I Quit Facebook 🚫📱 {why, how, & how it changed me}

The past several months have been a tumultuous roller-coaster ride in several facets.

Our family’s schedule has been all over the place, either completely crazy or absolute stillness: no in-between. I’m working on finding balance there.

My health has been a wreck, with the onset of calcaneal spurring and plantar fasciitis, which is a fancy way of saying I could barely walk for 6 weeks. I’m finally coming out of that.

Lastly, and this is the hardest one to admit… my doctor said I had a small bout of depression.

I had broken down in his office because I was so frustrated with life right now. My health problems were bad and getting worse. I felt overwhelmed with the kids and church duties. My husband was (is) completely stretched thin, as he works hard to finish his final semester of seminary, work at a church, and plant another church, all simultaneously. And also, I had been hurt very badly on an emotional level by three “friends”.  The doctor prescribed me some anti-depressants, and I walked out of the office in a daze.

Was I really going to go there? Did I need medication? 

In the end, I took them for 3 days, but never quite felt right about it. I consulted a pharmacist friend who told me I could stop taking them without adverse effects at that point, so I stopped.

Instead, I quit Facebook.

You see, I don’t think I was depressed at all. I think I was just desperately seeking connection and looking in all the wrong places. I would check Facebook ridiculously often… an embarrassing amount… I’m talking like 5-10 times an hour… Every time I felt lonely, frustrated, or upset in any way, I would tune in to the little blue app that offered the promise of “friends” and “likes”. I was self-medicating with social media, and failing miserably. During one of my reading/prayer/Bible study sessions, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me. “Walk away from it,” he coaxed. “You won’t find the answers there.” 

So I quit cold turkey, with no preparation or ‘letting people know’.  When deactivating my account, I was given the option to retain the use of Messenger, so I did that — to give people a way to contact me for those who did not have my phone/email info. I left my account totally off for about two weeks’ time. It was in that two weeks that I spent a lot of time with God, figuring out what He wanted me to do with my time.

I rested. I prayed. I recalibrated. I spent time with Godly friends. I read an amazing book that has helped me immensely. I started writing that novel that I’ve been tossing around in my mind for half a decade. I prayed some more. 

During my two weeks of detox, I came to some life-changing conclusions.

I was trying to make connections with people, so I was pouring myself into a thousand other people’s cups at once. Each person was only getting a few drops. Instead, I needed to select a few cups and really fill them up. My life was full of empty relationships because I didn’t have time to really invest in so many people. 50 years ago, you wouldn’t know details about a person’s life unless you heard it directly from them. Hearing about a friend’s vacation, how their garden is growing, or the struggles of parenting their tween are the sort of things that you would only share across a kitchen table (or perhaps through a personal letter). Today, all of that is basically public knowledge. felt close to people because of the way that social media gives you a peek into people’s lives on a personal level. But the truth is that I didn’t really know them very well. I just knew what they were doing, not who they were.

One thing that I really missed out on during my two-week detox, however, was the Facebook Groups feature. I was in about 70 groups, ranging from homeschool support groups to health groups to local yard sale groups, and dozens more. But I had a few very important, core groups that I really felt I needed to be a part of: our local homeschool co-op, where we plan each week’s meeting and curriculum; my prayer circle, a group of close friends where I can really be open; my Bible study group, another group of great Christian women who meet every Thursday, and a few others.

So I started focusing my prayers on how to get that feature without all the other stuff. God and I came up with this solution: I reactivated my Facebook account, and started deleting. I removed every friend, every page I ‘like’, and every group with the exception of the 6 that I thought were vital. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and downloaded the Facebook Groups app instead. I never check newsfeed, and I try to be mindful about checking the groups too often. I don’t want to slip back into the habit of checking because I’m lonely, instead of checking because I really need the information.

In the (almost) month since quitting Facebook, I can tell a huge difference in the way I’m looking at the world. I am less stressed. I have more free time. My phone battery lasts almost 3 days now! I have more attention to give my family. I can rest in the knowledge that I have a few deep friendships instead of 600 surface-level acquaintances. The few friends who have chosen to stay in touch have done so via messenger (or text), because they truly care and value our friendship.

It was only a month ago, but I look back at that woman who was crying in the doctor’s office and it feels like I’m a million miles away. One simple change (in mindset and behavior) has completely shifted my trajectory. An estimated 55 million Americans are on anti-depressants. I know many of those have real mental health issues to overcome and genuinely need medication, but how many are simply lost, looking for real-life connection in a world that only connects digitally?

For many, this might be the answer.  It was for me.

5 thoughts on “I Quit Facebook 🚫📱 {why, how, & how it changed me}

  1. Dana Guinn Gibson says:

    I am amazed at your courage and strength. I enjoyed reading your posts and the pics of your family trips, etc. Enjoy your new found peace and if you ever decide to jump in the pool again, please friend me.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I read it to my pre-teen daughter and shared it on facebook 🙂 . What you went through is what millions of people (girls in particular) go through every day. I don’t think many people have a clue how much social media is negatively affecting them. They live for the notification that someone reacted to something they posted. I believe that hearing your story could be the start of the healing process for a lot of people.

  3. Lisa says:

    Thank you for your authenticity. I am sure that wasn’t easy to write. I have been thinking of deleting mine just because of how much time I waste on it and that it takes away from my time with Christ and my family. You have given me courage and good reason to do so. Thank you!

  4. Jenny says:

    Yes! I totally agree and saw that in myself as well. Having strict boundaries is important for me. Social media just can’t fill the very real need for social connection that happens in person or on the phone.

  5. Emma says:

    I did this same exact thing almost 2 years ago in August! I completely deleted my account but I really needed to be able to keep up with our homeschool co-op group through FB. So I reopened an account only for a few groups that I really need and don’t accept any friend requests. I did this in January of this year after being off FB completely for over 1 year. It’s been so freeing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *