Delete Your Facebook Account: A Revolutionary Act

It never fails: I log on to Facebook to make sure that my weekly blog posted, quickly scroll down the first page, and a subtle yet pervasive feeling of emptiness washes over me. It’s the feeling that punctuated my middle and high school days as I fell prey to the pernicious belief that others who had more money and more stylish clothes were cooler than I was. I’ve long since left those days and beliefs behind, but something about the Facebook culture is oddly reminiscent of that adolescent stage.

Perhaps it’s because the foundation of Facebook is collecting as many “friends”, likes, and comments as possible and these numbers are blatantly displayed on everyone’s page like trophies. Or perhaps it’s because it’s an environment where people generally only show their best selves and fail to expose their shadows. Whatever the reason, I’m left with a negative feeling when I spend too much time there, a feeling that underlines the “not enough” mentality that permeates our culture. It’s the same feeling I used to have when I watched “Friends” or read People Magazine: the feeling that I want someone else’s life when the reality is that I love my life. It’s the feeling I have when I’m around image, fantasy, and half-truths.

The bottom line is that very few people – if anyone – tell the whole truth on Facebook. Most people present a skewed slice of their life which is inevitably their “best”, most polished self. This creates a fantasy world where the message is: Nobody struggles. Nobody questions. Nobody has anxiety. Nobody has depression. Nobody doubts. This message obviously belies the reality that millions of Americans are on anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants, but this reality isn’t depicted on Facebook. Which only leads to more anxiety and depression, more medication, and more misery.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear how many of my clients and ecourse members share my experience after being on Facebook. Women feel particularly horrible after a trolling through that dreaded virtual world as they are conditioned to “compare and despair”. Raised in an image-based culture that prizes the external qualities of beauty and style above all else as measures of self-worth, girls grow into women striving to prove themselves and fit in by being “perfect” and achieving in all ways. Facebook culture reinforces these negative beliefs and amplifies the illusion that everyone else has it all together: they’re more attractive, have better looking partners, better clothes, have traveled more, have better jobs, make more money, etc, etc ad nauseum.

So why do they continue to look? It becomes a habit, and habits are hard to break. They tell themselves lies like, “What if so-and-so won’t be able to connect with me?” or “What if I don’t hear about the latest social gathering?” Facebook is easy to access and it offers the illusion of connection, a dangling carrot of a momentary high as you log on and search for… what? An escape from reality? A tidbit of gossip? Stop for a moment and ask yourself what you’re really receiving from it.

The easiest way to break a habit is to remove the object of allure. If you want to stop eating sugar, don’t have it around. If you want to stop checking your iPhone every five minutes, turn it off or leave it at home (gasp!). And if you want to stop hanging around the Facebook lounge, delete your account. If you can’t access it at the click of your fingers, you simply won’t go there anymore. It’s as simple as that.

Despite how blasphemous this may sound, it’s entirely possible to do it. This post was actually inspired by one of my clients, a highly sensitive and intelligent twenty-two year old graduate student, who recently deleted her Facebook account. She said she’s so much happier without Facebook in her life, and that many of her friends, also highly sensitive and devoted to their studies, have deleted their accounts as well.

“I see it happening more and more among my peers,” she said.

“Really? That’s surprising and inspiring.”

“Yes. We just realized how bad it made us feel and we decided to delete it. I have a friend overseas who asked how he’ll communicate with me now and I said, ‘Just send an email!’ I know that people plan social gatherings through Facebook, but I figure that if they really want me there, they’ll find another way to let me know.”

Yes, it’s true: the world existed before Facebook. People have communicated and planned social gatherings for thousands of years without Facebook. I know it might feel like you’re disconnecting from the human race by deleting your Facebook account, but if you’re not.

And imagine what you could do with all of that free time! Imagine what creative endeavors or interesting ideas have been sucked into the vortex of Facebook! I’m not suggesting throwing away your computer or mobile device, but I am encouraging you to consider how you use your digital gadget: Is it a way to escape and avoid or is it a tool for expression and learning? I know there is value in Facebook, especially when people use it as a resource for social action or spread the word about their work and creative endeavors, but if you sit down and ask yourself if the value outweighs the misery, what is your answer?

96 comments to Delete Your Facebook Account: A Revolutionary Act

  • CER

    I agree with this 100%, and would add on instagram. I had facebook in college and deleted in about 2 months after I graduated because I saw how it affected my mood. I would be jealous of people attending parties I KNEW I did not even want to go to! I also downloaded instagram a few months back and deleted it shortly after for the same reason. It only shows a small bit of the whole picture.

  • RTP

    Wow, so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who feels like this. I almost felt like it was because of my own insecurity that I didn’t engage on facebook. This post helps me to value my choice not to FB rather than judge it. THANK YOU!

  • Tod

    I had a facebook account set up for two weeks, basically to follow websites such as this and others I follow, to see if the content were the same or different. I’m a HSP male and I’ve seen the devestation caused by misuse of facebook and will never, ever, set up another account. I’m glad to hear that people are deleting it and getting back to their own important lives.

  • Sarah

    I relate to those feelings of “everyone else is happier/more put together than me.” Especially during my engagement anxiety, I couldn’t even go there…it seemed like every engaged couple was floating through with 100% confidence and ease. I still use Facebook, but will not rule out deleting it if it became an issue. Most of my activity is with people that I see in my everyday life anyway. I do try to stay mindful as I browse though…whether it’s telling myself, “They certainly seem as if they have it all together, but I know they’re human too,” or taking a minute to browse old pictures with my friends, or taking a deep breath and moving away from a “facebook argument. Good post. And, I’m sure, very relevant to most people who read this site.

  • MW

    I did this! Several months ago I deleted my facebook account after going through exactly what you described in this post for… longer than I’d care to admit. I truly feel so much happier and MORE connected to people in my life, not less. True, I no longer know what is going on with many great people who I was at one time close to… people who are wonderful and I value but they are also people who I have no connection with anymore for one reason or another. Letting go of keeping tabs on everyone and of the constant comparison and feeling of lack created so much more space in my life for the good stuff I was missing out on. I thought I would miss facebook and I am happy to say I don’t. Not even a little bit!

    • That’s so great to hear! I imagine that if more people deleted their FB account they would find that they didn’t miss it all. It really wasn’t that long ago that we all functioned perfectly normally without Facebook in our lives!

  • CrystalShephard ('Hands')

    I just had this come up this week ~ realizing I felt empty around it…. I even looked into the process…. apparently if you want to delete it, you have to fill out a request…you CAN’T just delete it. Weird, huh? But you can ‘deactivate’ it yourself ~

    I truly make an attempt to be very real on my FB because there is such a lack of realness in life in general…

    I may just deactivate my account and see how it goes….

  • Jay

    Caroline Sutherland just wrote “Direct Hit!: How Facebook Destroyed My Marriage and How I Healed”….facebook is causing tremendous fallout to many…FB is NOT soul-time, just another distraction that keeps people away from an authentic life. This vid tells why:
    Are Facebook, iPads and smart phones turning us into narcissistic zombies?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmTnLJ8usyI&feature=em-uploademail-new

  • Molly

    I deleted my account a few months ago (after 6 years) and feel so great about it! I identify with what you said completely. It was such a good move for me. Many are afraid to do it, but you can do it! It’s great! All that negativity gone in a whoooosh! Yay!

  • Phoebe

    Thank you for this, Sheryl. I value your guidance so much and this was very comforting to read. I’m inspired to take some time away from FB where checking updates & reading posts have created lots of misguided feelings of self-doubt. With so much gratitude!

  • Molly

    I agree, but as CER pointed out, it’s not just Facebook. The problem is pervasive throughout the web. Instagram and Twitter also make it seem as though every single person except me is out having a day of luxury, shopping for beautiful fabrics or sipping a foamy latte and nibbling on madeleines with their friends/boyfriends or in the airport off to Mexico for a last-minute winter vacation. Meanwhile I’m stuck at work, sometimes more than 40 hrs/wk, desperately trying to save every last penny. Blogs can be just as bad too, making it seem like the large majority of the population are thrift-store-treasure-finding, design-obsessed, layer-cake making, crafty goddesses who also just happen to be very talented writers and -bam! they land a book deal. I barely have the energy to make dinner or do the laundry at the end of the day, let alone repurpose a vintage dresser and write about it. I don’t mean to discredit all the hard work these bloggers do, but sometimes it all makes me want to crawl under a rock.

    • That was so incredibly well-said (and funny)! And I completely agree: the blogging world presents a skewed version of reality and it’s often most loving to steer clear. I LOVE this:

      “Blogs can be just as bad too, making it seem like the large majority of the population are thrift-store-treasure-finding, design-obsessed, layer-cake making, crafty goddesses who also just happen to be very talented writers and -bam! they land a book deal. I barely have the energy to make dinner or do the laundry at the end of the day, let alone repurpose a vintage dresser and write about it. I don’t mean to discredit all the hard work these bloggers do, but sometimes it all makes me want to crawl under a rock.”

    • Have you ever considered starting a blog?! You’re an excellent writer and you’re touching a nerve with what you’ve written here. Just a thought… : )

      • Molly

        Too funny! I would be the world’s grumpiest blogger, spreading my gloom and jealousy to readers far and wide. It is true though, that there is a surprising/discouraging lack of “real” on the internet; maybe I could fill that void with an overdose of it. I do understand and appreciate the need to keep things light and positive, but bombarding ourselves with so much of that definitely does not reflect the reality of life. Besides your website, I’ve found only a tiny smattering of others out there that present life in a somewhat real sense, and offer some support and encouragement for others struggling with all of the stuff that’s not so light and positive. A few posts on the Bloggess, RebuildHealthandHome, and APracticalWedding have suprised me with their poignancy and honesty. If you, or other readers have any suggestions for others, do let me know. Not that I need to be spending more time reading blogs!

        • You don’t need to spend more time reading blogs, but writing your own – YES! I love it. Spread your gloom and jealousy! Spread the shadow! The world needs it : ). You do realize that you have a gift, though, don’t you?

    • Molly, great comment! As Sheryl says, a negative doom and gloom, real blog would be refreshing!

  • KD

    But, Sheryl, if I delete my Facebook account, how will I ever know how many of my friends/aquaintances/random people I’ve met twice got flowers from their partner’s on Valentine’s Day!?!

    🙂

    I deactivated my account for two days last week and couldn’t believe how much more productive I was and how my real-life social network didn’t fall apart(shock/gasp!). Hoping to heed your advice and get off Facebook in the near future. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Cynthia

    I think, like most things, Facebook reflects back to us what we are struggling with already. I’m not sure any “thing” or forum can be blamed. I have to say that I feel incredibly lucky to have friends who do post on Facebook that they are hurting, struggling, needing support, etc. For them, I think it becomes an easy way to reach out. Even if it only starts a superficial community, it is a jumping off point for deeper community. I love getting to watch my friends’ kids grow and change, hearing my favorite writers talk about a current event, reading about an upcoming community event, etc. Hopefully, if we interact with Facebook at times where we can take it for what it is (a place where people are free to share and withhold themselves and their truths), then it can still be a place of connection.

    • As always, life isn’t a black-or-white situation, so there are invariably many people who have a positive experience on Facebook. My point is that if it feels bad and is triggering feelings of inadequacy or it becomes a time-and-energy-vampire, it’s okay to steer clear.

  • Ali

    Account deleted! I’ve been considering it for literally years now, and this article just reminded me of exactly why I need to for my own good. I typically feel nothing but envy or irritation when logging, and the people I’m connected to on Facebook I’m actually connected to in many ways, so I won’t be missing anything from the people in my life who matter 🙂

  • Sarah

    Beautiful post Sheryl! I’m doing my Master’s Thesis on Presentation of Self on Facebook, and looking at whether the selves we present online are our actual selves or whether they are ideal, ought or socially desirable selves. While I have not finished crunching the numbers yet, I am certain that FB puts unprecedented pressure on us to turn our lives into glorified timelines. Your Sabbath tradition of unplugging has brought me a great deal of peace and joy over the past weeks, and I can only imagine how good it will feel to disconnect my FB at the end of my project!

  • Andrea

    Hello Sheryl,
    As I was having some anxiety this past weekend, I was thinking the usual negative thoughts. Including the ideas of being alone with these thoughts and I could not help but wonder why no one seems to share these thoughts aloud. However, I came to the conclusion yet again that there is more than those of us on this site who struggle with relationship anxiety but why is it that no one talks about it? I agree that facebook puts a spotlight on such unhelpful behavior. Facebook is not the place for raw and tough emotions. No one mentions how challenging transitions can be and it is certainly not the place for real anxiety and depression. The facebook façade enables us from seeing a person’s true nature. What we see a short displays of emotions or simple thoughts and don’t forget the endless professional and beautiful pictures of weddings, vacations and such that leaving us feeling more isolated and more alone. I have resisted the temptations of comparison that facebook so easily does. In the past month I went from more than a hundred friends to just my family. I no longer want to compare my life to others. This is my journey and I refuse to allow myself to conjure up any more negative or anxious thoughts that lay dormant via facebook. Thanks again Sheryl for another wonderful post!

    🙂

  • Thank you for writing this! I am in the midst of writing a similar post about Facebook. Not necessarily encouraging people to delete it (though I have considered that myself). But more to consider that what you see on Facebook isn’t the whole story of someone’s life. For me it has been all too easy to compare myself to all those “happy people who seem to have it all together.” I have to constantly remind myself that Facebook is an illusion. So glad to hear others feel the same 🙂

  • Sophie

    Sheryl, I like facebook. I post inspirational quote about anxiety and what true love is really like on it. I use it to connect with other e-course members. I think it’s in how you use it. The best thing I ever did was cull my friend list down to the people I genuinely like and enjoy interacting with. I thought to myself ‘would I be ok with everyone I’m friends with on facebook seeing this?” and if the answer was no, well then I unfriended them. Simple as that- and who cares if there’s only 10, 50, 100 people on that list? I don’t because they are the people I care about and who care about me.

  • Marisa

    A year ago tomorrow I put up a notice on my FB page saying that I’d be giving it up for Lent – just 40 days. It was the greatest “fast” I had experienced because it opened up time and energy to devote to other things, and freed me of the doubt and jealousy I would nearly always feel after trolling my friends’ pages. I did sign back on after Easter, but I use FB less than I had and realize how much less concerned I am about how many pictures I post or places I “check into” after taking a hiatus. As always, your advice and observations are excellent and pertinent!

  • Selena

    I am an activist and instead of bringing me down I’ve found out that through my likewise activist friends around the world I can find out what is happening in places that I would never read or hear about in the news. It’s amazing. So that facebook wants to be something that makes you feel like you are a commodity, that is true but once you teach yourself to ignore those ques and befriend socially involved people it becomes a hub of priceless information. It makes the world a smaller place in a good way if you use it the right way. The anxiety you feel lies in you. You can’t choose the way the world is and what happens to you but you can choose how to handle it. That’s all about mastering your fear and not avoiding it by deleting your fb account, right?

    • As I wrote, I do believe that there is a positive aspect of FB. If you’re using it for connecting to social action, more power to you! It’s an individual choice, which is why I ended my post with: “I know there is value in Facebook, especially when people use it as a resource for social action, but if you sit down and ask yourself if the value outweighs the misery, what is your answer?”

  • Laura_m_b

    I completely relate to these feelings of inadequacy and comparason when on Facebook and I’ve come so close to deleting my account so many times, but the habit of using it and some insecurity of being out of the loop and detached always holds me back. I’m also really concerned about the constant privacy erosion and how it must be changing the way entire generations of people will now relate to each other, and if its making us grown up and intellegent adults feel bad about ourselves I can only imagine what it’s doing to our young people. This post has given me the final push to do it, thanks Sheryl. Your wise words are always so well timed 🙂 x

  • You’re welcome, Laura! I, too, wonder how sounds bites and skewed snippets of reality will alter the way that we relate to each other.

  • Jill

    This really hits home for me – I spend a LOT of time on there, unnecessarily. There are so many on my “friends” list who do nothing but brag – I mean, seriously BRAG and aside from making me feel inadequate, it’s downright annoying! After a while, I hide those sorts of people because I can’t stand to read all the drama or AHHHMAZING THINGS. What FB has been good for me is connecting with my sister who lives 6 hours away and meeting up with my running friends who are an hour from me. Yes, we could connect in other ways, but it’s a convenience thing more than anything. I also enjoy my friends who post interesting articles and thought-provoking pieces. However, I can take extended breaks, or only check X times per ___, which would give me a better work/life/internet balance.

  • kris

    Sheryl…I am soooo happy you wrote this. I completely agree with everything you said. I have been off Facebook for over three weeks now. It was hard at first, but now I’m realizing it’s not that important. I should not get caught up in what my “friends” are doing….instead I’m using my free time with the people who are truly important to me. Thank you for writing this!!!

  • Evangeline

    Thanks Sheryl. I just deactivated my account without thinking about it too much. What a relief!

  • TM

    Thanks Sheryl for your ever thoughtful posts. I have grappled with how to relate to Facebook ever since the summer of 2008 when I elected not to go to my 20 year class reunion but instead went on a vacation with my husband. When I came home from vacation, I had more than a 100 “Friend” requests all from people who I mostly had not seen or talked to in 20 years! It was like a nightmare that my whole graduating class had all discovered FB at the same time. (It was still a pretty new network back in ’08 and I was very new to FB. I accepted the friend requests and did not really know what I was getting myself into!)
    Anyway, now I mostly use it to stay in touch with some friends and family members who are distant to me or who I’d rather have a polite amount of distance from for various reasons and I have been slowly “unfriending” most of the DHS Class of 1988 and anyone else who I don’t really know or care to keep in touch with in a genuine way.
    That being said, along the way I’ve had some curious experiences with Facebook and some of them have been very negative. Like when at my monthly women’s gathering there was a conversation about FB and I elected to air my true feelings with a side of sarcasm saying, “I don’t like FB and I really don’t want to hear what everyone had for breakfast.” A woman in the group who had been a good friend of mine but who I had been growing apart from for some time decided to play a prank on me. The next day she had about 40 people post what they had for breakfast on my page. I did not see the humor in it but took it as malicious and bordering on bullying and I shared that with her in a private email. We eventually talked about the incident but I must say the whole thing was really the end of our relationship as we knew it and perhaps what little trust was left in the relationship was exhausted after that. I might add that this particular person vehemently disagrees with my opinions about FB and she uses it daily to broadcast her innermost feelings, activities, goals, etc and to garner support and atta girls from many a friend far and wide in her life ventures. I see many people using FB this way and it leaves me wondering about the intimacy factor here (or lack thereof) and also a question of emotional maturity. But it is easy to stand in judgement of FB and other’s use of it. How this brand of social networking largely leaves me feeling on the whole is disconnected, disenfranchised and critical of our abilities to truly connect with one another outside of the electronic forum with the wide audience or voyuer to respond to or gaze upon our publicly shared photos, posts and thoughts.

    • Thank you for this very thoughtful comment, TM. I’m appalled by what your “friend” did in response to your breakfast comment (how many times has my husband said the exact same thing!) and I agree that FB leaves most people feeling disconnected. The voyeur aspect is bizarre to me as well, but perhaps that’s because I’m an intense introvert.

  • Jodi

    Sheryl…I love your weekly articles and you bring up good points in this weeks, however, you are on FB and have a personal page, so I feel a bit as though your post is hypocritical.

    • Yes, Jodi, it is a bit hypocritical! However, I do think that Facebook can be used for business and social activism purposes, and that’s primarily how I use it. I limit my FB time to about five minutes a week (if that) and feel okay about it. My basic point is that if FB works for you, by all means continue to use it. But if it’s making you feel bad or is a time-suck, consider leaving it behind.

  • Sonya

    I have never HAD a Facebook account. Many of my friends, and even some employers I interviewed with looked at me like I had 3 heads… I really don’t lead THAT interesting a life anyway!

    Now, BUSINESSES have made excellent use of FB as a web presence alternative. Not all of them require that you have an FB account to print their coupons, so I trade with them a lot. The ones that DO require an account…? Oh, well…

  • Jodi

    Thank you for your response Sheryl. I agree with your sentiments.

  • Aimee

    What a timely article! This has been particularly bothering me this week. It’s nice to hear (as usual!) that I’m not alone. I’ve been debating deleting my account for the last month (particularly since spam on my FB page has been driving me CRAZY). The absolute WORST for me is when we see friends/acquaintances from church post pictures of parties/hang-outs that we weren’t invited to. My husband and I have been hanging back socially since we got married, so I realize we have done this to ourselves, but do you really need to post a photo every time you go out? Really? This results in me feeling bitter at church, of all places. Not a good thing… My strategy has been to hide people from my timeline and use FB to keep up with childhood and college friends and see pictures of their babies 🙂 I would not rule out deleting in the future. Anyway, thanks Sheryl!

    • Angela

      Hi Aimee (Love the spelling). So If you read my post I actually got rid of my FB for awhile and it did wonders! However I wanted to write you personally since your message struck close to home. I have been in a similar situation, or at least i feel like i relate to your post. I think juggling your marriage and time spent with your husband and other people (along with life it’s self) can always be weird for a while until you find what works for you. I have had a long term relationship, we took a “break” for a while b/c though we had been dating for so long we came across some different opportunities which lead to a cross roads of “who would compromise what”…. During this break I started attending a new church and met a lot of great people. I found myself making new friends and attending events etc. But my deep priority was always to figure out what me and my b/f were eventually going to decide. Beautifully we both came back with the same conclusion (I would rather be with you than peruse xyz). So my time and focus naturally changed from being out and about to mending and nurturing my relationship- i didn’t wan’t to be “exiled” (Dramatic word ha ha) I still wanted to be “invited” but slowly and surely all of that slowed down. I as well started to feel “bitter” and internalized a lot of it. I honestly was dealing with the same things.. the FB posts and pictures of other people, wondering why I was not invited, I knew I had my relationship back in my life and we spent a lot of time together but did it really have to be “like this”. I finally decided to do something about it. I know that having available community outside a relationship is healthy so I made some efforts in contacting a few girls that i had previously hung out with and started planning coffee dates or girls night, or one on one’s – whatever. I don’t think these girls ever thought they were leaving me out- I think they figured I was aways doing other things or wanted to spend time with my b/f. But once i started to get out, more photos of “me” from the girls nights and coffee dates started to appear on FB and the invites started coming back in. For me it was realizing I needed to show my desire to make time for them, and once I invested and showed people I was still a person they could count on, talk to, invest in, confide in etc they naturally started inviting me to things they used to. I think if are always seen as a couple than it can be hard for others. Ever know girls who were “BEST FRIENDS” in school and ALWAYS together- how often did you want to invite them to come over… I remember those girls and usually figured they just wanted to hang out with one another unless THEY decided other wise lol.
      ya know I kind of feel like people can try and play the ” I want to be respectful of people’s marriage’s” until they get a clear indication of what the couples boundaries are. Some couples invite people over all the time and have that “open door policy”- those people are more likely to be asked to hang out or have people pop over for a football game than a couples not like that. If you two stay in a lot they probably figure thats your preference. Maybe starting a game night, or a get together where you and your husband invite some people over will help people see that you want to do things with others. Actually, now thinking of it I had made a similar mistake! One of my girlfriends got married and I hardly thought she was available and figured she would most likely tell me when she was free, she finally texted me and said “Girl it’s been too long we need to have a get together” and boom . And now thinking even more so on the subject lol- I knew another married girl who i tried being close with and after canceling on me 3 times said these words “Well, my husband is my priority”- no apology for last minute cancelations, nothing – goes to show just how different people are!!!! She hardly goes out to do anything.
      Sooo, i feel like actions help bring a clearer picture to people when they have the wrong one.
      However, I do take a lot of time to look at my fiancé’s schedule and my own. If i know he is going to be at the gym saturday morning Ill do Brunch with someone, the nights he works evenings I plan on meeting a g/f. I also plan mine and his “date nights” (simply a more emphasized evening than all our others together ha ha) in the beginning of the month so we will won’t get mixed up. NOT saying you need to do all that lol- simply saying it’s been “my” way of finding balance between friends and my relationship (not to mention full time and work and part time school for my masters). So now when a group of people get together I usually get invited and the invite for my fiancé to join is there as well 🙂 I firmly believe these people will be more than happy to invite you- just show them you want to hang out, that your still the same person, maybe not AS available but STILL available! Don’t let bitterness take root my dear blog friend, these circumstances are completely changeable! This is all my “two cents” but Stay encouraged!
      Good luck and best of blessings.

      • Angela

        Aimee- Sorry for the typo’s! I just submitted and read it slowly! I am not wearing my glasses and the words on the screen started to look like one big blur and I kept going back to “rephrase” things and only ended up leaving out words or duplicating them ..uuugh- lol. Hopefully I made some sense 🙂

  • Marce

    Sheryl,
    Do you know Elisha Goldstein? He is a mindfulness therapist out of LA who wrote recently about one’s relationship with technology. Both his posts and yours have improved my life tremendously – all thanks in part to technology and being able to read your posts (for free! thank you!) – but it is the giving kind of online time! Thank you for sharing this.

    I couldn’t agree more with a commenter on here who said;

    <>

    I typically think that I love reading my blog line up – and then sometimes I will look up to my life again, after peering into my screen, usually in the dark, while watching TV, and think, “whew! where am I? where have I just been?” It is like a hypnotizing feeling, and shaking it off sometimes makes me feel anxious – like I have just checked out of my own life, and into someone else’s so intensely.

    I think I need to put up some more good boundaries about my use of technology/blogs, too. When I think back on “what was good today?” – almost none of it happened on the internet – unless it was something I learned, like from you, then applied to myself, and went on living my OWN life!

    Thank you so much for your posts.

  • Marce

    Whoops, it looks like the post from a fellow commenter didnt show up – it was this:

    ” Blogs can be just as bad too, making it seem like the large majority of the population are thrift-store-treasure-finding, design-obsessed, layer-cake making, crafty goddesses who also just happen to be very talented writers and -bam! they land a book deal. ”

    Amen, sister!!

  • Angela

    Sheryl your right on point (once again). The ice breaking moment for me was when my older sister told me she wanted a divorce and I was stunned. Everything on FB made it seem she had a happy wonderful marriage and family! That’s when I really started to recognize that I had this constant feeling that life wasn’t what is was “supposed” to be and usually found myself subconsciously comparing myself, my accomplishments and relationships.. The link between the the feeling and FB came pretty quickly and I decided to take a 30 day fast and “cleanse myself” of FB haha. After my 30 days away from the FB world it was astonishing that not only did i feel better but i didn’t want Facebook back. One month turned into 2 , 2 into 4, 4 into 8 and after 13 months (over a year whoo hoo) I went without FB! On Feb of 2012 I reactivated my FB account simply due to the fact that it’s truly the “best” way for me to keep in contact with family and friends. Or to at least know whats going on with them lol. The difference from then and now is I check FB much much less and have not been sucked into the comparing – my perception of FB has changed so much that even though I have been back on for a year now I simply don’t feel how I used to. So everyone who has thought about deleting it, I right along Sheryl encourage you to do it! Its worth it!! 🙂
    P.s My sister and her husband worked on things and are still married ! Yay!

  • Andrea R.

    Sheryl: Thank you for encouraging dialogue on this issue. I have never had a FB account and do not plan on having one. While I agree that there are definite benefits to FB, I feel mostly unsettled about what it represents to me: unsafe vulnerability.

    We are vulnerable when we put ourselves out there in a dishonest way – as folks do when they brag about/distort/skew their reality – creating cognitive dissonance which wreaks havoc on our inner world and creates superficial relationships. We are even vulnerable when we put ourselves out there in an honest way to others who cannot celebrate that genuine expression. Critics’ discomfort with their own raw truth then turns into judgement which leads to negativity/aggression/bullying. Suddenly the person who shared what they considered to be benign information is now on the defense…and few can resist the urge to engage in a debate about who is right and who is wrong. So much of this “noise” becomes unnecessarily toxic.

    To me, FB seems like a form of journaling which can be therapeutic and cathartic no doubt. However, a journal is not meant for the eyes of others…it is for the ‘self’ and intended for exploration and growth. I wish people would ask themselves before they post on FB or read someone else’s post “what is my real motivation for sharing/reading this information?” If the answer is related to some form of well-being and growth, then the intention is good and will most likely produce good outcomes. If not, then…well…does every single opinion or detail of a day need to be out there?

  • Rose

    People need to do what is best for them. Facebook means different things to different people. I find it to be a wonderful way to connect with friends and family around the country. Furthermore, not every connection with others is necessarily deep. I enjoy it immensely….lots of fun!

    • I agree, Rose. The title is a bit forceful (unusually so for me) but if you read the full article you’ll see that I fully support people doing whatever is best for them.

  • LL

    The word that comes to mind is “boundaries”. Like with everything else (work, relationships, food, money, etc) boundaries seem like a helpful way to manage Facebook. Putting limits on time spent, how much you post, and who you “friend” can be a really great way to maintain a healthy relationship with Facebook. This way, you can get the best of it without dwelling on the worst of it. Also, keeping in mind that people only put their better moments on Facebook, and not the whole story, helps me remember not to compare myself to others, and instead focus on embracing my own ups and downs. Thanks for your enlightening posts as always, Sheryl!

  • Christy

    I so appreciate this. While I don’t feel down most of the time, I do whenever I see two people in particular who post their pics of their “perfect” appearing lives. It’s nauseating really. Funny thing is I’ve considered deleting my account for a few months now because it steals too much of my time and is too much of a distraction for me. My husband and I were talking about this yesterday. I like one of our members who consciously and purposefully created a fictitious name so she could remain in contact with like minded friends 😉 I’m considering doing the same with the intention to only fill my “feeds” with positive and uplifting “information”. I love whoever had the courage to delete her account and set the expectation for friends that if you want me around, you’ll find a way to get in touch with me – couldn’t agree more!!!

    Facebook for me had replaced genuine connection with people and has turned into a way to create superficial friendships. I’m not okay with that anymore. I might bring this up in our forum where I will get support 🙂

  • RPeli

    Just deleted my Instagram account this morning and working in limiting my time spent on fb and other such websites, in an effort to work on my internal connection. Thanks for the reminder Sheryl

  • amaryllis

    I totally agree with you Sheryl. Among my group of friends it seems like we were trying to show off and compete for the trophy for “who has the most exciting life” contest. I quickly found myself comparing my experiences with friends and I felt like a loser for not going out as much as my friends. I became jealous of others and felt more and more sadness when I was went on my Facebook account. I also did not like the fact that it made it easy for people I dislike to find me. I didn’t want to feel obligated to keep in touch with people I don’t care to include in my life so I deleted it about a year after creating my account.

  • Scottish Bride

    How interesting that this comes up just now. I found that I was using Facebook a lot more after a recent holiday (i think i had post holiday blues) so what I did was delete the app from my iPhone two weeks ago. What a difference! I still check it now and then but I feel I am in control of the situation now (whereas I was definitely not before). I will certainly NOT be going on Facebook tomorrow – the Valentine’s Day Show is way too much for me! Facebook really can bring out the worst in people! On that note, on Valentine’s Day my husband and I are going across to our eldery neighbour’s for dinner – we refuse to get drawn into the pressure of it all and would far rather spend quality time with someone who needs it than sit and snap photos of ourselves at an expensive restaurant drinking champagne!

  • Susan

    I can’t imagine deleting my FB account at this point. Just from doing Inner Bonding now for two years, when I feel the anxiety come in, that is my signal to get off the computer and do something else that is more creative or physically energetic. I believe these social media sites have some great value. It helps me connect to my family around the country and old friends as well. I just minimize my use of it and understand that when I do feel the anxiety, I am probably looking for something outside of myself in that moment and that is my signal to disengage from FB. There are other sites that are just as problematic like Instagram (photos only posted there) and Pinterest (bulletin boards you create yourself), but they too have value especially for those who have a creative side.

  • Mary

    Sheryl – I agree with you 100% on the issue of Facebook! I have a Facebook account, but I don’t post much on it. Your comments have just boosted my self-confidence because you have hit the nail on the head – people only show their “best” on Facebook. It is so very easy for people like me to feel “less than” after reading about people’s glamorous lives they display on their wall. I needed that reality check! Thank you!

  • Lisa

    Sheryl, I think the greatest contribution you have made here, especially by starting off with such a provocative title to which I was saying, “right on sister,” is that you have sparked an important conversation. You have asked us to take an honest look at how we use FB (if at all) and whether this use enhances or undermines our lives. Clearly we all have pretty intense, complex feelings on this, so I appreciate having the lid blown off! I love hearing all the different points of view, especially from people who enjoy FB and/or have found ways to reap benefit from it. I come from the extreme point of view that I HATE FB and actually don’t even quite get it. I find it pretty boring, reading other’s posts, seeing where they shop, what new pinterest board they created, that they “like” Amazon. More and more it actually seems like a marketing and advertising place. Either that or the look how fantastic I am phenom. And I don’t really know how to promote or broadcast my own life onto it without it feeling contrived. I find it hard to believe that people would really want to keep up with the microscopic details of my life. When there is something more exciting or fun to post, it feels like it would be bragging. So, like I said, I don’t get it. That said, I have been trying to figure out how to include it in my life, since I actually feel excluded from modern society by not being FB savvy and aware. That’s different…feeling inadequate, insecure, and jealous because I DON’T use Facebook! So now, in a perfunctory way, I check it when I check my email. Mostly it’s like sifting through junk mail, but every now and then, I find something I genuinely do “like” or want to comment on or a link (like this one) that seems worthy of actual attention. Thank you for opening the conversation. I think it is an important one and for those of us with children, something we need to know about and be conversant in so that we can steer our young people in the right direction. Bravo for your radical suggestion!

  • Kat

    Yes! I recently read a new study where users who used Facebook often felt less appreciative of their own lives and often experience anxiety and depression…so that would only make sense why my anxiety and depression gets worse every single time I go on Facebook. I find myself comparing my life to others’ lives and feel very sad and depressed. Once the majority of my friends have gotten engaged and married and I’m still waiting I find myself going into a deeper and deeper anxiety. I don’t think I would feel this way if it hadn’t been for constant Facebook updates and pictures…what others’ relationships “look” like and how they are different from mine. It’s like recipe for disaster for me. So I may not delete Facebook right at this moment, but I certainly am going to use self-control and only use it every once and a while. I’d much rather use Pinterest! 🙂

  • Rebecca

    I totally agree that Facebook envy is a dangerous thing, especially when we’re feeling vulnerable or sad. But I have to say that in my experience with FB, I’d be losing so, so much if I deleted my account. In the past few months, yes, some of my friends have posted things that have tempted me to compare myself to them and feel envious, resentful, and sad about myself–however, because I know FB can be that way, I also know I can skip right over the updates from those people and skip ahead to those that fill me with love and connection. I’ve actually found that the more open and vulnerable about my imperfections, worries, and fears, the more my friends race toward me with love, support, prayers, and offers of help–and I notice that when others do the same, their friends respond the same way. Just last week, I learned 15+ suggestions to give a feverish child medication when she kept spitting it out and her mom reached out to her FB friends for help. This week, I found an elementary school friend I’d been searching for for three years and now we’re planning to get together in person. I received a multitude of kitchen appliance recommendations by simply asking in my status update, I’ve been able to keep in touch easily with many more friends I truly care about than I could ever keep up with on the phone, and I have been able to share wonderful moments in friends’ lives–silly things, like adorable things one of their kids did that was such an in-passing moment, that I might not have heard of it otherwise. Plus all the things people post daily that make me laugh out loud (and one can never have too much laughter!) that I wouldn’t have ever run across without being on Facebook. People can be cruel on FB, people can brag, and can, unintentionally, show bits of their lives that make me very, very jealous–but to throw out the inspiration, laughter, connection, and easy window into the lives of people I care about, would be such an incredible waste to me. I know not everyone’s FB friends are as open, caring, supportive, and willing to show their flaws as mine are–but I think that’s more about who we choose to be friends with. I have some friends who post that they don’t understand why everyone on FB is so mean–and all I can think of is that I wonder who they chose to be their friend, and why they’re keeping those friends around, since I know for sure that when the friends I keep around are the kind who are loving, inspiring, supportive, and kind and I keep an eye out for the places where I feel vulnerable and avoid days where I don’t want to read others’ posts (like Valentine’s day when I’m single) or people’s wedding and baby pics when I’m feeling like crap I’m not in their situation, then I skip those–or, at the very least, scroll down until I find posts from friends that make me happy, or posts I can contribute to in a way that helps someone else or makes us all laugh. I think, just like living in the world, where we could be jealous of everyone if we chose to, our environment on FB is what we make of it. If we have friends we feel bad around, it’s time to either stop looking at their posts or delete them. Yes, for some, getting off FB alltogether might be the right thing to do, but I just want to put it out there that FB can also be a portal to great connection, love, inspiration, unlimited resources, and a booster of confidence, if we choose our friends well and if we are willing to put ourselves out there to be loved and supported and to do the same for our friends when they need it. Obviously everyone will do what’s right for themselves, and a lot of people do feel very alone when judging their real self against their friends’ FB selves, but I wouldn’t want anyone to feel any pressure to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ so to speak–as FB does have the ability (if we use it well) to add quite a bit of love, support, connection, and confidence to our lives, if we make it a point to use it that way and get rid of anyone on our friend list who’s not helping us to do that.

  • Pie

    Hi Sheryl! I so idolize you and really love ur blogs and i loooove alanis and i so agree with this. I’ve been always deactivating my account if i realize the wasted time and migraine it caused but being in a big family with monthly bday celebrations and so many more annoying celebrations, im forced to activate again for my son’s pictures – connection to relatives and whatever i think i have to. But i’m so against it. i just hate seeing my unemployed sisters so into fb with their messy toddlers around, and when their eyes are off the laptop, they still talk and backbite friends in fb. When their kids get sick i really tell them straight to lessen fb but they don’t and get mad. i just don’t understand how they consume their spare times with fb instead of doing more productive and sensible things. Now, as a community relations officer in work, i was asked to make an fb account for the company for marketing purposes whatsoever. glad i was able to let anybody else do the updates and all. i don’t like the feeling of getting connected and involved with everyone around. I wish i can delete my personal account for good and won’t be able to activate it again. Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

  • Mangala

    Great post, Sheryl, and thanks for speaking out against what seems to be this unquestioned social phenomenon. A couple years ago, I got off FB and blogged about the reasons I did it, and it has been the ONLY post on my blog with so many comments, that to this day continues to get hits! Just goes to show how many people seem to be feeling pressurised to just keep up with the Joneses even if it feels bad. This was my post: http://keeptryst.blogspot.in/2009/02/why-i-left-facebook.html

  • Thank you for chiming in here, Mangala, and for sharing your incredibly insightful and thoughtful blog post. I encourage all of you to read it.

  • Years ago, when I first started my meditation practice, it occurred to me that if I could change one thing about myself, I would let go of what Buddhists call “comparing mind” — that tendency to compare ourselves with others, compare this experience to other experiences, compare what I have or want with what others have or want. The MBA students in my coaching groups at Stanford talk about a related things that crops up for them: FOMO (fear of missing out). Those both come from a sense of lack.
    While I embrace the idea of choosing not to spend time on Facebook (I have a Facebook account, but hardly spend any time at all on it), is Facebook really the issue? Maybe instead Facebook a great tool for self-awareness. What about simply paying attention to the moments when you feel drawn (or even compelled) to spend time on Facebook, and when you notice yourself doing it, checking in to see how you are, asking what your Inner Child really needs, and providing that to yourself?
    I saw someone wearing a t-shirt at the gym about 6 months ago that said, “May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.” I don’t know whether other people are pretending that their life is awesome, but I certainly wish all beings everywhere to live in love and delight. And that begins with self-acceptance and self-love.

    • I agree with everything you’re saying, but with the myriad ways that are culture encourages comparisons, a loving action could be to disengage from one of them altogether. For my clients who choose to deactivate their Facebook account, they invariably feel happier, lighter, and more at ease. So, no, I don’t think that Facebook is “causing” the feelings of inadequacy or emptiness any more than Oreos are the issue for a sugar-addict, but it certainly makes it a lot easier not to eat sugar when Oreos aren’t around!

  • Prasanthi

    I never have had a facebook account. Mosto f my friends and relations wanted me to have. But i didn’t feel like & i’m so happy without it. Ihave my valued relationships still. I share my things with them calmly & silently. I feel so peaceful without exaggeration.

    Thank you

  • Katy

    i have never regretted deleting my facebook account last year , i do not miss it at all 🙂

  • Alex

    Sheryl,
    althought I’m here with you for half a year at least, this will be the first time I felt urge to comment on your post. Few ideas came to my mind while reading it and comments of other readers as well.

    First of all I would like to share with you one quotation I’ve heard some time ago and try to stick to it: no-one can make you feel, what you don’t want to feel, no-one can play with your emotions. It’s only your decision how you react to everything that happens to you. So, basing on that, bad feelings about content on facebook may only reflect and reveal ‘holes’ in your life, some unfulfilled dreams, low self-esteem etc. So instead of deleting the account ask yourself, what does it teach you, what one could take from that?

    The other thing is no-one really wants to show the ugly side of one’s life, in reality or on-line. So there’s nothing strange about the fact that we can only see smiling faces there. However I have friends who post some desperate comments on their walls – every time it happens I feel akward, since I wouldn’t expect something that intimate posted on the internet. That’s the only thing bothering me – how far one can go in opening boundaries and letting other people in to the territories, which should be hidden. It’s so easy, when you’re online.

    And the last idea – it is my decision, how I use fb. You can always hide stories of people, who publish ‘trash’. In this way ‘my’ facebook is positive, creative, informing about interesting events, with deep insights from people I respect. So, it’s everything about how one creates reality, if he/she will dare to erase a bit of this colorful world and not feel like he/she is missing something.

    I don’t say that the idea of deleting the account is bad – it depends what works for you. I just wouldn’t blame fb for our bad feelings, since everything is in us already.

    Still, Sheryl, thank you for the post – I’ll think more of how I use my account 🙂

  • Scottish Bride

    I’m still thinking about this and I would like to add that I deactivated my account a few weeks ago, and that act itself felt very negative to me. I re-activated it a few days later for a friend to get a photo and I’ve kept it going. I do agree that Facebook is unhealthy in lots of ways. But I also think that deleting accounts all together is not really the answer. It’s hiding away from the cause by taking away the trigger. Maybe instead of deleting, we should get better at looking at why we use it, how it makes us feel and why we feel that way, and most importantly, how we can help ourselves to get beyond that and learn to take it for what it is 🙂

    • SB: I always appreciate your thoughts and thoughtfulness, so thank you for sharing again. My bottom line belief about Facebook is that it’s about intention: if you’re using it as a way to escape, numb out, deny, or avoid and more often than not you feel empty and deflated after being there, it’s likely a loving choice to let it go. However, if you’re using it as a way to connect, give, serve, or feel inspired and you feel happy and filled up after being there, it’s likely a very loving choice to continue using it.

      My title is definitely extreme but the point of my article is to look consciously as the entire Facebook experience and invite people to consider if it’s a blessing or a curse in their lives. The answer, of course, will be different for everyone, and possibly even different on different days depending on intention.

  • SB: I’ve had more thoughts about this and realized I neglected to discuss a key element to this discussion. We can say that no one can “make” you feel negative, and I do believe this is true, but if you’re a highly sensitive person you’re going to be significantly more sensitive to energy than most people. This means that there are situations that are inherently negative and depleting and, unless you’re the Dalai Lama, you’re going to absorb that energy. For example, I haven’t watched the news in years because it invariably leaves me feeling hopeless and depressed. Someone could say, “That hopelessness must live inside of you; the news isn’t the problem,” and, while that may be true, I’m not an enlightened being and I believe that it’s a loving choice to remove myself from situations that don’t feel loving and present a skewed perspective. When I don’t want the news, I don’t feel hopeless or depressed, so to me it’s a no-brainer to leave the news out of my life. (And highly recommend that action if you’re an HSP).

    Now, while FB isn’t the news, I do believe that it presents a skewed perspective and, if you’re an HSP, you’re going to sensitive to the general energy of the place. Again, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but for many of my clients they’ve felt much better since limiting their FB time and focusing their energy in other places.

  • Ashley

    Jumping into the conversation a bit late here. Instead of deleting or deactivating my account, I blocked the website from my computer (thank you You Tube for showing me how to do that!). This prevents me from going back to the trouble of unblocking it. It’s a few more steps than simply deactivating… and WOW. How many times a day have I had the urge to “see what’s going on out in the world.” I’ve found myself thinking… “let’s see what others are doing… so I can compare my life to theirs.”

    It’s been amazing to become aware of my intentions.

    I am struck with fear of “what if I don’t know what’s going on with others?”; “What if I don’t ‘feel’ connected… will I grow lonely?”

    It’s been a week, and I must say that while it has been painful to not be “plugged in” it also has freed me up to just be… to just be with my thoughts and feelings. I can’t escape into the “digital world.”

    Funny enough, my phone is very boring now, and I find myself turning to my school work instead. I find myself asking, “what will feed my soul today?”

    For me, that’s at the heart of the matter. What will nurture my soul> The internet is not the answer, just as much as it wasn’t the answer during my engagement anxiety, trying to find the right solution to taking the pain away.

    Thank you Sheryl for the suggestion. It’s bold and a very brave thing to do!

    • Thank you for jumping in, Ashley. I love this:

      “Funny enough, my phone is very boring now, and I find myself turning to my school work instead. I find myself asking, “What will feed my soul today?””

      That’s really the question, isn’t it?

  • Sheryl, thank you so much for putting into words (in your post and all follow up comments) so much of what I have felt about FB for years.

    I continually find that reducing the overstimulation and disconnect from all social media/media in general, is a crucial piece of healing for my highly sensitive clients and parents seeking to be fully present with their children.

    I hear very clearly that you are not being dogmatic and truly support everyone in finding what works for them…what you are doing is what you always do, shining the light on a very important issue to help us be truly conscious in our journeys and reconnect to full aliveness…which is why I so appreciate you and your voice 🙂
    Much love and gratitude to you!!

  • Sarah Kate

    Hi Sheryl

    Another great post! I love reading your blog and have referred so many people to it. You have so much insight, you are an inspiration to me.

    I keep my FB account as I live far away from a lot of my family and friends, and I love seeing pictures of my nephews and friends kids as they grow and change – facebook is the best way for me to do this. I also use it as a means to raise awareness about things that are important to me – mental health issues, grief, loss. But it’s a love-hate relationship for me. My partner and I lost our only son, and we have not had any other children. Although I love seeing my my friends’ children grow, sometimes it’s so painful to watch. The hardest part is people’s comments, so offhand, careless and thoughtless. I agree that everyone presents the most polished part of their world on FB, and it is at direct odds with who I need to be, be it on FB, at work, at home – my own authentic self. I don’t hide things and I don’t pretend all is well when it is not. Very few of my FB friends seem to feel the same! I once shared a blog post from here on accepting death and let me tell you it went down like a lead balloon. I think everyone in my FB world thinks I am a bit of a downer, but well, I don’t care!I guess I’m just trying to balance out all rubbish with some reality.

    After reading this, though, I might think more seriously about deleting my account. Time to assess what it really does for me! Thanks again Sheryl.

    • Thank you, Sarah Kate, for your heartfelt comment – and my heart breaks for your loss. I know exactly what you mean about the reaction to your post on accepting death: People seem to shudder when I post anything real on Facebook but they up in droves when I post photos of our kitten. Personally, I’d love to read your post on accepting death. Can you send me link or post it here?

  • Scottish Bride

    Sheryl – I love that we can discuss such thought-provoking, topical matters in a safe and respectful environment. I almost feel like I am back in my old University café with all of you, hot chocolate in hand.

    My next two cents: I fully agree that people should be mindful of the time they spend on Facebook (which is why I’ve recently deleted the app from my phone – I was on it more than I was comfortable with). It can be very draining, addictive and unhealthy.

    Being HSP myself, I also agree that one shouldn’t over expose themselves to distressing triggers. For you it is the news. For me, I cannot cope with seeing animals in distress so I meticulously avoid books/magazines/documentaries/films etc that might have that content. My husband knows how badly these things affect me too so he is very careful with what I might see/read around the house. Just the other day I caught the tail end of a documentary on Africa and a baby Elephant was dying and he came home to find me wailing in the middle of the living room. Cue about 5 hours of me shaking and crying and hating this cruel, cruel world.

    I guess for me however, Facebook is a different type of energy drainer. Yes, I feel down if I’ve been on it regularly (comparing my life to others etc.) but for me I’ve recently realised that this comes from childhood insecurities, my never-ending quest for perfectionism, my wounds about Fairytale Love (but wait – these people are saying that it might actually exist – I mean look at their lives – perfect – I want that!!!) and worst of all (here comes the Shadow) my rather ugly competitive streak and the good old green-eyed monster.

    These are all sides to me that, thanks to Facebook (and of course other things) I can identify. I see this as a good thing as well as a bad thing. Being able to identify these flaws in my thinking gives me an opportunity to work on them. As hard as it is, I would rather know my Shadow. I want to hear my Inner Child when she is spiked by something she reads on Facebook. For me, I must try and work on those insecurities rather than run away from them. I don’t want to be like these people on Facebook. To be different, I must see what is wrong with it and try and change it, at least for myself.

    I can see a distinction between the negativity I feel from Facebook and the negativity I feel from cruelty to animals. I believe I can work on the first so that I can become a better person, whereas I agree that there is no self-improvement that can come from me ever exposing myself to the latter. I recognise however that everyone is different and has different levels of tolerance for different things. Someone might not be too affected by dying elephant babies (argh… seriously though it was traumatic) but more affected than me by Facebook.

    Thanks for letting me join in this discussion!

    • Beautifully, thoughtfully, sensitively, honestly expressed, SB! As always, your ability to articulate these difficult realms is extraordinary, and I love that you’ve joined this discussion.

      This is what comes to mind. Let’s take the client that I based this article on: She’s a young woman in graduate school and surrounded ALL THE TIME by others who seem “cooler” than her and have it all together. She’s closer to the adolescent stage than you or I and the wounds are still fresh. In other words, she has plenty of opportunities to address these shadow aspects of herself, and she’s doing just that. For her, deleting Facebook was a very loving act, and opened up her time and energy for other activities, like attending meditation and yoga classes. So for her, deleting her account wasn’t about running away from difficult areas of her psyche but about recognizing that she has plenty of areas that trigger this part of her in real life and real time and she doesn’t need one more.

      As always, these decisions are so individual and depend on many factors!

  • Tanya

    I love love love this idea Sheryl. I wanted to share this quote from an article about an artist i like called Mirka Mora – “I don’t participate in the internet, but I know it’s marvelous. Technology my save us, but why do we want to be saved?” It sort of sums up the bipolar feelings I share with your blog article about this – some aspects of technology are very very good at uniting us as a global community, which is important so that we are not isolated – BUT at the same time it distances us from reaching out to eachother in tangible ways and creating real community. In some ways, the ‘old days’ of snail mail speak of a time of solid, valuable connections and real interactions, without the ego wondering how many people ‘liked’ such a letter :). So why do we need to be saved is a good question – exactly what are we sacrificing in order to have this marvelous technology? And if we can’t integrate the ‘new’ without sacrificing the old, is the payoff really worth it? I have been inspired to write more letters and to re-evaluate the effect of the digital world to my psyche. Thankyou!

  • Liza

    I love this post, and in fact, just permanently deleted my account!

    Another site I am wary of is Pinterest. Some people are able to use it in a healthy way, like collecting great recipes and craft ideas. I look at it and see a collection of perfect clothes, perfect meals, and the overall perfect aesthetic that, let’s face it, neither I nor any mortal will ever achieve. Molly’s comment about the the imagined latte-sipping, vintage-dress-repurposors is SPOT ON when it comes to Pinterest, in my experience.

    I’ve learned it is much healthier for me to remove the trigger, regardless of whether I think I *should* be able to handle the resulting emotions. (“I shouldn’t compare myself to others, should be strong enough to not care, etc.”) The perfect analogy is my not being able to keep ice cream in my freezer – if it’s there, I’ll eat it for dinner, so I just don’t make it available to myself.

    • “I’ve learned it is much healthier for me to remove the trigger, regardless of whether I think I *should* be able to handle the resulting emotions. (“I shouldn’t compare myself to others, should be strong enough to not care, etc.”)”

      I’m with you : ).

  • Lisa

    Nice Blog!

    I haven’t used Facebook in almost 2 years!! I have never been more happy and successful. Like one person said, when you do not use it, you focus your time on more productive work! I achieved a 4.0 GPA, 2 scholarships adding up to almost $5,000 (counting when I renew them), nominated for another university scholarship, and will probably be accepted to the competitive nursing program (for a bachelors) which only has 40 spots while getting around 200 applicants!!! I’m also very good with people (people like me actually MORE than when I used FB!) and work at the college and can get recommendations from numerous professors and from my bosses!

    I HIGHLY recommend considering logging out of Facebook and seeing the dramatic change from not only how you felt when online, but how much you actually DO things! You stop just “talking” or “reading” about small, insignificant, meaningless things to actually DOING the things!! AND much better things at that!!

    Imagine how productive the world would be if everyone logged out of FB and focused more on D O I N G than talking, reading, ect… It would be profound!! The pride from achieving outside of FB is so much more fulfilling than being plugged in onto a meaningless website. Just look at my example! Good luck!!!!! LOG OUT!!!

  • Kendal

    I just had a very neat experience! For months I had been going back and forth on the idea of deactivating my facebook account, because I realized how it made me feel (inadequate, annoyed, unhappy) So I finally did it just moments ago, but wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Then I checked my emails and it led me to this site, and I feel completely reassured like it was meant to be! 🙂 Thanks Sheryl.

  • A friend just commented on my blog with the link to this post! So glad I found it, as I recently wrote about this very thing. It’s totally junior high, as you say, all over again. I teach high schoolers and it’s crazy how the online world affects young girls. They always say they are depressed. It’s really nice to see all these comments and know we are not alone!

  • Amber

    I am so glad i found this site i have a lot of common situations like these ladies on here,i’m a 30 year old mother of two kids just recently i applied for college majoring in fine arts because i love to draw and paint i promised myself i would not be on f/b for no more than a half and hour a day but every time my half an hour was up i would make excuses to stay on longer.which wasn’t good because none of my work was getting done but the minute i closed my page down i could focus more and my grades were going up .its been 4 months scence i been off f/b and i feel so much better without it .i can focus more on my life and not get caught up with anyone else life and negative drama

  • farji bhai

    after using it for 6 years I have finally deleted my facebook account. I am so happy its out of my life. I think the bad in it outweighs the good in it if any.

  • In my case,being popular within my circle was the only thing that annoyed me the most.Posting and sharing my daily activities, allowed many to think they had the rights to invade my space and personal life.I made a decision to delete my account a year ago, and I chickened out.But I finally did so yesterday,I just had to after all that misery I went through with people.It’s just becoming too personal I guess.Invasion of one’s privacy and people obsessed with you,what you post and how you live your days.I couldn’t take that anymore.

  • suzie

    Hi, I just recently deactivated my account 5 days ago,I feel so refreshed without it! I have too many Facebook stalkers,who say nothing to me online, yet if they see me shopping or just out, bring up everything that I have ever said on my postings, I find it so very creepy, and my life is my life, I’m not alive for anyone’s personal entertainment, I just hope that after a few months people forget about me,,,,,, I admit it I have f’d up on Facebook,,,, I’m so done with it