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How to Leave Facebook 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Facebook has been the hugest time suck I’ve ever experienced. I haven’t even watched TV in months, I feel like I never have time to do the things I should be doing, and I get antsy if I can’t check it at least a few times a day.
~ Anonymous friend

Have you seen enough cat pictures? Tired of all the privacy leaks? Or do you just want to recoup the time that you lose captivated by people you don’t really even like?

You want to take a Facebook break, but you’re not sure how. A report published Feb. 5 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows 61% of Facebook users have taken a break from using the social networking site at some point. If so many people can take a Facebook break, then why not you?

But leaving Facebook?  Yes, it sounds insane. To hear some folks considering it, the idea of leaving Facebook is akin to leaving Earth. If you can’t bring yourself to deactivate your account right away, you can ease yourself into a Facebook break by limiting your interaction with the site.

A great starting point is the notifications. Do you really want to know when a friend-of-a-friend’s Aunt Lulu comments on a puppy photo you commented on in 2010? You don’t need a text message or email about that. If you look through the notifications, you’ll see that you can live without a lot of them.

FACEBOOKOBLIGATION

Of course, you’ll want to be notified about friend requests, but more important: you want to be notified when you’ve been tagged in a photo or a post. You don’t want the idiot friend who doesn’t follow the What-Stays-In-Vegas Rule to tag you in the pics of the fur bikini mechanical bull riding contest that you won in 2006.

If you want to further limit your Facebook interactions, delete the app from your phone. You’ll be amazed at how freeing this is. No badges, no buzzes. You’ll find your phone is plenty entertaining without it.

After you have limited the notifications and deleted the app, you’ll probably feel like something’s missing — like you’re not wearing pants. That will pass. You’ll soon find a sense of calm and quiet. At this point, you might find deactivating your account isn’t so hard. Try just one week.  At the end of that week, see how you feel. You may be surprised to find you feel relieved.

Why would I feel relieved?

Because you wouldn’t constantly be responding to a website.

Let’s face it: Social media carries an obligation. If we’re logged on, we are required to respond. It’s like if you’re at a party, you’re required to interact. Facebook is a 24/7/365 party. And sometimes you need to leave the party.

That’s not to say that you can never go back. But when you do, you’ll probably have a different perspective about what you share and with whom you’re sharing. This is healthy. We need to revisit how we interact on social media from time to time so that the sites — Facebook, Twitter, Google+ — don’t completely legislate what we share, how we share it and with whom we share. Taking a break from Facebook (or any social media) allows us to step back from the maddening crowd and think for ourselves — without the coercion of an unapologetic algorithm or the noise of a 24/7/365 party.

 

EARLIER: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook