It’s been over 1,300 days since I deactivated my Facebook account. I know you’re all wondering: How am I still alive?
Guess what? Not only am I breathing, I’m loving life even more.
I admit I was probably one of the earliest FB believers, posting trips with friends and each of my kid’s first days of school. And it’s clear that the majority of Gen Xers like me are becoming obsessed, with a new study showing my generation actually out number millennials in the screen time they give social media.
Yet, as the FB time kept mounting up so did the eerie sense my life wasn’t my own. That, added to the constant reminder that everyone’s life was better than mine (really?) made me wonder why I was spending hour after hour checking in.
Then, a close friend passed away too soon. He and I had grown up together, spending many memorable days waterskiing and boating—fresh air and sunshine was all I could think of. At that moment I decided this is what he would want for me. Not hours—or even a minute—spent in front of a screen absorbing news from my “friends.”
As a content creator with a mission to tell each of my client’s stories, I understand the importance of Facebook for business—and for some, the solace it offers when living far from family and friends. But, in my life removing it was the best thing I ever did and here’s why:
- Time. We all complain about being too busy. By deactivating FB I got back at least one hour a day. That’s 8,760 hours a year to grow, live and love—and breathe.
I also started to embrace the idea of something I loved as a kid: Field trips. Now, there were days I actually had extra time! Where would I go? Who could I talk with? What could I see? As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”
So far, some my favorite Friday field trips include a trip to Amish country for fresh eggs (18 for $1.88!), a photo shoot with one of the most exotic cars in the world (#coolfriendconnection), an afternoon drive three hours south to take my mom’s best friend to lunch (#priceless) and a soothing ride on Lake Erie—alone (#nowifi).
- Core (and mental) strength. I mean it when I say I commit the hour gained to breathing—away from the desk. Soon after I deactivated virtually, I upped my real presence at the yoga studio. Try an hour class twice a week and feel your core expand and strengthen with each breath. An added benefit? Mental clarity. The evidence of yoga’s value on both mental and physical health is numerous. Case in point: recent research has shown yoga is beneficial for the mind, can aid depression and help you get a good night’s sleep. This, I’m certain, I would never find from Facebook.
- Conversation. Yes, real conversations actually happen. No IM for me. I always laugh when visiting friends in my hometown as they ask where I’ve been. “You’re not on Facebook!,” they exclaim. My reply: “But I’m standing in front of you now. Isn’t that better?” There’s a whole following for those who embrace #IRL (In Real Life). I highly recommend trying it.
- Privacy. In a world where everyone is connected, deactivating felt like I was regaining a bit of control. Control over what people know about me, my family and my life. I’m happy for those who post every minute and detail of their day if that makes them happy—really, I am. I just don’t want the world to know what I’m doing or what my kids’ latest accomplishments are (especially now that they’re in college!). If I do, I’ll call or text (for those who are still mad I’m not on FB, I really will).
- Perspective. My friend’s absence reminds me of this each day. Being present can be hard; losing time is worse. Sit in the sun, laugh with your friends, go waterskiing if the lake is smooth and most importantly, breathe. Life is short. Facebook will go on without you.
Beth A. Kapes is Founder & President, Moving Words Into Action, LLC. She loves telling the story that makes a difference! You can’t find her on Facebook, but she admits a love for LinkedIn and Twitter. Contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give her a call for a real conversation at 440.773.5324