Last year, I took the decision of suspending my Facebook account, and I haven’t been using the site since. I wanted to leave Facebook many times before, but always found some excuse to not do so: “You’re going to miss out what’s going on in the world” “You will lose contact with your friends and family” and most importantly “You will lose a big chunk of your audience/clients/job opportunities as an artist”. Now, 4 months later, I realize those fears were not justified. My life goes on, and there weren’t many drawbacks with my decision. From a career point of view, I believe it’s an improvement
There are several reasons why I decided to stop using facebook. Most of them, related to my productivity, and some others, to my well being. Here’s a list of those reasons:
Seeing my friends and family become more and more polarized over social/political garbage
When it’s not Trump, it’s Piñera. When it’s not about feminism, it’s about veganism. When it’s not about saving the whales, it’s about some random dog/cat abuser. And everyone hates each other. Some studies have observed how we end up feeling worse after using social media, in comparison on how we felt before browsing. I started growing weary of all these polarized turmoil everywhere I went. It did no good to my mental state, specially when I saw friends acting in very sad, judgemental ways, whatever the cause or faction was at the moment. Knowing the trending political issue was not on my priority list as an artist nor human being.
Its overall utility has been decreasing over time
Like most people, I started using facebook as a way to connect with people. I used it for planning events, chat with people with the Messenger App (which I still use despite not using the site), have a fan page, visit art groups, and of course, memes. Over the years, I stopped caring about what most people were doing with their lives, unless they were family or close friends. I stopped consuming memes as a form of entertainment. My fanpage was not growing and the interaction was minimal. Art groups were not as useful as forums, and finally, I stopped going to chilean thematic events. As you can see, there wasn’t much of a point visiting the site anymore.
The overall increase on publicity
You have to understand that social media is a form of entertainment. An unfocused stream of information where we users are the producers of content. Based on that, the goal of the site is to produce revenue through ads, targeted at you depending on what you like or not. At first, I remember these ads appearing at both sides of the website. That I could bear, but then these annoying ads started to appear even on the news feed. I don’t consider myself as a compulsive buyer, so seeing these things every 3 or 4 “real” publications was a infuriating.
So what changed?
On average, I have perceived improvements on my productivity, focus, and metal being. Clicking the icon of facebook whenever I’m bored or distracted is no longer a habit, which is good. This conscious decision kickstarted a lesser interest on social media in general, which allows me to focus more on my work, projects and social life. Here are some specific benefits after quiting:
More resistance to online temptation:
It is known that negative emotions trigger cravings of different sorts. Some people eat cookies, some masturbate, and others browse social media. Facebook became the go to for when I was distracted, angry or frustrated. Now, it’s easier to recognize when a crave is initiated, and so is my power of decision over it. It’s easier to say “no” when my mind wants to get distracted on the internet, just because I encounter a difficult problem to solve during my work hours.
I experiment less negative emotion during the day
In the end, I realized is not much about right vs wrong in the social media world. It’s about feeling emotion, high emotion. Social media provides us with this “high” of anger against humanity, frustration against the government, and hate against some person we don’t know. We can become addicted to it, being good or bad emotion. I realized I don’t need to feel those “highs” in order to feel alive. As Mark Manson would say, “you have a limited amount of f*cks you can give during the day”. Believe me, those emotions don’t stay at the desktop. If I want to be a more effective professional, I cannot let those needless, addictive emotions drain my energy. There are more important matters to attend.
I’m more focused on my job, and less on popularity
Acceptance, social status, reproduction. We search for these things. Is part of who we are. Social Media can easily deceive us, creating an illusion of how important we are. We see the superstars, the politics, the athletes, and how many likes and followers they have. We believe that having a high number of likes can make us important, validated, wanted. No matter how screwed up your life is, at least you are popular on social media. In a way, these websites created a new need on human beings, based on numbers. I too, played this game for a long time, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t have relapses from time to time. But every time, it’s easier to leave this mentality behind. When I left facebook, and after reading and listening to several studies on the addictive behaviour this kind of website promote, I felt like all those likes and happy emoticons were pretty useless for my career as an artist. And it was good, because now I don’t pursue art for the sake of likes. I pursue excellence as a way of growth, beyond what analytics would claim.
It’s not like I became a 100% productive machine overnight. I still procrastinate and distract myself, but my self control is way higher than before. I can now have longer work sessions without looking other sites, and I have relearned to feel good just doing my art. The accomplishment of long term goals is way better than having your hourly dose of dopamine by visiting social media.
You don’t have to leave your preferred social media based solely on my experience, but maybe this will help you understand that, despite what most people say, you don’t need Facebook to be happy.
Speak your mind in the comments
My deepest thanks to my supporters over Patreon: