Why I Am Leaving Facebook

Dear Friends,

This decision does not come lightly or easily, but I think that I need to leave Facebook.  Actually I am 100% sure of it.  I am not 100% sure for how long, or if it will be for good, but the latter is certainly a possibility.  Before I explain to you my personal reasons for doing so, I want to say that my reasons are no judgment on anybody else.  Maybe you’ll connect with some of what I feel, maybe you won’t.  I know there are many of you who seem to be able to use Facebook in a way that I wish I can do.  Some of my reasons are broad and for what I feel are based on reasoning, others are simply based on personal reflections and knowing myself and my own weaknesses.

I will start with some broader ethical concerns that make me feel it is the right thing to do.  All of that can be best summed up by this TED talk.  We live in an attention economy and companies are working to grab hold of my attention, and they’ve succeeded.  There are people out there who are starting to think about ethics in this realm, but as it stands I don’t think I want to be part of this game where possible. I probably can’t get away from Google or Amazon, but I can do something.  There are entities out there who want to learn about us and dictate how we want to live, and I want to at least take back some control and make more decisions about how I want to live.  I don’t think that Zuckerberg or any of his crew are evil or anything, but I don’t think they put a lot of thought into what they are actually doing and wondering how they might change society for the better with this powerful tool.

But really it boils down to personal reasons.  I don’t believe social media is inherently bad.  When I see how useful it is for mobilizing something like March for our Lives, I think social media is a tool we need.  Through Facebook I have met some incredible people.  People I know will be friends for life.  I have many friends who have helped expose me to insightful articles that help me learn and have meaningful discussions.  But there is another side to all of it.  There is seeing friends all posting the same horror stories on their news feeds.  It’s not that they shouldn’t, they care about these things, but when you see the same headline over and over again it gets to you.  Then there are the idiotic and poorly reasoned comments and this is where I fall into the trap over and over again of getting into these conversations.  They get me angry, and I find myself unable to calm my mind.  Sometimes these thought linger with me while I’m trying to sleep, trying to meditate, or when I get up in the morning.  I’m getting angry at people I don’t even know and will never meet, even when I try to remain civil in the conversation.  And then as comments and status mount, I’m seeing who replied, who reacted to my comment or status, and it all adds up.  And I wonder, what am I really counting, and is there a point to it.  If I make a comment that a lot of people like does that mean anything?  Is this how I should be deriving a sense of value?  I ask this question a lot.   Facebook feels noisy to me now.  The best analogy I can think of (and this dates me) is that it’s like a radio station with a lot of static and interference.  There is definitely a signal I want from social media, but I can disentangle it from the noise.  I fight to just focus on the part I want to hear, but I can’t tune out the static.   I see other people do this and I know it’s possible.  It just doesn’t seem possible for me right now.  It just seems like the best idea to turn the radio off and read a book instead.  It doesn’t feel like it’s increasing my happiness, contentedness or peace in life.

The weight of the world has been heavy on me these recent years.  Even before Trump (Trump certainly hasn’t helped).  I know this has been true for many friends my age.  As you become more aware of what’s going on, there is a price to pay for that, you want to do something, you want to make a difference.  In that vein I decided do some volunteer work in my local community to help neglected and abused children.  With a second kid arriving, the responsibilities of now being a department chair, I am more acutely aware of my own limitations in both time and energy.  I contemplated giving up my volunteer work with the second kid coming, but given the amount of time I spend on Facebook it just became crazy to me to give up the volunteer work.  Don’t get me wrong, it means a lot that I mean something to people who might feel sad that I’m leaving, and there is obviously value in maintaining a relationship between people you value and admire, but as of right now, while I’m unable to shut out all the noise I have to truly ask myself, “Is the time and energy I’m putting into Facebook the most effective way I can use my time and energy?”  I have to ask myself “Am I inspiring, teaching, helping by being on Facebook?”  Now maybe I am, but it doesn’t feel that way.  It often feels like I’ve just used Facebook as a way to ‘feel’ like I’m doing something; to ‘feel’ like I’m helping.   I feel like I can’t know the answer to these questions until I break away from Facebook for awhile; to sort of de-clutter, and see what paths lay out before me.   I was very inspired by this TED talk recently about how we can affect change in the world and I believe that sometimes I on Facebook when there is value I could be adding to the lives of family and friends just a few feet away from me.

I started this blog as outline to express myself intellectually and creatively.  Whether people have enjoyed my blog posts are not, I have found it immensely helpful to me as an individual and this is also something I don’t want to give up as my time grows shorter with a new family member on the way.  I don’t plan on leaving Facebook until the end of April.  In that time I hope that those of you who read this, and who want to keep in touch will talk to me so we can find out a way to do that.  But certainly following this blog is a good way to do that.  There is a way to follow this blog by e-mail, and am happy to have discussions with you on here.  There are other messenger services (like gchat) where we can still have conversations, and there is e-mail (sgill1974@gmail.com), twitter (@profswarn) for quick shout outs, and you can message me for my number for texting.  I realize though that there is going to be losses with this.  And while this decision might seem sudden, please know, that with all life decisions I have put in a great deal of thought into it, and this is something that has been growing in my mind for the last 3 years as I have tried, unsuccessfully, to have mastery over Facebook.  I hope that maybe after a good break I can come back to it with better control and use it in a way that compliments my life.  Right now I just feel like I’m in a mire and I just need to get out for awhile.  At the very least it will make me a more present father, and that alone has value.  I hope you can support me in this decision.  And for all the people that enjoy my company on Facebook and who might not interact as much once I leave, just remember that my doors are always open if ever you are in the Pittsburgh area.  Just give me a heads up even if a lot of time has passed.  The memory in my brain might not be reliable but the memory in my heart always looks forward to interacting with a friend.

Thank you for traveling with me along my journey in life, I hope that many of you will continue.

Be good to each other and do good in this world in the way that serves you best.

With Love,

36 thoughts on “Why I Am Leaving Facebook

  1. Maybe I’m the weird one but I’ve never felt like FB has control over me. Perhaps because I visit it (maybe) once a day — mostly just to see what’s being said. I rarely post anything of my own — and I NEVER read the stuff that shows up when I’ve reacted or left comments on someone else’s post. Any “ads” that show up, I mark that they are irrelevant to me and I don’t want to see any more.

    Anyway, I guess it’s “to each his own” and if you feel it’s not benefiting you, you must follow the action that works best for you.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Yes, I’m with you, Nan. Do what you must, Swarn. I don’t feel the need to pull away from Facebook because I’m on when I want to be. I don’t hypnotically scroll through a news feed poisoned with the faces of corrupt politicians. Like Nan, if I see ads I don’t care for, I mark them as irrelevant. I share when I want, what I want. And it reminds me of birthdays of those I care about. Aloha, Swarn. I care much more about what I see here on WordPress, so glad you’re remaining among us 😉

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Thank you Bela. I am certainly hitting a phase of my life where my spiritual health has become perhaps more important. Not in any religious sense, but I have a good feel for what gives me the most joy, and with a limit on where I can put my energy, I need to put it in places where it is going to count the most. I can still be a good friend to people, maybe even a better one, then trying to distribute myself over so many. I have made some wonderful friends and connections on Facebook and I know there will be some loss there, but at the end of the day, I’d still rather have fewer friends that I can sit down face to face with than a 100 on Facebook. I respect everybody else’s relationship with Facebook and know there are some people who will be sad with my leaving because they are able to derive much more of the positive out of Facebook, but for whatever reason I can’t. So stepping back and getting some distance from it seems best. Maybe I can come back to it with a better perspective and more self-control.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Me neither. I keep in contact with family and friends who are spread out across the globe, some of whom I would likely not ever interact with except at very rare family reunions. I’ve been in contact with, one of my cousins who is a luthier, more in the past two years than in the thirty before. I interact with several nature groups – ones that generally keep their clothes on – and it creates awareness of our business in an easy, relaxed manner.
      In general I quite enjoy Facebook.
      And I am sure Mr McZuckerburger will return all those naked selfies if I ask nicely.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Ryan59479

    I think you’ve pretty much summed up how I feel about Facebook. It does seem like it’s less about making actual connections and more about who can simply garner the most attention. I’ve heard researchers say that getting likes on social media triggers the reward center of the brain the same way gambling does.

    To me, it seems like total anarchy now on most social media. There’s so much information and opinion flying around and no attempt to organize, categorize, etc. It’s too much stimulation.

    I’ve thought about getting rid of Facebook, too. I did it during the election and I didn’t miss it. I only returned because I wanted to keep in touch with some geographically distant friends. But now their latest data scandal really seems to just reinforce how irresponsible Facebook is when it comes to thinking about the best interests of their users.

    Like you, I refuse to be somebody’s puppet.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sorry for the delayed response, but I agree with you completely. It has now been 24 hours without Facebook and I can already see the impacts of addiction…the constant triggering of the reward center is addictive. So is the addiction to getting angry about things. But largely in arguing with others, I get likes on my arguments and it appears to me that this was part of that same addiction. Not that I think it is important when making arguments that you get support from other people who follow your reasoning, but I don’t think Facebook really cares for that level of nuance, it’s only looking to make you feel approved and supported. I’ve already formed a lot of thoughts since I made this post about what it was doing to me. The thing is I sort of knew all along, but like any addict, was sure I had it all under control. Right now I still keep looking at my phone, looking for notifications of likes or comments. And I have deleted Facebook from my phone. It’s interesting to be aware now of just how often I am looking at my phone.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Who is tugging at me? Facebook? lol Well there are many friends sad that I am leaving and reminding what the good parts of it are, and there are some good parts of Facebook. I freely admit that. But I think most people understand where I’m coming from and at least it seems most people feel part of what I’m feeling even if they are more disciplined with their Facebook use. I am looking forward to a good break from it. Maybe at some point I can go and just use it occasionally like other people seem to do. Right now it’s just a huge time sink and is weighing negatively on my mental and emotional health, and so I think taking a good break seems wisest.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have unfollowed everyone that posts politics. I can still check in on them if I want, but all the bitching and fake news is pointless and stresses me out. WordPress kicks fb butt anyway, and a much better outlet without public bullying. I’m super close to deactivating fb, but hang in with it because of family.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I have to agree — I’m getting REALLY tired of the political posts. Some are pretty funny but many are starting to go over-the-top, IMO.

      I only have one family member that posts regularly (a granddaughter who lives in CA) and a couple of friends that I keep in touch with … so I’m considering following your action and getting rid of the political posters … and maybe a couple of others.

      It’s really too bad all this happened because FB is/was a good way to keep in touch with friends and family.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I don’t miss it, and nobody misses you or me anyway. It turned me into an online narcissist thinking people would miss me. They don’t, and I don’t miss them. Life was actually better before social media. Now you know everything anyone wants you to see, and life’s not that lopsided. It’s illusion.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I share some of this philosophy, but I do know that I have met some good, intelligent, and valuable people in this world that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I know social media can be an extremely powerful tool also as I alluded to in my post. Being able to organize national marches is a huge benefit that really wasn’t easily possible before. There are elements that are good, and elements that are not so good. The latter is what is beating me down right now and I don’t know how to deal with it, other than getting away.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Another thing, if you want your ten years worth of memories, fb keeps all that I believe, so you’d have to screenshot everything one by in if you really wanted out of Facebook. You are right about the people too, but …I dunno.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yeah I know I have to save some pictures yet. That’s another reason why I haven’t left yet. It takes time to shore up all those things. But putting the announcment out there helped to get the ball rolling. I read an article today talking about the way digital media fuels our moral outrage and it becomes somewhat addictive. That’s definitely where I am, and so I definitely needed to hold myself to my decision to leave. Making the announcement helps toward that end.

              Liked by 1 person

      2. If I get rid of political posters I’d be getting rid of most people. lol Maybe that’s the problem. But I do care about politics, and I think that should be important to discuss. But it just gets to be too much. It’s the weight of it all that’s bearing down on me. I like having friends that are concerned about important stuff, and I feel their anger and sadness as well, and maybe that’s part of why I’m struggling. There is just more of it, it seems in these days of Trump.


      3. See, I don’t follow that type of crap or even open any such links, so politics and climate control and diets and beer ads and naked pics of Donald Trump’s hooker girlfriends and what have you hold no interest for me.
        As I mentioned, I interact with family and a few fellow bloggers who are all nice.
        However, there is woman called Nan who harasses me all the time so I am thinking of unfriending her, and a bloke called Swarn who never gets my weather right even though he claims to have looked at clouds from both sides now.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah family was a big reason I didn’t delete it. This is something I’ve pondered really for years. Luckily my wife, who is much better about her Facebook use is going to post pictures for me for family. I think I will start an instagram account for people who want to follow me there as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. COMPLETELY support you Swarn!!! I’ve never really been much of a FB fanatic for many of the same reasons you’ve listed here. Plus, your volunteer work, soon to be a father of TWO (Woooohoooooo! 🤗), your career and its demands, THEN your marriage, etc, etc, suddenly there seems to rarely be enough time for solo-self and relaxing, restful sleep, right!? LOL

    Besides, as you also accurately noted, FB and most social-media websites and phone apps are designed to be invasive of your time, personal business and info/history to be used for demographics, marketing and monetary gains — the epitomy of unfettered Capitalism! 🤪

    But you are staying on WordPress, right? 🤔 Please? ❤

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Thank you Professor. I appreciate the support. I hope I can come back to Facebook, because there are a lot of people I’ll miss, but I know I need to definitely step away for a good bit, and figure out how to use Facebook better in a way that I want to, if I come back at all.

      And definitely not leaving here. This is something I don’t want to give up. Giving up the time I spend on Facebook seemed like the better option.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This feels wise and heartfelt, Swarn. I’ve never spent any real time on FB so don’t really know what you may be “losing” by setting it aside, but my sense is that you’ll only gain by unplugging from a venue that isn’t serving you. And those around you will probably gain, too!


    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve mentioned this several times across the WP front, my stint at FB lasted all of 3 days. My family kept saying “get a FB account, we can stay in touch!” I finally caved and got a FB account. Then I saw all of the ignorant shit my family was posting. I was much happier not knowing their political leanings and all about theur insipid daily lives that they just had to trumpet to the world. I had made up my mind to delete on the 2nd day, it took the 3rd day to finally discover how to actually delete a FB account. They do not make it easy to do. Google got me through it.

    Even had I kept the FB account, given what is now known, I’d be deleting it like my life depended on it. The platform for family/friends/staying in touch, is really the platform of corruption. I wanted no part of it before I knew that, sure as hell want none of it now.

    I support your decision. And we’d all like it if you stay on here at WP 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “I’m getting angry at people I don’t even know and will never meet, even when I try to remain civil in the conversation. And then as comments and status mount, I’m seeing who replied, who reacted to my comment or status, and it all adds up.”

    If I can say – without jinxing the sentiment – we all learn to pick our battles and I feel you’ll, sooner or later, be successful at just that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope that’s true. I mean the problem is that it’s like I know the right thing to do intellectually in almost an academic way, but when I get on Facebook it’s like it just becomes automatic…almost mindless. Like the way you might eat an entire bag of chips even though you weren’t that hungry and be like “damn” there goes my diet. lol In the past, by taking a break, I have been able to approach the situation again with more control and awareness, but this is just one of several factors that I’m just not sure it’s the healthiest place to be. It is definitely with a lot of mixed feelings that I leave, but I think I need to rediscover myself a bit and devote more time and energy into other areas of my life.

      Thank you for your comment. Much appreciated. 🙂


  8. I agree with you. Seldom do I visit my 2 pages, when visiting to see my posted articles, virtually am always lost how to navigate and conversations do not engage me.
    Thinking I left the day I signed on!
    You are sounding a great deal like Cal Newport, take time away for better things in life!!
    Thank you Swarn

    Liked by 2 people

  9. David

    I really hope you find the peace from this that you seek. I gave up Facebook for well over a year due to many of the same reasons (though at the time I don’t think I really understood the reasons as well as I do now) and while I do use it once more to a degree I spend less than an hour a week with it. It is not something that I ever really feel like I am missing out in, yet I do wish that I had been about to keep more of the relationships that have dwindled in that time. Overall though I find myself more able to enjoy the people around me and life in general when not feeling that I need to live it through the lens of Facebook. I do find it somewhat frustrating though the amount of time that others didn’t on it, but that has been a much easier thing to deal with than the grip that the service had over my life. That said I must admit that your posts are some of the few that I truly enjoy seeing as you are insightful and thoughtful in everything you post, it’s truly a breath of fresh air. I will certainly follow your blog here and hope that I can reconnect with you and others at Cal now that I am working closer with better hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your words and support David. Because I knew there would be losses and because I value parts of Facebook, it was important to me to understand why I needed to give it up, before I walked away. I knew of course that there would be people who would fade from my life. As a result, I think I have been suffering from some slight levels of depression for about 6 months. Only since I started practicing mindfulness meditation do I feel like I had a lens that was helping me observe my emotions from a distance, did I come to realize this. I do believe Facebook is it a tool and one can learn to use it in a way that fits one owns life, but it is also designed to get your attention and suck you in. Manufacturing outrage is one of the ways in which it does this, and this is what I began to see everywhere. Sometimes from my own friends, or friends of friends. And I just couldn’t seem to stop myself from getting sucked in to arguments. But you even find yourself getting outraged along with people you agree with, and just sitting at that emotional level for long periods of time seemed weirdly addicted and also exhausting. It just became too tiring. I think some people found my post a bit judgmental, but I have no doubt that my Facebook friends are fine people and know many of them in real life of course, and I think many of us are getting sucked in unconsciously whether we realize it or not. We are deluding ourselves into believing that being plugged in like this is to our benefit. I’m not sure it is.

      I think some people can manage it better, but I couldn’t. And my decision to quit is as much a commentary on who I am as a person as it is on Facebook itself. Sometimes you just have to choose things that are healthier for you, even if it means giving up some things you enjoy. Like powdered sugared donuts. 🙂 I might be able to come back on a limited basis, but we’ll see. I just want to see what life is like without Facebook for awhile. Anybody that I know who has given it up has said their quality of life improved. And with two young children, I think I owe it to them to give them more of my attention and time. There are many ways to make the world a better place, and sometimes that’s just making sure your children turn out to be good humans. 🙂


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