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Towards mid-May, it being summer holidays for children when I was simply unable to handle my time, I pulled the plug on my FB profile. I deactivated it knowing that I will be back, later, when my life was more sorted. Why did I give so much importance to something that was completely within my control? Why was I spending so much time on Facebook anyway? And more importantly, why was it affecting my moods, my wellbeing?

So, first I pulled the plug and then I directed my attention to these uncomfortable questions. Uncomfortable because they were implying that well I wasn’t really as disciplined and organized as I considered myself to be and also that I was letting something which could be a real boon affect me negatively. So, I stayed off FB for two whole weeks. And the surprising part for me was that I didn’t miss it at all. There was no urge to log in and check what others were saying. And no urge to rant or extol something. One concern I had was about sharing my blog links. Will people read me without seeing my posts as reminders on their TL? Apparently, that was unfounded. I found the same readers reading me anyway. As a matter of fact, I could now devote more time to reading books and blogs. I completed 3 books in 2 weeks along with my usual work routine and children’s holidays. I liked that a lot. I had a mini travel trip which was so much fun because I was literally offline. Checking mails really does not count now :-). I observed more, connected more.

Some takeaways that I would love to share from my experiment:

  • It is not so difficult to stay away from FB if you have a full life and varied interests. Life is not boring. And living your every waking minute on FB is a sign of a problem somewhere.
  • The word addiction is never to be taken lightly. I get annoyed when people are always on the phone – Whatsapping, Facebooking or whatever else. It kills conversations and sometimes relationships. Since we are all adults, it is important for us to introspect and step back when we are crossing the line. I know I did. I will keep doing it in the future as well.
  • Never stay logged on always. Make it difficult for yourself to take a peek. So, I have disabled notifications on my smartphone. Hence I only go there, when I want to go there not because some random update pinged me. I also keep the wifi on my phone off most times. My chats are always off on FB. I respond to messages when I go online. In other words, I am taking the control of my actions in my own hands.
  • Keep strict time duration for your online activities. If you are a blogger, you must also be reading blogs apart from writing them. This takes quite a bit of time. If you are regular on twitter and FB, keep a time slot, say half an hour in the morning and the same in the evening. At other times, do not venture there. Slowly, you can make this a part of your routine.
  • Invest in writing better content than networking to be read. If you read and comment on others’ blogs and write reasonably well, you will have an audience. For me writing is something I enjoy. I wrote when I had no one reading or commenting and I write now when some people read me. It is important to stay on top of your priorities.
  • You will find your moods getting better. I did. No matter what we say, sometimes the conversations on FB may drain you, irritate you, frustrate you, anger you or even drive you into depression. It will all depend upon the state of mind that you are in. Multiple studies have shown that to be the case. It is highly unlikely that you are an exception. Hence, choose your friends on FB wisely and the groups you inhabit as well. There is a very handy unfollow button that I have personally found very useful. Use it to cut out noise and negativity.
  • People have moved on. I remember feeling majorly pleased when I first came on FB. I could reconnect with school friends, college friends, colleagues! People I hadn’t met for ages. After the initial euphoria died down, I have seen most of my friends having barely any presence on FB. Some have even deleted their profiles. Then came the experiment of adding bloggers – people I was reading and now could be connected with on a daily basis. But that honeymoon was short lived too. Though, I have made some really great friends among bloggers, there are yet others I have stopped reading simply because I find them annoying as people. In hindsight, it would have been better if our contact had stayed only via blogs. There is something called familiarity breeding contempt.
  • Your friends will always be in your life. FB is just a medium. There are other mediums like the good old phone calls and emails. And needless to say that I was in touch with all my good blogger friends despite not being there on FB.

Things that I sorely missed after deactivating my profile:

  1. I had to create new profiles on all the sites where I could not log into via FB anymore.
  2. I could not reply to comments on my blog via FB plugin.
  3. I could not manage my blog page as someone else was now the admin.
  4. I could not reach out to others who were not in my best friends list but whose interactions I tremendously enjoyed though some of them I was in touch with on twitter.
  5. I missed out on content from the multiple sites that I am subscribed to on FB but was not getting notifications from anymore.

To summarize, the issue is not with FB but with us individuals. We have always known it. As an adult, if you are happy spending all your time on FB, be my guest. For me, as I mentioned in one conversation, it is a very small part of my online life. And I hope to keep it firmly that way! After the detox I am back on FB and much more disciplined I must say.

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85 Thoughts on “When I went off Facebook

  1. Good tips,, FB is sure a lot of time to check things that you would have not even bothered a few years back. Actually it is not very difficult to be off Facebook if you have strong determination. I have myself been off Facebook many times. 🙂

    • True that, Prasad! I completely agree. I don’t feel any pull towards it now. I log in, spend maybe a few minutes and am out of it. There is hardly an urge to stick around to watch your TL swell. I am glad that I deactivated my profile and spent a lot of time thinking this over. I am so glad that you are managing FB optimally! Thanks for reading and sharing!

  2. I have tried this many times with success. Once when I was appearing for an exam and also when I was particularly irritated with a friend who was super active on facebook, just to avoid her.
    I follow many of those rules you mentioned. I find whatapp more time killing than facebook. Many of my friends are active whatsappians, the reason I switch off the wifi on my phone these days.
    For me FB is best for taking a break from work.
    Thanks for sharing the tips Rachna.

    • Luckily, Whatsapp for me is barely there. Like I said, the wifi on my phone is mostly off :). Preethi, just like you, I loginto FB when I am taking a break from work. Otherwise, I would be okay with not logging in at all. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. I have been off FB for 16 months now and I dont think I miss it or Anyone misses me .. I think we live in this dream .. what if .. what if .. as you see I came back to blogging after so long .. a few old friends are back .. so those are the ones who always mattered and meant when they said .. they are my friends the rest well what can i say 🙂

    but next time dont delete the acount .. just dont log into it so in case you need to .. you dont have to create all the profiles all over again 🙂

    actually going away also helps in knowing who really are friends or care for you .. I found out toooo 🙂

    all the best 🙂 with staying away .. I am sure there are far important things in life then FB ..

    I find it really funny when people say oh i cant live without fb or twitter .. offcourse they cant they dont know otherwise .. i find that sad…

    Bikram

    • Agree with you Bikram. No one feels our absence other than a handful of good friends. And Rachna, it makes sense to improve the content than to network.
      Earlier friends would share pictures and achievements on FB but now I see more and more users sharing their fears and sorrows. For a sensitive person like me, it gets pretty distracting. I can’t stop thinking about it.

      • Absolutely, Alka! I have never relied on promotion to get people to read. Like I mentioned above, I write because I enjoy writing. But yes, I know some people worry that they will slip in people’s memory if they are not seen every waking minute. It is a scary thought to be this insecure but yes people are.

        I can understand what you are feeling and saying. Too much negativity and sadness gets on to me too. And then the bitching and gossip! I just want all of that to go away at least from my conscious mind. Hence, this experiment worked out really well for me.

    • You are right, Bikram. We often live in a bubble thinking that everyone we interact is with is actually a friend. Yes, you have slipped back quite comfortably into blogging. Haven’t we all learned our lessons on blogging as well :-). You were missed by me being one of the rare voices of honesty on this medium. Nah, I didn’t delete just deactivated :-). Yes, going away also is a reality check as you pointed out.

      Thanks for the wishes. I think I am quite fine with regards to FB. About the last part of your post, I find it very sad as well. Really.

  4. I agree. The problem is not with FB, WhatsApp, etc., the problem is with individuals. Instead of using FB, WhatsApp, etc. as tools, people become their slaves.

  5. Rahul on June 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm said:

    Surely life goes on much better and more organized than to be dependent on FB! Thankfully this addiction never took better of me and had a respite in a three week recent break, Rachna!

  6. I don’t think I will ever go off FB anymore. Sometimes days go by without me logging in… or logging in for barely a few mins and then logging off. I dont use my phone for FB… at all. My notifications are off. I see them only when I log in through my laptop. I have never put on my chats… 😛

    Even when I am online, I check out FB rarely. Mostly I am reading online or learning a skill on youtube.

    As you said, there are other ways of keeping in touch with friends. Moreover, I don’t think friendships today can take the continuous wear and tear of the permanent presence. It’s almost like ‘I have my eye on you 24×7 where are you going’. Scary… 😀

    • I am glad you know how to optimally use the medium. I am online most of my working hours but like you that time is meant for researching or active writing or work-related stuff. I don’t have any social media on then. It is only when I take breaks or am free that I check on it.

      I absolutely agree, Dagny. Seriously, why do we have to stay in each other’s faces all the time? We really don’t have to know the details of a person’s every waking minute no matter how dear they are. It is actually creepy :D.

  7. I totally agree with you Rachna, having done same for FB in past every time I come back I am much more disciplined in my interactions, have dedicated slot to check updates and no more that out of curtsy likes because of sorted lists I have made and yes pages have to be updated because those connect us to people who want to interact.

  8. Bhavana Rao on June 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm said:

    Nice article Rachna.
    These days I too have made similar rules for myself. I am on face book for not more than 15 minutes everyday.
    I still kind of like facebook because I found like minded people through blogging world and also from extended connections. It is great feeling. I was so happy that I met you all in Bangalore.
    But as you say we just need to know where to draw the line.

    • Thanks, Bhavana! Yes, I have noticed. You are very disciplined on FB. I agree that the medium is not at fault as all of us have found lovely people through it. It is just that we ought to know how not to abuse it.

  9. Agree with you 100%.

    I am addicted to Facebook and Whatsapp. But, I keep both away when I’m doing something else or if I’m outside with friends or family.

    I have my away time from the internet everyday and I make it a point to stay away from games, FB, whatsapp for a good amount of time before logging back in.
    so, yes.. the away time is important and its good I’ve learnt to draw a line somewhere. its not ideal, but its ok for now 🙂

    • As long as you are conscious about it, Pixie, I think you will manage fine. Most times we just go with the flow and don’t even realize how much time we are wasting on it. Drawing the line is so important. I am glad you are happy in the space that you are in on FB :-).

  10. These are some good tips, Rachna to manage our time on FB or other social media. I am not on Twitter or other such things, only FB at the moment. But I try to keep my conversations time on FB limited, avoid mundane discussions, even avoid what seem like serious topics because I don’t think one can really get to any serious discussion on FB or social media. But yes “like” is what I generally do to support friends’ announcements, updates, pics etc…and of course my blog announcements etc. And being a bit old-fashioned it is only been a couple of weeks that I started using a smartphone with all such gimmicks etc…so still very new to all this “constant” connection. But I like your tips about turning off the notifications on phone…will surely do that before I burn out 🙂 A very good post!

    • Thanks, Beloo. Twitter for me is something that I may spend 10 minutes on in a day, sometimes not even logging in everyday. But I like twitter; it is my daily dose of humor and non-intrusive as compared to FB. You are right about hardly achieving anything even in serious discussions.

      Yes, keep your wifi off. Come to think of it, why do we even bother staying connected all the time? Koi train toh chhoot nahin jayegi :-). Sometimes we end up complicating our own lives and then curse the medium instead of the perpetrator. Thank you for reading and for your insightful comment.

  11. Looks like most of us have done it at least once. Last year, when I was seriously looking for a job and relocation, I was off FB for a month. I didn’t miss it at all. Except for one or two close friends, no one even noticed that I had been gone. If I had a new post to publish, I made my sis as the admin of my page and she used to post it. Even now, I deleted the app as it was distracting. I still open it in browser and waste some time…trying to cut it down..whatsap wasted a lot of time initially, but it too slowed down a lot. Overall, I am glad with my time spending on social websites. I am not on twitter. I read many blogs whenever I get time and I started book reading again and totally happy about it. 🙂

    • Yes, I remember that time when you had relocated and were missing. Isn’t that the time when you really know who misses you. I am so happy that you have sorted out things. We have to if we wish to keep our sanity in our already busy lives. Well done, Latha!

  12. Have turned off my chats too…deleted some ‘friends’…put many on the restricted list…trying to cut down on the time spent on FB…have to go off some time, only then will I be able to complete and edit my novel.

    • Yes, if you have a novel to complete, do take some time off else the distractions never go away. I think it is an experiment worth undertaking, Janu :). Whenever you do, we will be connected via our phones! Good luck with the novel.

  13. My addiction is Twitter. I rarely engage in discussions on Facebook. I enjoy reading a few updates and play a few rounds of Scrabble.

    But if platforms like these drain us with needless arguments and unprovoked negativity, they also inspire us to come with newer content. The problem is us, we just don’t know when to stop.

    • Exactly, the problem is us all along. I see another bad side to this as a parent. What do I expect my kids to imbibe if they see me stuck to my phone all the time? If we don’t spend time with people, wouldn’t we all become zombies? That drawing the line or striking the balance is where I see most adults faltering.

  14. I guess the answer is moderation. As long as you don’t let the medium run you, it is going to be ok. If you feel like it’s getting to be an addiction, quit cold turkey. It is not the end of the world!
    Intelligent post, Rachna.

    • Thank you. Agree with everything you say, Rickie. The whole problem is striking that delicate balance is often difficult. There is a lack of will power to pull the plug even if your life is crumbling. Social media is addictive and a huge drain on productivity as well.

  15. I have been off FB for almost an year now..and I dont miss it at all…life is simpler and easier especially since one is not looking at the unnecessary stuff people upload there…the only thing I miss is the lack of notification of good events happening round the city!

    • Absolutely agree, R’s mom! And we have such less time on our hands to fritter away. I can do so many better things with it like watch FIFA world cup matches these days :). I really admire how you handle your social media presence.

  16. As a practice I consciously stay away from getting sucked in by FB or even Twitter for that matter. You would have noticed that I stay away from constantly updating pictures or status updates… this is the primary reason, I feel after a point it becomes an addiction and an alter ego of sorts, you just cannot go without checking who said what and how many likes you go.
    My chat is always off and so are notifications. Only when I am online I check my messages. Also post 7PM, I am trying to stay away from the online world, instead I spend that time reading or doing other offline tasks which help me recharge.
    🙂

    • Seeta, I have always admired how you conduct yourself on social media. You stay away from all the usual suspects. It is so easy to get into the habit of constant chatting and updates etc. It is best to be aware and nip it in the bud!

  17. very we’ll analysed Rachna. When ever I log off even for a few days I feel a sense of liberation. The trick is to understand FB is simply a tool or a medium and not let it take over your life. Friendships may start off at FB but real friendships are those that survive even when there is no FB !

  18. you have explained it very well.. for me I log in hardly for 10 mins a day and mostly check on updates from few friends and family..
    But these days even I get depressed with all the show of happy holidays and parties.. but then like you said, the problem is elsewhere and I am trying to tackle that …

    • Thank you, Simple girl! I love your honesty in admitting that these things do affect your moods. Once we are conscious of this, we can take corrective action. I am sure you are already doing that.

  19. I went off FB too, for over a month. I found the showing-off getting to me. I quite enjoyed the hiatus. There was life without FB once, and I think we all got on quite fine 😀

    Do read my post on FaceBragging too !

    • Yes, the showing off is really putting off. I remember when you went offline. I am glad to know you enjoyed that time off. We all need to be more disciplined and then FB can become good timepass :). Sure will read your post.

  20. बहुत खूब रचना जी.
    ठीक कहा आपने लोग पूरा पूरा दिन सोशल मिडिया पर बिता देते हैं और उन्हें पता भी नहीं चलता .
    इससे छुटकारा पाने में योग भी आपकी help कर सकता हैं.

  21. What about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE? 🙂 I rely on either FB or Indiblogger to keep me updated on posts from bloggers I follow.

    Being unsmart, I have not needed to take drastic steps. When I switch off the PC/Laptop I am offline. And I control when I switch it off and on 🙂

    • haha Suresh! I am there on Indiblogger. It is not intrusive at all. I never participate in any forum discussions. That part about controlling when you are on and off is exactly what I was implying. You seem to be doing well there. Besides, our life situations and time commitments are so much more different hence I need to be more in control :).

  22. One must.You did the right thing by experiencing a break.Social media is nothing but addiction.

  23. So true Rachna. In my case, my little one just doesn’t allow me any extra time on FB other than what I just HAVE to do 🙂 But brilliant article! And smart move 🙂

  24. Wow! Just a day after I have decided about taking a break and switched off all notifications, I get to read this. Brilliant post and very important points out there. I did manage to go through all the comments too. And I must say FB is actually addictive and drains your time and energy. Glad that I have taken the decision to go off too. Not yet sure if I would like to be back ever. Till then, will be connected with you over the blog. 🙂

    • I must laud you for taking that step, Rekha! I am glad that more and more of us are finally waking up to the craziness of social media. I find it strange when people say that they are addicted to one medium or another without batting an eyelid. Shouldn’t adults do better than that? I wish you luck with this detox. Back or not, we will be in touch at the blogs :). I am myself hardly logging into FB these days. Frankly am bored of it :D.

  25. I am fine without facebook. Its the whatsapp that is taking my time.
    But I am impressed you did it!!!

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  27. Frankly i am not a fan of facebook–maybe because i do not have any old friends on it.But i visit it sometimes.

  28. I used to love it but then those friends are no longer there. So, I guess I am finding it boring these days.

  29. I agree with you. I realized one does not benefit from social media unless one has a clear strategy which I clearly do not. So I am also trying to slowly withdraw from social media as much as I can without totally destorying the small traffic stream I get for my blog from there.

    • I don’t have any strategy either. I am on FB mostly to interact with the people I like. I think you are not really spending much time there. And yes, sharing your links when you post you can do without spending too much time on it.

  30. A successful experiment!! I also never access FB on my phone, so that it becomes restricted to when I’m using the desktop. I still have to discipline myself – two time slots in the morning and evening sound good, should try them out!

    • It works. Try it. You may peep in sometimes if you are sure that your break does not go beyond 10 minutes. Basically something that one has to work out for themselves :).

  31. Team BlogAdda on June 30, 2014 at 11:03 am said:

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  32. “The issue is not with FB but with us individuals” you’ve said it all with this one line, Rachna! Your post drives home a very relevant point. I’m a huge fan of FB, despites its annoying apps, ads and games :). Its through this medium that I have been able to connect with long lost friends from school and my growing up years. And this is also a medium where I stay in touch with my family, extended and close alike. So this medium has really worked for me. But of course, it has its downside. And addiction is one of them. I perfectly get what you mean. Addiction of any sorts is not good. The way I look at it, however, is that we are affected by or addicted to something, be it a drink, a habit, a vice, whatever for only as long as we let ourselves get affected or addicted. If we know how to restrict ourselves, then I think we can take home something good out of any medium or indulgence we choose. When I feel that being on FB or whatsapp is getting too much to handle for me, I simply log out or switch off! Guess we just find our own ways to deal with it, hai na? At the end of the day, the basic need or most of us is to keep our sanity intact 😉 🙂

  33. Rachna I read this post five days back when I consciously made a decision that I would drastically reduce my FB time. I knew in my case de-activating wouldn’t work , because again on re-activating, I would get into hyper FB mode, which loosely translates as less work, less writing and less of anything productive.

    And whenever my will staggers, I come back to read this post. Thanks a ton Rachna 🙂

  34. Liked your experiment and observations and the takeaways. It is very important to have a discipline when on FB and Twitter. They are real time suckers. I have restricted my time on FB too, though have not banished it completely. But yes, even this restricted time has resulted in better productivity.

    • Yes, Shilpa! Only use these social media platforms within the parameters of discipline. We should not let them run away with our lives. Thanks for reading!

  35. People have moved on indeed, and thanks God for that! Because as great as FB can be, it’s also damaging and often taping into our vices. First we used our own words for FB updates, then we posted pictures, and now it’s quotes and videos – is that what we have to say to each other, really? that’s like passing a newspaper article to someone else to read. Well, I’m on FB to communicate with you – not to read what someone else already said. For that one I’s go to the library! The confidence that we can multi-task, i.e work and FB, hanging with a friend AND checking FB on our smartphone…Fail! I found my thoughts segmenting to the point that I felt angry and going crazy for not being able to follow neighter the real-life conversation, neiter to remember what the FB wall was showing. So…FB is only checked once in the morning, once during work hours and once in the evening. And with time FB has less and less to offer, to me anyway. The two worst features are the constant updates to rules and regulations, and the side bar!!! The side bar is like a bright-light-flashing-Time Square-type-board screaming ‘Read me!Read me! Read me!’ And I did for a while until I realized how my adrenalin level jumps up and down depending on what I read…and I’d gradually get moody in a bad way! F*** that!!! My chat is now always off, and the side bar is hidden. And trust me, as soon as I find alternative to FB, I’ll be out of there. As it is the case with you, Rachna, my recent road trip in Europe, with less internet availability, and surrounded by the right people, was the first time in a long while when I lived 100% in the ‘now’ and in the ‘here’. What a bliss! GO AWAY, FB!!!

    • It is always a pleasure to have you read and comment. It adds to my perspective. I cannot agree more with you. My side bar is also hidden :). I do share quotes and especially funny ones depending upon my mood. In a way that is a reiteration of what I am feeling at that moment. But yes, I do miss interactions with friends. Glad you are claiming your space and sanity. More and more we are all becoming impersonal on FB and just going there out of habit. In the not-so-far future, I also see myself blinking it out forever.

  36. Timely post. I have been going through Facebook fatigue too. And I feel guilty of not keeping up with friends.

  37. Thanks for the tips

    FB takes lots of my valuable time.
    Now I deactivate my main FB account
    Currently I am using skype to connect with my friends 🙂

  38. My best friend recently met an old classmate who is not on FB. And surprisingly, she must be the only girl who is in touch with most of our batchmates. She meets them in person, calls them up, is present at every wedding or event. Somewhere Fb is not a platform to connect but to peek into someone else’s life without having any warmth for them. FB is fine as long as we are not obsessed with it and logged in, day in and day out.

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  41. The 3 odd weeks that I went offline (almost), I was surprised at myself! I just didn’t miss it; similar to your experience, I had other stuff to do and I actually considering doing this on a regular basis. Especially since it’s now summer holidays over here, there are so many fun activities to indulge in instead of just sitting with my laptop or phone in the evenings!
    I see what you mean about it being inconvenient to deactivate your profile. I didn’t do that; I just didn’t log in, so I was still able to use Facebook user ID for other stuff.

    • That is the place where I’d like to reach. Not login. A couple of weeks back I deactivated my profile for one week. These days I don’t feel the urge to log in. I am not very active on FB. I guess the process of weaning off is ongoing.

  42. I was away from FB for 2 years until recently when I joined back. Your first observation is right. You don’t miss it for 2 weeks or 2 years. It is the other things that give a hard time like sharing blog links with a larger audience.

    So I have decided this time when I joined FB, I will be more passive than active and use it as a social media and not a virtual life platform. When we give things the respect they actually deserve, everything else falls into place automatically.

    • I love what you’ve written. Use it as a social media platform and not a virtual life platform. I was browsing through my FB profile and realized that I have done something similar. No more sharing of vacation pics or random family pics on FB. No more regular rants/daily updates. I mostly share the links of my posts or articles that I found useful. I also don’t spend much time lingering on the TL. When I login if I see something interesting I comment. And I stay away from contentious discussions. The learning curve has been good. Thanks for reading, Keirthana.

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