It was one of those slow-burner decisions, bubbling away at the back of my mind for months. I’d dabbled with social media black-out days and deleting apps from my phone, but in the end my decision to quit Facebook was made on a whim.
I’d logged in, realised I’d lost ten minutes of my life doing nothing and feeling no better for it and, in a sudden rush of frustration, deactivated my account.
You might think that, as a blogger, this was a stupid thing to do. Facebook is a huge source of blog traffic, a way to connect with new and old readers alike. Perhaps not my full bread and butter, but a hefty slice of it at least.
But what you don’t know is that it wasn’t my only Facebook account. My original Facebook account is the one linked to my blog Facebook page. It’s in a different name – my married one – and is where I’m friends with people I know in real life. School mum mates, friends from uni, relatives… that kind of thing. Confused yet?
The Facebook account I deactivated was one I set up four years ago to try to manage my work / life balance. Once my freelance work and this blog started to take off, I found I was being increasingly friend-requested by other bloggers, or people who read my stuff online. And I was being added into groups – SO many groups. I started to feel like I had to be on Facebook all the time, and I was interacting less and less on there with the “real” people in my life.
And so I embraced a new extra Facebook profile, set up in my maiden name. I was in lots of Facebook groups with other bloggers, about blogging. Some of these groups were really lovely supportive places, and some weren’t. One thing is common of all these places though – they sucked in my attention more than any addictive Netflix box set. I mean, some of these groups had Stranger Things levels of interest.
Threads about PR wins and fails, threads asking for advice, AIBU threads, threads talking about other bloggers (we’ve all seen them), whatever the subject you can guarantee that it exists on a thread in a group somewhere on Facebook.
For four years I found it really useful to be in these groups. And, if I’m honest, there’s one group in particular that I’ve really missed since deactivating my account. As someone working on their own a lot of the time, at home, it was useful to have teams of “colleagues” to chat to and share ideas with. The Facebook groups became my office banter.
But then, a couple of weeks ago, I started to feel different. Admittedly, this is a hectic time of year, but instead of knuckling down on my To Do list, I found myself procrastinating by logging into my “work” Facebook profile. Aside from all the threads in the groups I also had a million and one statuses – many from people I didn’t even know – to keep up with. And with every minute on there my mood got worse.
I found myself comparing my blog wins, work highs and personal joys with others and coming up short. For every little win there was someone with a bigger one. This is often the nature of social media, I hear you say, but Facebook seems to magnify that feeling for me. It’s more personal. In some of the groups I was in it was always the same people being virtually high-fived and any time it wasn’t me I felt, well, crap.
Even though the rational side of my brain knew that people aren’t always truthful on social media, that comments on threads in Facebook groups should be taken with a pinch of salt, that none of it actually meant anything, I couldn’t help but be sucked in. It was like a scab I couldn’t resist itching, even though I knew it would make me bleed.
And so I deactivated my account.
At first I worried people would think I’d de-friended them and hate me, or think I’d flounced out of a group in a huff. But then I realised I couldn’t continue to do things based on a vague fear of what people might think of me. And so I tried not to worry, waiting to see if there would be any knock-on effect.
And you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.
A few people noticed my profile wasn’t active and messaged me elsewhere. But as I was continuing to post on all my other platforms, it wasn’t like I’d disappeared from the world. The week I deactivated my account was one of the best work weeks I’ve had in months. And as I started to focus more clearly, I found I was more productive, more confident and generally happier.
I interacted more with people on other platforms. I made connections with new people and, as an accidental happy result of this extra time, saw my own engagement levels and follower counts increase.
If I was worried about feeling disjointed from the increasingly huge UK parent blogging community, my experience last weekend on a vlogging retreat proved that you don’t have to be Facebook friends with all the other bloggers and be in all the blogging groups, to be connected. (Watch the video here.)
This isn’t a blogger-bashing post, or a Facebook bashing post. It’s more a reflection of where I was at for a while and a post to say that, if you can relate to any of this, it might help to streamline things in a similar way.