I left Facebook exactly two years ago: December 1, 2014.
A month and a half later, I wrote about my reasons for leaving on Culture Glaze. And several months after that, I began the Facebook-free interview project on the blog to feature other people who have also left Facebook.
So what does it feel like now?
Honestly, it feels fantastic.
I don’t want to imagine what my life would look like today if Facebook were still a part of it. You see, the on-the-surface difference between then and now is that I have removed Facebook from my life. I don’t think about it; it doesn’t have a place in my days.
Underneath the surface, my mind has all this space for thoughts, creativity, and reflections. It’s clearer, more focused, and relaxed — reminiscent of how I felt when I walked the Camino. My mind is not bombarded with thoughts of others, of companies, or of news outlets vying for my attention.
I recognize that I have control over what I see and think, and I’m so much more mindful of these choices. I choose where my energy goes.
For me, it all comes back to this quote by Gandhi, which struck me when I first heard it years ago, and which I return to again and again:
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
So I ask: Where do your beliefs come from? What sorts of things/people are impacting your thoughts each day?
Are you setting yourself up for the beliefs → thoughts → words → actions → habits → and values that will create the destiny you want?
We only have one life. It’s now.
And in my Facebookless life now, I’m not looking at highlight reels of other peoples’ lives, and thus I don’t experience the fear of missing out or the damaging feelings of comparing myself to others’ best sides.
Rather, I’ve been experiencing what it means to be human, and am seeing again and again that we absolutely cannot compare ourselves to others in the ways we often do. Life is so incredibly complex and intricate. Our situations and histories are unimaginably unique, and most of the stories we tell ourselves are inaccurate and incomplete.
One sentence, paragraph, website, or blog absolutely cannot define a person. There is so much more going on behind the scenes.
I’m a writer who values the written word. Yet despite my snail mailing, blogging, and texting, my primary mode of connecting during these past two years has been face to face. Nothing can replace the tone and emotion in someone’s voice or a friend’s laughter. Likewise, nothing can replace a smile, a grimace, a wink, an eye-roll, or any other facial expression and body language.
I find these in-person interactions much kinder, meaningful, productive, and connective. (It’s no wonder research has found door-to-door canvassing an effective way to open minds to other points of view.)
Ninety-nine percent of the time when I’m alone with my computer or phone, nothing much changes. The internet has amazing reach and capabilities, but…
But when I’m in a setting with other humans — wow. That’s where the magic happens! That’s where real possibilities arise, where new ideas are born, where laughs and stories are shared, where nerves can heighten, where lifelong connections form, where energy is felt, and where your actions can really brighten days.
I’m learning more and more how special and valuable these shared moments are.
I can also appreciate moments in silence. I don’t have to grab for a phone to scroll while waiting. I practice staying present in the moment and appreciating the small things.
This is life, after all. These small moments make up the majority of our existence. It’s now. It’s this. So I’m striving to be there. To be here, to be present. To catch myself thinking about small worries and to replace those thoughts with appreciation for the humanity, creations, or nature around me. To consider what emotions others might be feeling. To act out of kindness, compassion, and understanding.
Meditation is helping me to cultivate this. (Thanks Daily Calm!) It’s nothing far-fetched, out of reach, or sacred. Meditation involves being in the moment. Being non-judgmentally aware of what’s going on in your mind.
And yet that simple practice is so powerful. Sitting and feeling the breath go in and out of your lungs is insane! I’m telling you. But we breathe all day long. We have breathed all day and all night since the day we were born, but when is the last time you took two minutes to stop and listen to it? To focus on the feeling of the air going in, and how it magically, smoothly transitions to an exhale. Breathe now and pay attention to the fleeting moment where inhale becomes exhale. Neat, huh?
And this all just happens. Now think of all the other organs hard at work inside your body. You don’t have to tell them to do anything, they know what to do to keep you alive. Do you keep these organs healthy? Do you treat them with love and kindness?
You see, these are the types of thoughts that have since entered my mind. It’s awesome.
So to sum it up — because I’m getting away from myself here — I’m happier because there’s little to no comparing (and when I catch myself doing so, I tell myself there’s much more to the story, I can’t compare. And then leave the site and get outta there!) I’m cultivating the beliefs and thoughts I want to have in order to live my values. I’m recognizing how meaningful in-person interactions are for me. Not to mention my data and personal information is no longer being sold and used to make profit for Facebook.
I cut out one thing to get much, much more.
Less is more.
If you know me in real life, this goes without saying, but it’s the internet, so: Nearly all of my friends and family have Facebook. This piece is a reflection on what I’ve personally gained since leaving Facebook, nothing more. Thanks for reading my words in this context of its intended self-reflection.