I Quit Facebook ‘Cold Turkey’ Two Years Ago And I’m Saner For It
After holding out for a long time, I joined Facebook and gave it an extended tryout that lasted about a year.
During my year on Facebook, I found some things that I liked — such as reconnecting with old friends and staying up-to-date with what my friends and relatives were doing, as well as sharing photos. At one time, I had a following of over 500 people, including many new acquaintances from all walks of life.
A Disturbing Pattern Arose
However, after a while, I started to notice a disturbing pattern in my Facebook feed. In a charged political environment across America, the posts were becoming more and more vitriolic, some crossing over to the very extreme right or left.
Those like myself, who consider themselves moderates, and thus usually not given to, or receptive to, extreme points of view, were increasingly caught in the Facebook crossfire.
This became especially true whenever we tried to weigh in on the “dialogue” and offer a different perspective. At that point, all “guns” became pointed at us for daring to state something different than what someone else thought.
And the comments we received were especially mean and hostile. Some people were so closed-minded that they really couldn’t stomach the idea of someone challenging their point of view, even if done rather mildly and respectfully, which I personally always attempted to do.
Unfortunately, some of the attacks became extremely personal, including from a few long-standing friends of mine. I’m sad to report that this resulted in the termination of some of those friendships, two of which had been ongoing for over 40 years!
Also, very distressing was the fact that many of the most hateful posts were memes that were shared widely and indiscriminately without even the most minimal fact-checking and verification that the sources and information were legitimate.
Upon closer examination, Facebook eventually determined that this misleading misinformation was mostly created and distributed by Russian troll farms.
As we’ve come to learn over the past few years, such troll farms have been, and still are, doing everything possible to stir up controversy and thus pit Americans against one another. And too many Americans have fallen for this ruse.
Excessive Toxicity Was The Deal Breaker
I tried my best to hang in there on Facebook as long as I could because I did enjoy the pleasant exchanges I had with the vast majority of people.
However, in the end, the impact of the negative far outweighed that of the positive, so I finally decided to quit Facebook altogether so I could escape the excessive toxicity that was causing me a lot of stress every day and making me unhappy.
So I did what I needed to do to quit and delete my account. But Facebook doesn’t make it easy for you to delete your account. They make you go through a long waiting period, in case you change your mind and decide to stay after all. It’s a smart strategy because many people addicted to Facebook for a long time have a tough time quitting “cold turkey.”
These people start going through Facebook withdrawal pains, and before you know it, they’ve backtracked on their intention to quit Facebook and resume using it.
I know because I too was tempted to do that myself. However, I held fast during the period in which I had to wait before taking that final deletion action.
When the day finally came, I hit the “Delete” button over a year ago and have never looked back. Ever since then, my stress levels have gone way down. And I certainly don’t miss all the toxic garbage that was flying all around.
A lot of people get most of their “news” from Facebook. That means they are often trapping themselves inside a terrible “echo chamber” where they frequently receive and share misinformation and even outright falsehoods, a lot of it coming from foreign-based troll farms.
So, if you want fake news, you can find it in abundance on Facebook. But if you’d like to consume accurate news from reliable sources, there are plenty of places you can find it.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully respect the wishes of anyone who wants to use Facebook for whatever reasons. And in this time of “social distancing” necessitated by COVID-19, Facebook is a social interaction “lifeline” for millions of people whose primary desire is to stay in touch with family and friends while locked down at home.
My 88-year-old mother, all my sisters, and scores of nephews, nieces, cousins, and other relatives and friends, happily use Facebook nearly every day. Whatever works for you, as they say.
What works for me is to stay off Facebook. And that’s exactly what I intend to keep doing, so I can remain sane (or at least give it my best shot).
Trying to be the best writer I can be. Specialist in eclecticism. Retired corporate exec/retired military officer.