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I Quit Facebook for a Month and This Is What Happened

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Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

Facebook Fried

There’s a good chance that you have had your fill of Facebook, the social media platform created by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 to help his fellow students at Harvard connect with one another. Of course, we all know the platform has changed plenty since then, adding features, targeted ads, and a lot of users — though that might be changing. According to research company Statista, 45% of users considered leaving Facebook in the third quarter of 2020, and almost 2 million users per day were actually leaving. I joined the opt-out crowd and quit Facebook cold-turkey for a month. This is what I learned.

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Profile page on social media or online portal. Man reading feed, status update or post with mobile phone. Follow, like or send friend request.
Tero Vesalainen/istockphoto

Why I Took a Facebook Vacation

Admittedly, my Facebook vacation had been in the works for a while before I closed the tab on my laptop. After slogging through what felt like an onslaught of political memes and angry screeds from both sides, I had already started thinning my friends list, and I didn’t post often — but I still scrolled through my feed on an almost nightly basis. I never cared much for Instagram and found Twitter to be a home for angry hot takes, so closing Facebook meant I was largely shutting down social media (with the exception of some occasional TikTok recipes). Granted, I was curious about what my IRL friends were up to. But when I started to feel that I was seeing more ads and memes than cute baby pictures, I decided it was time to take a break, at least for a while. 

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I Slept Better

I had followed many of the tips suggested to help you sleep, including black-out curtains and even blue-light filtering glasses, but I still had one, sleep-robbing vice — scrolling through my Facebook feed before bedtime. While the change wasn’t immediate (I’m sure I kept myself awake wondering what I was missing), after a week or two I found myself drifting off to sleep sooner than I had been, and with less tossing and turning, too.

Related: 12 Benefits of Banning Electronics from the Bedroom

Beautiful Eurasian Woman Spending Time With Her Dog Outside
Fly View Productions/istockphoto

I Wasn’t as Stressed Out

Granted, the political climate, global warming, and a pandemic do not make for a relaxed state of mind. But turning to social media for support wasn’t the answer, either. Generic memes offering encouragement did nothing to take my mind off of current events, and plenty of people I knew posted about world problems or their own concerns, which only added to my list of worries. By eliminating doom scrolling, I felt better about life in general almost immediately. I also got a subscription to the e-version of the New York Times, so I didn’t worry about losing touch, either.

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Facebook app

I Didn’t Feel Spied On

There has been a bevvy of reports about how Facebook quietly sells access to you to companies hoping to sell you stuff, which has made the website and its stockholders very, very wealthy. Last year, the company brought in $86 billion, up from over $70 billion the year before. While I’ve taken the steps outlined in Consumer Reports to make my information less accessible to the company, not going onto the site at all was a good first step to feeling like the site was taking advantage of my eagerness to watch cat videos.

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Birthday cake with happy birthday banner

I Completely Forgot Birthdays

I realized pretty quickly that I had come to rely on Facebook to remind me when a friend’s birthday was around the corner. But I also realized that using the app to offer a bland “Happy birthday!” wasn’t all that special anyway. I’ve managed to add the birthdays of close friends to my phone and calendar, and have taken the time to call people to wish them well. The results have been far more satisfying.

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I Signed Up for More Newsletters

One thing I did notice was that I no longer received updates from people and companies I followed on Facebook, which may have reduced the amount of sales messaging I had to sift through but also silenced some voices I missed. It turned out that the solution was an easy one — most offered weekly newsletters and signing up was as easy as visiting a website.

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The Pandemic Changed Nothing

When life as we knew it became locked down, I realized I may need to drop into social media (and specifically Facebook) just to check on my friends as well as local COVID-19 levels. While a few people I knew did get COVID-19, they recovered fully (thankfully) and I didn’t learn much about local virus trends. Despite my belief that Facebook would be a needed point of connection, I still felt I read more ads and slogged through too many reposted memes instead of finding actual information. It wasn’t worth it.

Related: 18 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Our Lives in 2020

Women holding and looking at her godson at hospital
FG Trade/istockphoto

I Had Some Regrets..

Unfortunately, I didn’t see what some of my friends were up to while I was gone. I didn’t see pictures of their kids, their vacations, or their latest jobs. I’m sure I missed good story ideas and sources, too.

Hispanic woman at home working on a computer.

… But Then Again, Too Few to Mention

Before leaving Facebook, I left a post inviting people to contact me via email and to let them know I probably wouldn’t be checking my Facebook account. Thanks to the pandemic, that didn’t result in a flurry of IRL plans, but I did end up reconnecting (via email) with friends I hadn’t spoken with in months. More importantly, no one blamed me for ditching Facebook, and several mentioned they were thinking about doing the same.

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Will I Delete or Keep Facebook?

While I am reluctant to delete my account entirely, as I still have photos and messages I’d like to keep, my Facebook diet has largely stuck. Occasionally (once or twice a month, on average), I’ll open the site to see if there has been big news from a friend worth noting, but never stay more than 20 minutes — a big change from my nightly hour-long check-ins. I’m happy to say I don’t miss it, and I’m not sure what Facebook would have to do to lure me back. Maybe more cat videos ...