools. I can’t remember when FB suddenly opened up to everyone but it really bothered me. It’s not just the creeps who tried to befriend me. Or the fact that we are forced to be ‘social’ and not exclusive (i.e. having the option not to receive anymore friend requests). I don’t feel safe and I’m upset that everyone seems to be unable to communicate in other ways.
  2. I’m getting paranoid
    Why isn’t this person liking my status? Why isn’t this person responding? Are we still friends? Why did this person unfriend me? Friendships are constantly formed and redefined but I can’t tell you how many times I felt like my life revolved around FB and suddenly I wasn’t sure about who my friends are just because of FB. Oh and temporarily deactivating FB won’t send a clear message to me that I should take a break from FB. I’ll just want to reactivate it immediately for fear of missing out on some vital information!
  3. Thinking in terms of FB
    Now I’m living my life in FB status updates. My life is narrated in FB updates – even when I am not on FB. How many likes will I get? What will people comment? How scary is that?
  4. Friends or not?
    This is my main reason. When I first got FB, it was about adding as many people as ‘friends’ as you could. That person you just met? Add. Your crush? Add. The cute person you stalked? Add. Add, add, add. Suddenly, I had hundreds of ‘friends’. I used to be very bad with the definition of friendship. I assumed all nice people were my friends. However, as mentioned earlier, friendships can change. Your once best friend forever is someone you no longer talk to. Your good friend suddenly dislikes you and you can’t figure out why. Your acquaintance from 2007 is now one of your good friends. How do we know? Based on how often someone likes or comments your post? On how much they say they have in common with you? On whether or not they have us on FB or share things with us? Are we supposed to keep everyone on FB? When do we remove people – if we don’t like them anymore?
    Sadly, at this point, I can’t remove any more people because if I do, I will only start drama. ‘Why did she keep our mutual friend and not me? What did I do? What a *****!’ These are things I don’t want to get into. Furthermore, trying to play around with the privacy settings for each ‘friend’ on my friends list is too complicated.
  5. Privacy flaws
    I think the first time I contemplated leaving FB was when I discovered that a deleted or old profile pic was still showing up on Google images. Not that I had anything to be embarrassed about but it bothered me that something deleted was not permanently deleted. Recently, I found out that cover and profile photos must be public. What if I don’t want someone to find me?
  6. Oh the drama!
    The cyber-bullying, the heated debates/discussions, and just drama in general over ‘nothing’. You’re never safe from criticism. Post an innocent cartoon you like and you’ll spark a debate. If you’re not the one getting hurt, it’s your friend who naively joined the conversation. I’m not surprised people have committed suicide over what’s happened on FB. I’ve had enough!
  7. An unhealthy addiction
    Every morning and just before I go to bed, I check FB. Not to say hi to my friends but to see what’s going on in people’s lives. To see who’s shown some love to me. Any messages? Any likes? Any comments/posts? Facebook was fun before but now, I’m paranoid (as mentioned in point 2). If I’m not on FB for one day, I’ll fall behind!

Well, what about the good things? Yes, people know there are these disadvantages, these things that no one likes. However, FB has helped keep us connected. I’ve even found people who I used to know from primary school! Plus, FB is like email-messenger/Skype-text in one! You no longer have to write letters or emails and ask people what’s going on in their lives because you can read all the status updates. No more email newsletters because that’s what FB is for. You don’t need to be logged into a million things at once – FB allows you to stay connected via ’email’, ‘Skype’, and ‘text’. Oh and FB is free so you don’t have to waste money on stamps and postcards, Skype calls, texts to those who live far away from you. Without FB, they say, it’s like you’re completely disconnected from the world.

I’ll take my chances then.

Trust me, this was a hard decision for me. As one who has relatives, family, and friends all over the world since I was little, staying connected is VERY important for me. But people don’t really email anymore. Or even Skype. My generation doesn’t call much either. Texting seems to be used for finding people or writing something so secretive that, thankfully, FB doesn’t have the privilege of being used. Maybe I’ve been able to stay connected through FB but I think it’s turned me and you and him and her into lazy people. Why the need to meet up if you’ve already seen everything (photos and updates) on FB? Why the need to call? In fact, have we become anti-social by joining this ‘social’ network?

I hope that by leaving FB, I’ll spend more time with my family, pets, and the friends near me. I hope that I’ll have more time to write in my diary. I hope that I’ll have more time to respond to emails right away. I hope that I’ll have more time to do things I’ve sacrificed doing, like reading. I hope my life will be less hectic and paranoid. If I must join FB again because other forms of communication are failing in the 21st Century, then I will open a new account – but I won’t just add anyone.

Also, dear friends, don’t panic.

I didn’t say I’m going to live as a hermit in some unknown land without internet. There’s still the old-fashioned forms of communication: letters/cards, e-mail, text, phone call, instant messaging, meeting up in person.

The question is (for all of us), are you willing to make the effort to stay connected?

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8 thoughts on “Life Without Facebook

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey. I am another blogger with no Facebook account (well I had it, then I deactivated it for a year, now it is activated but I do not use it).

    Life without it is nice for sure, I did find it was a social media platform which wasted so much of my time on pointless activities, but most importantly I figured the people who care and those who probably just want some life gossip off you. The reaction you receive by saying ‘I do not have a Facebook’ says all about what that person intends for the future.

    I also think life without Facebook has also made me appreciate what I have. I was a Facebooker who saw peoples pictures and profiles and think about what I could be doing, but now I just focus on what I want to do.

    • Thank you very much for sharing your experience and observations with me. 🙂 Facebook should definitely be called Stalkerbook. That’s all it is really!

      I’m glad to hear that you can focus on what you want to do. 🙂

  2. I know we tend not to talk about ourselves on our blogs, which is good, but then again I enjoy a straight post like this since we read frequently! If I told you I hated facebook but you need and personal page to have a site [like the tiaras & trianon FB page.]
    That aside I HATE Facebook; I find it annoying and I hate the way my personal information becomes pervasive. These are things I can do without. I almost never log on.
    You did bring up something I’ve never done, FB stalking. I’ve always had this “eh, who gives a f*ck” attitude. Now it sounds like a good way to pass the afternoon!

    • Thank you, my dear! When did you join Facebook? I joined in 2006, just before university started. I think it was around 2008 or 2009 when it started to become open to anyone. Every year, there would be some new feature that force us to lose our privacy. Whenever I read about new updates (and complaints), I’m thankful that I no longer have to deal with it. That said, however, I’m told that even if you tried deleting your FB account, they’ll always have a copy… 😦

      Oh dear, no, don’t get into FB stalking! You have (or had, now?) a good attitude which would have helped me. Ignorance is bliss, I tell you!

  3. Trust me. You’re not the only Blogger without Facebook account. My anniversary was a month ago (indeed, I did delete Twitter too… for me, it’s kind of the same stuff) and I keep my word: I’m never going back hehehe Good luck 🙂

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