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Reclaiming one's life in the Digital Age: Adios Facebook

"Time is of the essence"

March 20, 2012
Last week, I decided to delete my Facebook.

Without going into a long drawn-out explanation, I felt like I was losing an unacceptable amount of my "life" to the distraction of everything digital – to e-mail, texting, tweeting and to Facebook.

Not only that, but in addition to losing time, I also believe that all this "noise" – all this information either available to me or coming at me – was physically distorting pieces of me mentally and emotionally.

I found that I was generally increasing the amount of time with my brain buried in a smartphone or iPad and I was decreasing the amount of time that I spent in conversation with people face to face; in reading or writing letters; in simply listening to people; in noticing the things my children were doing or saying; and in general, missing out on parts of life that I suspect are really critical to my health.

So I decided to take the first step, and that was Facebook. The next step will involve my iPhone, but I am still processing exactly what I will do.

I knew that deleting my Facebook would be hard. I have had it now for probably three years or so, maybe longer. I have reconnected with a lot of people and old friends with whom I otherwise would never have reconnected, and I have enjoyed the peek into their lives through the posts on their walls, their photos and their messages.

I have enjoyed this but, really, there were only a small number of my friends that I actually interacted with out of the around 160 on my "friend" list.

When I started actually making myself get serious about this, I started going over my Facebook to make sure I knew what I was going to lose. I copied my "quotes" and all those "life lessons" that I had included in my "basic information."

I then made screen shots of all my friends because I really don't want to forget any of them, but I know full well that I will probably have no further contact with many. Realizing that aspect has been disturbing and sad to me, but I also realize that it is just part of the cost of taking part of my life back.

Everything worth doing or having has a cost. If it doesn't, then you're probably going to find that it wasn't really as valuable as you thought it was.

When I started going over the photos in my albums and also those that were posted to my wall for these years, I really started getting cold feet about this deleting thing. It started to feel like I was taking my scrapbooks and throwing them into the fireplace.

All that time. All those memories. All those friends. Did I really want to do this?

Well, one of the few advantages of being 57 is that by that age you usually have a good idea about how you are going to behave in situations – what you will do and what you will not do. And very early on, I knew that I probably would not follow through with this.

So I thought about it and decided to post the following on my Facebook wall: "OK, so to all my friends and especially family – so you won't think that I have de-friended you, after considerable thought I think I am deleting the ol' Facebook account this week. I am going to spend the time I save doing more of the other stuff I did before FB was around – like read, converse, write letters, etc. So, don't be surprised one of these days to get an old-fashion pen-and-ink letter from me! Cheers. Ray."

I knew the only way to make myself delete FB would be if I publically announced that I was doing it. This way, I would look like an idiot if I didn't. Yes, I know some of you are saying "well, you are an idiot anyway" – and I know who you are.

Anyway, about a dozen of those friends who I was actually in contact with through Facebook posted to my wall. The first post was from my oldest friend: "Smart move."

The 14th comment that came in while I was typing this sentence was from cousin Mirasol in Berlin, who said, "You're just a few days ahead of me [in deleting your account]. Make sure I get your Christmas letter."

So anyway, I have given myself until Wednesday, March 14, to do it. I have already been warned that Facebook will do everything it can to make it hard. I am told by some of my more Facebook-savvy friends that it will also probably only allow me to de-activate my account. You know what, I really don't care if it is deactivated or completely killed because on Wednesday, it is gone and I get part of my life back.

Cheers, in Alpharetta, GA

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  1. report print email
    March 21, 2012 | 08:42 PM

    First of all, I must admit that I hardly ever look at the Johns Creek Herald - maybe 4-5 times a year if I'm lucky. Today, however, I felt the need to take a look. I opened the paper right to your article as if it was calling my name.

    I loved your article, Mr. Appen! I agree 100% that all things digital have a way of taking over our lives. It's easy to get sucked into the digital world - it's actually addicting. It's not easy, however, to take a step back and refrain from overuse.

    I applaud your desire to "quit" Facebook and I sincerely hope that you can find pleasure in things not digital. That phone call or letter you mentioned in your article will mean so much more than a post on Facebook.


    Kathy Schieltz

    P.S. I sent a link to your article to several friends!

    Kathy Schieltz
  2. report print email
    Thank you Kathy
    March 21, 2012 | 08:52 PM

    It feels very good to have exited FB. My email is next!

  3. report print email
    Welcome to the Club
    March 26, 2012 | 01:41 PM

    Congratulations! I am 28 years old and I officially deleted my facebook account a couple years ago. I did have to send an email to the facebook team to formally request they delete it instead of just de-activating it though. At times, I still get flack for leaving, but it was the best decision for me. I also value the one-on-one face time with friends and people. There is also a sense of peace since I am no longer exposed to the stories, good and bad that I was reading from my "facebook friends"; mostly it all seemed like a competition for attention. You are definitely not alone in wanting to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the real world. Really enjoyed the article. Good luck to you.

  4. report print email
    March 29, 2012 | 09:12 PM

    I agree with much of what you say and think personally we should get away from being slaves to social media, but from a business perspective, I would think you'd be embrassing all new forms of social media as new avenues for sharing the news. I can tell you I read the Johns Creek Herald every week, but my kids don't, they look to Facebook, Google, and every other online source for their news and entertainment.

    John A
    Johns Creek
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