Digital Life
Charlotte Hannah
February 08, 2013

There Is Life After Facebook, and It’s Kind of Nice


So, I’m one week into my Facebook Fast, and I have to say, things are going pretty well. And no, I haven’t slipped up yet. As I predicted, I’ve filled the hole that Facebook left in the time I spend on the Internet with Reddit and Twitter.

I also downloaded a crossword app on my iPhone to keep me busy in waiting rooms and on long car trips. That’s a positive thing, right? See? Ditching Facebook has already made me a better person.

I haven’t begun creating the world’s most epic grilled cheese sandwich yet, though. Maybe next week.

A study came out this week that confirmed what I’d suspected — I’m not alone in my decision to take a Facebook hiatus. The study showed that 61 percent of Facebook users have voluntarily taken a break from the site at some point. One enterprising 14-year-old even managed to turn her Facebook Fast into a moneymaking venture by convincing her dad to give her $200 to quit the site for five months.

Photo credit: Paul Baier

(On that note, if anyone would like to retroactively sponsor my Facebook Fast, let me know and I’ll tell you where to send the money.)

Folks who had taken breaks from Facebook frequently cited the social networking site’s negative effect on their productivity, as well as a plain old decrease in interest, as reasons for their hiatuses. The study also showed that users between the ages of 18 and 29 have been spending less time on the site in the past year, and that a measly 12 percent of respondents considered Facebook to be “more important” to them now than it was last year.

Are we losing interest in Facebook? It would seem so.

My personal experience supports these findings. When I first started using Facebook maybe five or six years ago, I updated my status several times a day, mostly with inanities like:

Charlotte is drinking tea, listening to music and writing an essay!

Or,

Charlotte wishes people could understand =( (followed by some melodramatic song lyrics, of course)

Nowadays, like I said in my previous article, my activities on Facebook are mostly limited to keeping up with friends who no longer live nearby and sharing interesting articles and funny pictures. Rarely do I post updates about what’s going on in my life.

Part of this can be chalked up to maturity and a growing disinclination toward compulsive sharing, but a lot of it is because I just don’t care. Facebook is a pretty boring place. I may check it compulsively, but since I’ve given it up, I haven’t really missed it at all.

Real debates and discussions are better had in person, where they’re less likely to veer into hyperbole and create personal drama. Twitter is a better platform for sharing funny pictures, videos and articles. Text messages and group chats are the best medium through which to maintain a connection with distant friends and family members, because they provide a more private space.

From a user point of view, Facebook isn’t really good at anything, except perhaps making it easy to stalk old high school crushes and your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend – though with most people getting wise to the importance of locking down one’s profile, even that’s getting harder. Facebook’s only real advantage is that it allows for all that communication and sharing to take place in one space. But it seems that for me, and a growing number of other Facebook users, the drawbacks (the privacy concerns, the sponsored ads, the drama) are starting to outweigh that small benefit.

Have you ever taken a break from Facebook? Why? Let me know in the comments. And as I said before, feel free to send me money.

Check out Part One of this series here.

Check out Part Three of this series here.