Why I Said Goodbye to Facebook

I remember creating my Facebook account. It was 2005 and I was in my last semester of college at NCSU. (I totally remember feeling like I was cheating on my My Space page when I joined. Didn’t we all?)

When it first came out, Facebook wouldn’t even let you create an account unless you had a college email address. It was different. Somewhat exclusive. And everyone was doing it.

Jumping on the wagon back then in my life never seemed like a hard thing to do. So this was just one more thing to jump into.

It’s crazy to think that was 14 years ago.

It’s crazy to think how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months of my life have been spent on Facebook.

Most of the time, I would post without scrolling. I was never much of a comment troll, and especially over the last two years, I would only post encouraging words and pics of my kids.

Much like many of us, during times of political change or when the media was trying to distract us with more bad news, my heart would literally break at all of the meanness, judgement, debating and downright ugly behavior from many of my “friends”.

I had over 1,500 of them. How did that happen? I’d often tell myself I was going to purge the list but never made the time.

I’d often hide the feeds of people on my friends list. People who complained too much, posted vulgarities and were unkind to others weren’t hard for me to remove from my feed. My heart couldn’t take it.

But the most painful part of Facebook for me, that led to my decision to leave, was the comparison trap. Almost without fail, each time I’d open the app, the first post I would see was another mama, sharing a moment with her kids. Or sharing a story about her life. While I’d often smile as I celebrated with them, I’d often end up thinking she was a better mom than me, or that her life seemed more put together than mine. I’d find myself judging them for only putting their best face on social media and wondered if what we were seeing was a true depiction of their life. I think this was easy to do because I know in my own life, it was always easier to post something good like a trip to the science center, rather than being vulnerable enough to share about the spanking I just gave my kid.

On the morning I made the decision to cut the proverbial cord with my 14-year friend Facebook, I was sitting in my car outside of my office. I’d been on a social media sabbatical for almost 30 days and had shared a new blog post the night before. I made the quick decision to log into FB to read any comments that had been posted (ridiculous, I know. But keep reading, God dealt with me in that area).

I opened my account and there it was. A post from a good friend sharing an experience she’d had with her daughter. As I read the post, I immediately became envious. Criticizing. Judgmental. It was as if I was having an out-of-body experience as I became aware of how I was feeling, and how quickly it happened. I threw down my phone and began to pray. Within seconds, I sensed the Holy Spirit show me exactly what I needed to do. “You’d better go ahead and delete Facebook, you don’t need that in your life.

I didn’t want to judge my friends. I didn’t want to be envious of their lives. I didn’t want to sell myself short as a human and a mother and an employee and a wife and a friend by comparing someone else’s life to my own.

I didn’t want to take the chance anymore of seeing someone else’s “best” when I was at my potential worst.

And further, God showed me how ridiculous it was to desire validation and an adrenaline rush through comments and reactions on social media. Your validation in this world doesn’t come from these people, Candice. It comes from ME.

Vulnerability is sort of my thing. I’ve never been one to wear a mask and inauthentic people in my life are a challenge to be around and an even bigger challenge to love well.

I hope you’ve never looked at my life through your phone screen and felt this way. I’m far from perfect. I can be difficult to love, too.

I hope you don’t spend your time making assumptions about people’s lives based on what they post to social media. There is always more to the story, and being able to connect with people in “real life” is far more gratifying. Making the choice to remove that possibility from my own life has been incredibly freeing.

While I do believe it can serve a purpose in some ways, social media has changed the way we enter relationships. It’s made us divisive, combative, entitled and righteous. It’s made it easy to put a fake foot forward and I wholeheartedly believe it’s contributing to the rising depression and anxiety in our culture.

Look around the next time you go out to a restaurant at how many heads are pointed downward looking at a phone screen. Notice how many families miss opportunities for real conversation at the sacrifice of scrolling. Listen to people around you as they boldly declare how well they know someone who or something because they “saw it on Facebook”.

When I told my husband about my decision, he was encouraging. He didn’t for one second discourage me. “Good for you, babe. I hope you start a revolution.”

Me too. I hope someone shares this post. I hope someone reads it and it quenches the curiosity and desire they’ve felt and they decide to cut the cord, too.

Life is short. It’s precious. It’s nearly but a vapor.

Don’t let your worth come from likes and comments. You’re worth so more than that. Trust me.

My 30 Day Social Media Experiment

For a good while, I’ve tried to embrace the love/hate relationship that I have developed with social media.

I love the way it connects us to people we aren’t physically close to, and I love how we can encourage and inspire others by sharing our stories and experiences. I love how it helps us find an apartment or a yoga studio or a good networking opportunity. I love the way we have a handheld way to chronicle our lives through photographs and paragraphs and share these memories with those who want to be a part of our journey through the screen and scroll.

Yet I hate the scroll. I hate the comparison trap. I hate the divisiveness. I hate the hatred.

We take our selfies when we’re at our best and post them for others to see when they are in potentially their worst. We showcase our new stuff and our big houses and our vacations and our family memories and our sporting events and our flowers and our jewelry and our cars and then press the home button to get back to real life.

We hop from one app to the other, scrolling for something new that gets our attention. What comment threads can we read? What assumptions can we make about people by reading their thoughts in a heated online argument (because even if you don’t think you will, you are.) and do we comment also?

I find myself taking photos of my kids, and thinking they must be posted right away (because I’ll forget, of course). And then I spend a few minutes thinking about the caption, and if it needs hashtags, and should I do only hashtags or a caption, too? Should I include their names in the hashtag?…

Then the little red numbers start popping up on the icon on my phone. Someone liked my picture. {smile and heart swell}. They commented. Do I comment back? Sometimes I try, but sometimes I just don’t want to. Is that rude? Oh, another comment – this is so flattering! People think my kids are just as amazing as I do.

Maybe I will just take the app off my phone and that way I can only see Facebook if I go to the website. And turn off the notifications so that there are no distracting red numbers in circles.

But what if I just don’t look at all. (Well, with the exception of monitoring business pages for my job once a day, which I will explain later…). But what if I just don’t Facebook at all, for 30 days. What would that look like?

Most of you probably don’t know this about me, but I am incredibly sensitive and feel things around me much differently than you most likely do. (If you are a “feeler” like me, lets chat because I am always looking to build my tribe with those who get it.) Through the lens of social media, I am able to discern in others: pain, joy, authenticity, rage, fear, dishonesty and thankfully, love. But it’s heavy. I’ve wondered what it would be like to just cut off social media altogether. But then, I discover a fantastic new restaurant to take my family to by a Facebook share. It’s tough, I know.

So, for me personally, I am ready to do something about it. I’m off Facebook–a test with a strategy coming alive as my fingers strike these keys. Here’s my plan:

  1. Starting right this minute and for the next thirty days, I will not use Facebook for personal reasons*. I have already deleted the app from my phone.
  2. Because my job requires me to monitor the digital presence of our apartment communities, I will view each business page once per day and will only be on Facebook for this purpose. (Don’t worry SPG, my duties will not slack by way of this experiment!)
  3. I will continue to take pictures of my kids and life as it happens, and at the end of the thirty days, I will share the good ones, sort of as the comic strip of our summer. I appreciate that many of you truly love seeing our photos – we’ve got family all over the country and watching our girls grow up online is a blessing that I am grateful for.
  4. In the time I’ve now gained in my day, I will spend it living more in the moment, and less in the story. I’m gonna time block specific times in my day to check Facebook for work, and to check email.
  5. I’m gonna spend my downtime filling out paperwork and reading books to finish my doula certification because God’s answered my prayer and that’s just what I’m supposed to do. Thinking back on those hours when I served those three different mamas, in three different stages of their journey, and the joy I truly felt deep into my core. I won’t ever forget the way that felt. And God will make a way for me to doula for mothers while working in my current role, too. I feel it in my bones.
  6. Lastly, anytime I take a picture of the girls and normally would have posted it to Facebook or IG, I’m going to email it to them instead. I set up email addresses for each of the girls when they were born and I honestly don’t send them stuff as much as I could. Instead of posting to FB or IG over the next 30, I can send them their own personal captions along with the video or pic. I imagine how cool it will be for Sadler to turn 14 and find out she has an email account full of emails from the last decade of her life. (I would have loved this!)..her own digital scrapbook from her mama’s perspective (and anyone else who emails her – that’s the beauty of it, her grandparents and daddy and cousins and family friends who have her email address can send her things, too.) This has been one of my biggest parenting wins and I’ve patted myself on the back a couple of times for setting it up, I just need a pat on the butt to keep it moving along! So hopefully this experiment will light a spark to send more emails to my little ladies.

I’m excited about this. I hope I’ve inspired someone to take a break, too.

Optimistic this downtime from social media will allow me to be more present. (I plan to disconnect from Instagram, too. I deleted it from my phone.) I hope this downtime will allow me to be more sensitive to God’s purpose for me. To center me and reset me and desensitize me from the junk of the world.

Expect a followup post about my journey through this experiment. Namaste, y’all.

*Sadler’s birthday is coming up very soon and we will use Facebook as our source of invitation. Friends and family that normally get those from us, look for that to come from Reid most likely 😉