Goodbye Facebook Part 2: Life After Facebook


Four months ago I quit Facebook.

I was nervous, filled with trepidation about how my friendships would proceed next. My quitting Facebook was not an impulse decision. I was finally taking my friendships back, showing my friends that I was tired of the broadcast environment and that I wanted to spend more time with them on a far more personal level. What happened next?

Several friends immediately contacted me to setup lunch plans, make sure I had their contact information and generally show their support and encouragement for my decision. Many agreed with me but weren’t ready to close their own account. One wrote me in angry protest.

My blog post about quitting Facebook went semi-viral. My biggest post to date, it still rakes in regular traffic here. The web response was unreal, more than 80,000 hits in a 24 hour time period. As a nominal blogger, these numbers are huge to me. I couldn’t keep up with the comments here on the blog, Google Plus, reddit and Hacker News. As a writer, it’s hugely flattering to find your words carried meaning for others. For everyone who read my first post, thank you.

I will admit, I feel slightly cut off now that I’ve stepped away from receiving the broadcasts of every small detail of the daily lives of my 200 or so closest friends and family. People truly do have to take an extra step to loop me in to their lives. What’s been impressive are the number of people that take that extra step. I’m learning, quite clearly, who truly values my input.

Having lunch with a friend, she suddenly remembered news that she’d already shared online. “Oh yes! You’re not on Facebook, let me tell you about….” But you know what? I loved hearing it from her personally rather than reading a post. It was far more fun, more personal to hear the story over a shared meal at our favorite restaurant. Being able to see the happy glow in her eyes, share laughter and smiles and give her a hug at the end far outweighed reading smaller updates on a daily level.

My circles have grown much smaller, but infinitely tighter. On the flip side, losing all that extra “noise” in the background has helped me focus on deepening the actual relationships I share with them. I’ve withdrawn from my circle of friends somewhat, but the individual interactions are richer and deeper. Gone are the daily hellos, traded in for afternoons at the beach, lunches at our favorite restaurants, emailed photos when a friend stumbles on to something that reminds them of me.

I have one friend in particular that was upset I left Facebook. She felt I’d traded Facebook for another social network. She didn’t realize that I use them for different purposes and I wasn’t swapping one for another. She seemed angry and after one awkward dinner, we haven’t spoken, texted or emailed since.

I was deeply saddened that she’d let my leaving Facebook come between us. Then I realized something very important: We’d been drifting apart for several years now. The only thing really holding us together was the superficial ties on Facebook. I think, rather than keeping the friendship afloat, Facebook prolonged the inevitable death throes of two people moving in different directions. Facebook was a tool to help falsely maintain an ending friendship. We’d simply grown too far apart.

I want my interactions with my friends to be honest and real. I don’t want to maintain a friend list because “I should”. I want the people who keep me around to do so because they like and value my company and opinion. I’m not going to lie, I still miss seeing a lot of those status updates and photos. But I also know that each time someone calls, emails or texts me – it’s because they wanted to share that specific moment with me.

And, for the first time in 10 years I did not call my friend and sing to her on her birthday. Sometimes, it’s best to just quietly slip away.

  1. I quit FB almost three years ago and have never regretted it, nor do I miss it.

  2. I admit that I maintain a facebook account entirely to maintain contact with two people… one of whom I actually live with so that’s a poor excuse.

    My problem with social media is that I’m just not very good at it. When I post something (as opposed to commenting on something) I very seldom get responses, and those I do get are generally the typical canned response that is impossible to connect with on an emotional level. I don’t maintain large groups of friends and of those I do maintain I have no real personal connection to them.

    This is not a problem with social media, but is an issue with my own inability to connect with people on more than a superficial way I suppose. It makes social media feel very lonely, and as a result I tend to end up using them as a means of keeping up with entities rather than people… something that Google+ actually does very well.

  3. Its not an easy thing to, so first I’ll say good for you for having the guts to do it. My feeling is Facebook is out of control. I’m there but I don’t allow any cookies or anything that has anything to with advertising. Nor do I play any of those games..Each time I go there I made my computer (options and security) not accept any type of, lets say, spying or looking at what I am doing. I sign in each time I go there and sign out when I leave. If I forget my computer (Firefox) does it for me….I feel bad for the people that are being programed and used by this media. Like you I am a Blogger and now use the Google Blogger page where I have almost 30,000 page views. My Facebook time is coming to an end also. You are not alone.. This is a link for my page. Your choice if you want to check it out… http://tyler306.blogspot.com/ The bottom line here is good for you..

  4. Another great write up and it tops the part 1 of the same topic! Thanks Stephanie!

  5. Great write-up. Do you know who I look up to? Those who never joined in the first place. Very admirable.

  6. I love that you did this. I think a lot of us feel the pull away from it, but facebook is such a handy organizing tool for busy lives, it is hard to resist. I have a few friends that really only get on facebook once a week or so, and use it as a way to invite folks to kids’ birthday parties or something. I would love to re-think how I use it, not just go “cold turkey.” Either way, it is a good exercise in intentional choices. Thank you for helping me think about this.

    • Each person has to handle their own online relationships in their own way. Find the path that works best for you!

  7. Reblogged this on karlitoweb and commented:
    The second part of this wonderful story of leaving Facebook.

    • Mark Dalzell
    • November 8th, 2012

    Thanks for you inspiring words Stephanie 🙂 I too have just made the break, time to find out who my real friends are, and what about Lego mine craft!! Can’t wait to play it sometime, my sons and I love the Lego games, star wars is our favorite 🙂 I’m enjoying your posts, I hope you don’t mind, looking forward to reading more great blogs from you,

    Mark

    • Thanks! I’m trying to get back into posting once a week. Your words of encouragement help more than you know!

  8. After reading your first post, I decided I felt pretty similar. There are a handful of close friends that I actually interact with – beyond that, things were artificial. So I took out a big knife and cut my friends list down to 150 or so. I have some more to do, but for the most part, I’ve considered each person and whether or not they are actually a close friend, and whether or not I interact with them on a regular basis. It makes my news feed much more relevant.

    • I’d cut to 130 or so about 6 months prior to my first Facebook post. It helped for a while, but for me it was just a bandaid. But everyone’s online networks and relationships are different – what works for one may or may not be helpful for another. Glad to see you finding a way to make it work for you!

    • fz
    • November 14th, 2012

    Great blog! I just made the decision to leave fb myself for those exact reasons! Facebook also enables a lot of narcissistic traits in many people with the constant approval seeking! People forget that there is life off the internet, instead of sitting in a restaurant and sharing pictures of your meal – here is an idea enjoy your meal and the company you are with! People need to start actually living again.

    Great job and good luck!

  9. Hi there! I read your two Facebook blogs with great interest, and am now sitting here mulling over, once again, what my real ties are to social media. I found your blog by doing the following Yahoo! Search: “My friends visit my Facebook page but not my website”.
    I have a photography website, yet none of my “friends” ever “like”, comment, or sign the guestbook. Even when I post the link for new galleries onto Facebook, I get likes for the link (on Facebook) but the activity on my actual website is zilch. I then post the exact same photos into a gallery on Facebook, and lo and behold, the comments and likes are continuous.It’s as if Facebook is THEE platform for our world right now. News stories, life stories, movie trailers, magazine articles…they all get linked via Facebook. That extra step you referred to, in order to maintain friendship with you, is something that so many people don’t want to take nowadays. It’s awesome that you found out who your true friends are! Without Facebook, that mask is off.
    Thanks for the informative, and thought provoking blog post(s). 🙂

  10. Good for you! I have not deactivated my account, however I do login to the site itself very rarely now. Among my age group people use Facebook as the first line of communication for making plans, so what I did was download the Facebook Messaging application, and this allows me to use just the private messaging function of Facebook without having to see the rest of the site. I would recommend this app to other folks who feel overloaded by Facebook but still want to stay a member.

    As for the remaining aspects of Facebook, the News Feed is in my opinion one of the most ridiculous inventions concocted in the 21st century, because if you are managing a fairly large group of friends, you have to go to greater lengths to customize the feed to a smaller subset of friends or else you see broadcasts from everyone on every minutia of their lives. Sooner or later you begin to wonder what thrill there could possibly be in getting several “likes” on a virtual thought, but no one to like those thoughts in reality!

    • Robert Coots
    • January 17th, 2013

    I am a published author. I to would rather meet people in person. The smart phone has changed the way we live.

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    • cathy
    • April 15th, 2013

    I am currently in facebook limbo. I have all my photo albums – 66 of them with our family pics I dont want to lose of course. Im thinking about just unfriending all except my kids and this will be our online photos for family. Ive just overdosed on FB and it is so time consuming. If nothing else just going into hibernation for a while.

    • Whatever you decide is right for you, I hope that you take them time to download all your photos and keep a backup somewhere. Never let a third party hold your data hostage.

      I’d always had a backup of my photos in a separate place, so when I decided to leave Facebook I wasn’t concerned about data loss.

    • I agree.. I will admit to going there about once a week to see how my nieces and nephews are doing but other that that Nada…I always log out when I leave. Its very dangerous to stay signed it..

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    • Anonymous
    • August 9th, 2013

    some of us do miss you have nto kept in contact

    • Anonymous
    • January 22nd, 2014

    Left facebook and my 35 ‘friends’ and guess what? Nobody noticed. There’s the real definition of superficial. Much happier with the truth than surrounded by hypocrites.

    • Jonathan
    • May 12th, 2014

    As a web application developer I can’t ignore the fact that FB has us all doing free data entry of our own info onto their app for their benefit($). Having closed my account, I have noticed fewer but richer interactions … likely because if I am to interact now I have to do it pro actively, not passively via some FB post etc. Removing a ‘cardboard’ option for relationships forces us to not have most of them, but have actual relations with the few that remain. Those are the real ones anyhow.

    Oh and I also have a wife still on FB so I get an ad-free human filter for what I ‘have to know’ lol.

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  1. November 9th, 2012
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