One Year Facebook Sober

An iphone on a table next to a capuccino

I have never tried Dry January. I’m not particularly motivated to give up wine, and consider it positively bonkers to do so during the bleakest month of the year. But last New Year, I did decide to stop using Facebook for four weeks. One month turned in to twelve, and I am now one year sober. So as January rolls around again, it seems like a good time to reflect on why I decided to quit in the first place. And on whether should I get over myself and start scrolling again?

Facebook friends

I hadn’t been getting along with Facebook for a while, we did not have a healthy relationship. While I would constantly check my feed during the day, I rarely posted any of my own content. I’d become cynical and judgy about other people’s posts, and may have decided I was a bit above the whole thing.  

This malaise had been bubbling along for some time, but something about last Christmas seemed to push me over the edge. I felt overwhelmed by images of everyone celebrating their better Christmas’s, with happier families, cooler friends, sunnier holidays, and more stylish New Years. It was making me feel…sad. So on New Year’s Day I decided to take a few weeks off.

An iphone pictured with the social media folder open on screen

A didn’t delete the Facebook App when I flounced away

I didn’t make an official announcement about my departure (correctly calculating that no one could care less). I just decided to break the compulsion to click on that little ‘F’ icon every hour or two. Once I’d kicked the habit, I found no real reason to go back. It would have seemed like quitting. There is also a lifetime’s worth of pictures to keep me amused over on Instagram.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Why do I find Facebook harder to swallow than other forms of social media?

I always tell myself it is because I like pictures, and you can find better pictures elsewhere on the internet. But that doesn’t explain why it was winding me up so much.

Is it maybe because you tend to know your Facebook friends in real life (as compared to all of the stranger love on Instagram)? Does that make us more sensitive to the gap between a status update, and reality?

Words. It’s much easier for people to get my hackles up with a sentence than a picture, and the words are more front and centre on this platform. And politics. Not on my social media, thanks.

I’m going to indulge in a tiny bit of algorithm-bashing while we are at it. Facebook just seemed to be putting the same people in front of me all the time. In some cases, I knew what they were having for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Others seemed to have dropped off my feed entirely.

Importantly and undeniably, it was also my own problem. With one thing or another, I wasn’t entirely happy in myself at the time. So I think that I was struggling to enjoy what others were getting up to and sharing in their lives.

Read how coaching changed the negative record playing in my head.

Am I missing out?

Person sitting on a couch with their feet up checking Facebook

Don’t expect me to remember or acknowledge your birthday anymore. It turns out the fact that Facebook reminds you about people’s birthdays, and their children’s birthdays, is massively helpful.

Or sponsor you. I also didn’t realise a mate was doing a fundraising walk with her kids, that didn’t feel good.  I’m sure there are dozens of other births, proposals, marriages, promotions and achievements that have passed me by.

Another great thing about Facebook it that it’s the closest thing I have to an organised photo album for the past decade. Now the album has a 12 month gaping hole in it.

So is it time to go back?

After this period of rest and recuperation, is it time to re-join the other two billion humans using Facebook to connect and share what they find interesting?

Generally, I am much less cynical about social media than I was a year ago. I have found it rewarding and interesting to fully engage with Instagram, so am curious to find out how that approach might work for me on Facebook.

Woman pictured using Ipad, close up on hands and screen

Would Facebook be good for business?

I would love to turn my blog in to a small business one day, so perhaps I should be considering a business page to compliment what I am doing? Or joining bloggers groups? Or is this just another time consuming rabbit hole to get lost down?

I went back on to my account before I wrote this post, and the two sides of my dilemma were perfectly illustrated before my eyes. First, some happy pictures of a good friend’s holiday. Brilliant. Then, an annoying attention-seeky status update, and a load of adverts. Gah.

Do you think I should give it another go? I would love to know everyone else’s feelings about social media at the moment. Which platforms work for you?

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26 comments on “One Year Facebook Sober

  1. Caroline on

    I prefer Insta now. I barely recognise Facebook and struggle with my own page!

    I rarely check it, but do forward the odd ‘useful’ article or piece of local info ?

    Summary, #rabbithole

    Reply
  2. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Hey Caroline, yes although I feel I ought to give it another go, seriously, where are the hours extra in the day? Don’t want to be a Facebook snob though. Perhaps I should have a little weekly log-in for the best bits?? Thanks for reading. Hx

    Reply
  3. Sue Calver on

    I totally understand why you mean about FB, it annoys me far more than Instagram ever does.
    I can be stricken from time to time with Insta envy (mostly over bags and shoes!), I generally I find it far more rewarding, creative and fun.

    Who wants to see 97 photos of an ex work colleagues summer holiday, endless ads, drunken nights out or political rants?
    I still go on fb probably once a day for 5 mins but I am considering weaning myself off more and try once a week or even less if I can!
    How did you manage to stick to your resolution for a whole year?
    Tips appreciated!

    Sue

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hi Sue, well, once I had done the first month or so I think I had pretty much broken the habit, and I was feeling better for it. Liberated! However, there is no doubt stuff I have missed out on, and like you I wonder whether a compromise position is to log on once a week for the best bits? I’m always going to be more of an Instagram person, much less aggravating, although not everyone agrees. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, it makes my day! Helen x

      Reply
  4. Melissa Jolly on

    I am so with you on every point here. I was browsing Facebook regularly but not posting and found it was irritating me. I really like Instagram but am not grabbed by Twitter..I was trying to explain this to a friend who has no social media experiences and I think they thought I sounded a bit bonkers. I love the beautiful photographs on Instagram, but a lot of the ‘beautiful’ photos on Facebook just annoyed me. Interesting to hear others have similar views. X

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hi Melissa, I love beautiful pictures too. There are some great artists and photographers to follow on Instagram, and you just don’t get that on Facebook. I love your gorgeous photos of the South Oxfordshire countryside! I think now that I’ve had a break, I could drop back in to Facebook now and then, for the best bits. But I’m firmly an Instagram person too. Thanks so much for stopping by for a read. Helen xxx

      Reply
  5. Helen on

    I so need to do this. Facebook became the last thing I saw at night and the first thing I saw in the morning – how sad is that? I have recently broken the morning habit just because I am trying to get out of bed as soon as I wake up, but I also need to leave it alone at night too. Two days ago I dug out my kindle and downloaded a new book – when I have those ‘gentle boredom, pull out my phone’ moments I am going to grab the kindle and read instead!!
    I will never ditch FB – my family and friends are spread far and wide and it allows us to be a regular part of each other’s lives – but I need to look at it far far less……

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Helen, you would be sorely missed from Facebook and can’t ever leave!! You are so right, I’m positive staring at your phone is not a good way to start the day. I’ve just switched that habit from FB to Instagram. I need to leave my phone physically in another room if I really need to concentrate. Let me know if you read any good books 😉 H xxxxx

      Reply
  6. Juliana on

    Oooh this is a very interesting one! I have a FB account and an IG account and since I started using IG about a year ago I have found that I have gradually and naturally used FB less and less. I found FB very useful when we first moved away from the UK – it was great to keep in touch with friends initially but the saying “familiarity breeds contempt” seems to ring true on FB more than any other social media platform. For me the problem has been the feeling of being force fed information about the lives of friends and family and even dare I say exaggerated by a rare few! But interestingly, there seems to be a higher tolerance for “staged” photos on IG amongst people we don’t even know or have never even met! Hence the “familiarity breeds” statement. Secondly, and this has been a major frustration for me, when I log into FB I have to fight through several ads before I actually find a friend and then when I do find my said friend they’ve only logged into FB to plug a link to another ad/political campaign! Maybe it’s just me but when I see friends irl I very rarely tell them as an opener “vote for this”! I think that the personal touch has somehow got lost on FB which conversely is what IG seems to do so well. Having said that, FB is definitely a lifesaver as you say for birthdays/anniversaries etc and because I have a closed group of friends I am also more comfortable to post pics of my kids amongst people that I know rather than everyone on Insta (my IG account is public by choice) so I still use it, but now it’s a once or twice a week check-in just in case someone that I know should actually post a pic of grandma’s birthday or a new addition to the family. So perhaps the answer to FB is exactly what you’ve done – “absence makes the heart grow fonder”!! 😉

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hey Juliana, thanks for stopping by ;). I find the political content on Facebook particularly unwelcome. You are 100% right, I rarely discuss this with my friends in real life….so why would I want to see it when I glance at my phone during a coffee break? However, lots of people obviously enjoy those kind of connections, and I don’t mind people putting an interesting article my way. I have some close friends in Australia, and before the advent of Facebook I wouldn’t have had a clue what they were up to from one month to the next, so it is wonderful for that, which I’m sure you find too. Also, the birthdays! Maybe I just need a birthday reminder app!!! Until next time, Hxxxx

      Reply
  7. Miriam - londonkitchendiaries.com on

    Very interesting to read your take on Facebook, somehow it is my least favourite social media outlet. I never knew exactly why but now reading through your post it is a lot clearer to me. Maybe just a Facebook page is a good idea for you, there is no reason to spend time with something you don’t enjoy.

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hey Miriam, I hope you are well. I’d be interested to know whether you use Facebook for blogging purposes? Either to promote your posts, or to network with other bloggers? It seems many people have a tricky relationship with FB, it is just about engaging with what works for you. Hxx

      Reply
  8. Debbie on

    Great article Helen. It got me thinking about how I use social media as well. Whilst I am not anti-Facebook, I see the annoying parts everyone mentions…. But I am on there for the good – not just the reasons you discussed, but for me there is a large section of family and friends that I don’t get the opportunity to see much, but feel more engaged with because you see them on Facebook. There are also the charity fundraisers friends are participating in, and events that people are interested in that you may not have known about otherwise. And Caversham Gossip Girls for recommendations and even traffic updates locally!

    I also sometimes find Instagram a bit too ‘instragrammy’ – there are lots of people posting perfect pictures, and not as much of the real stuff. That said, those perfect pictures are very lovely to look at as well!

    Then there is also Twitter. I took a while to join the twitter-generation, and thought I would use it as a news/work information type platform. But that has since changed. Twitter is now my go-to place if I need something to make me smile. There are some very funny people on there, and I sometimes can’t help but laugh out loud at some of the content (ideally not when I am in a busy office).

    I think they all have a place, you just need to work out how to use them that works best for you. And if there is no benefit, then drop it!

    (sorry for the long response!)

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Thank you for the long response Debs! I love the fact that you mentioned traffic reports….actually quite a few people have said how helpful FB can be for local info. A bit like it has replaced local radio or newspapers as a source of information? Instagram definitely can’t offer that. I think that you use social media in a really healthy way. I’m always super happy to see pictures of you and the boys. Sorry I missed out sponsoring your walk 🙁 Much love, Hx

      Reply
  9. Scarlett Roitman on

    Hi Helen,
    I’m a bit of a mongrel – French, American, Uruguayan with a now British passport. My family and childhood friends, all from international schools, are scattered across the world. So I rely on Facebook to keep me in-touch with what they’re up all up to.
    Funnily enough, I was thinking how terrible the Facebook interface has become in the last few week and tried to disable the crap coming into my feed. The adjustments didn’t work. And then, bang, this morning’s news had Facebook promising to do more to improve customer feeds. Because it’s all about ads now, and videos, videos, videos. I can’t stand it anymore. I have to sift through so much junk just to see any posts from friends and family.
    So, I will definitely be spending less time on Facebook until they get their s*** sorted.

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hi Scarlett, your comment is very timely, FB are obviously listening to user feedback! Facebook is a remarkable thing really. If I needed to, I could find practically anyone from my past on there. And yes, I have friends in far flung places (Australia in particular) whom I would rarely be able to check in with without social media. We have lots to be thankful for. First world problems as they say 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hx

      Reply
  10. Penny on

    I have a love-hate relationship with FB. I don’t check it as much, I think Instagram has taken over. I don’t like how people live their lives out on facebook but I guess it’s up to them. I find some people create and pull others into their dramas. I’m clearly hypocritical as I haven’t left. I’m just too nosey!

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hi Penny, it is lovely to see you here again 🙂 Some people really seem to like and sharing their lives on Facebook, I’ve just never really been able to relax and fully join in. My loss perhaps? There are enough social media platforms now I think we can all find the one that fits best for us. I’m definitely partial to a good bit of nosiness now and again too. Hope you are well, Hxx

      Reply
  11. Samantha Nagtegaal on

    Totally know where you’re coming from Helen, and I wish I could drop it too. Unfortunately a few things I’m involved with have secret grouos on facebook, for example, a charity I am a trustee of (it’s nothing fancy, but an awesome community charity who were involved in saving the local library. We are now trying to turn the building into a café/community space for courses/training etc, and I’m obviously involved from the café perspective!) We have a secret group which is essential to the organisation of meetings, and communication in between times. Checking the group inevitably means one accidentally spends ten lost minutes scrolling down ones feed looking at rubbish, then suddenly feeling great frustration at oneself!
    However… I will now sound like a massive hypocrite as I have a Facebook page for my website, Cooking for Sanity, and it’s quite a big part of my getting my message across. I find I get engagement mostly from.my own friends who follow it, but nonetheless, they are friends who are genuinely interested. I do get interaction from people who have just followed because they like the page too, which is always rewarding. A good way to pick up Facebook for you, in terms of having a business page, would be to use your Instagram content on your page status updates, so you aren’t having to devise whole new posts. Often, the people who view your Facebook page will be people who know you (to start with anyway) which will give a new dimension from the physically unknown Instagram followers. You can post links to blog posts using your saved Insta photos, and links to your blog, or say a bit more about anything else relevant to what you have to say.
    I hope that helps ?
    Love Sam xxx

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hey Sam, thanks for your comment it’s given me food for thought 🙂 I really hope I haven’t given the impression of being totally anti-Facebook, that wasn’t my intention. I think I definitely need to get back on there for the blog. I think I just need to be less emotionally invested, and see it as a really useful tool, which of course it is. Really interesting what you say about bringing another dimension that’s slightly more grounded in reality, perhaps Instagram can be a strangely ‘unreal’ place at times….? Lots of love, Hxx

      Reply
  12. Lou on

    Hi Helen,
    Really like your blog, lots of relevant articles and interesting info – kind of Mumsnet without it being all about stuff to do with children! Am replying to this post about Facebook as it particularly resonated with me. I have never been on Facebook and never intend to! I can see how it is useful to keep people updated about events and photos, but I think it is incredibly impersonal – what’s wrong with sending a group email with a photo attached?
    Another question is how many different apps is it reasonable to keep up with whilst you’re actually getting on with life – texts, emails and WhatsApp is my limit. Etiquette guidance should also be given for each app, for example do NOT set up a WhatsApp group and add someone without asking them first…..currently a major bugbear!

    Reply
    • @not_about_the_kids2017 on

      Hi Lou, thank you so much for stopping by for a read, how nice to see your comments pop up 🙂 I’m glad that you have found something worth reading. I’m really interested in your idea of an etiquette guide…I may try and write one myself. It’s a minefield!! Helen x

      Reply
  13. Lou on

    PS forgot to make suggestion for a future article – the perfect women’s white cotton t-shirt that doesn’t show your underwear and is £20 or less…

    Reply

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