Wait, you’re not on Facebook?

April 12, 2012 § 7 Comments

Earlier this week I caught an awesome Biz Ladies/ Design Sponge post on How to Escape the Comparison Trap. Are you prone to the comparison trap? I fall into it all the time. I’m really good at it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read another blog or looked at someone’s event planning business and thought “Why can’t I be like them? I want what they have!” It’s really productive.

Luckily, I’ve gotten a bit better at stopping these thoughts in their tracks. They crop up from time to time, but mostly I’m able to dismiss them quickly, realizing they won’t accomplish anything, and that in reality, I’m very happy with my life. Becka, the girl who wrote the article, shares some great tips for paring down the online clutter in your life to actively keep from falling into the comparison trap. I follow most of her recommendations, but there’s one in particular I’ve really exercised to the maximum.  And that would be Facebook.

I’m not on it.

This wasn’t always the case. I joined Facebook during college and stayed on until December 2009. If you had asked me in late 2009 or early 2010 why I got off, I probably would have told you it was because I was studying for the GMAT. This was kind of sort of… ok really, not at all true. I said it anyway though, because I was afraid to be honest with people as to why I got off.  But the truth is, the reasons I got off have a lot to do with the comparison issues Becca talks about in the article. Facebook made me constantly compare myself to other people, and because of that, I always felt like I had to “prove” how great and fun my life was on it. If I was posting pictures, it was partially because I wanted to share the pictures with my friends, but also because I wanted it to seem like I had fun! I went out! My life was so great!

Along with the tendency to try and “prove my life,” I also felt like Facebook brought out some of my worst qualities. I can have a bit of a jealous and possessive streak, and by viewing other peoples profiles or seeing other’s activities on Facebook, I would get jealous of people or possessive over weird things that in actuality, I really didn’t care about.

Some people could recognize these tendencies and just decide not to go on Facebook but keep their account. That wasn’t going to work for me. I don’t have that much self control! So I de-activated my account. That’s not as scary as it sounds. Even if you deactivate your account, for a certain amount of time Facebook still keeps all your account info. Still, it was hard. I was very tempted to go back on in the beginning. I remember at one point an old co-worker got engaged, and immediately upon hearing about it I went back on Facebook to check out her photos. But after looking at them I was kind of like, huh, that’s it? So I tried to remember that feeling every single time I was tempted to go back on.

People’s reactions were really funny. Some friends asked me to go back on, though they weren’t the people I was closest with.  A lot of people thought it was crazy that I wasn’t on it, they couldn’t imagine how I lived without it. In the beginning I thought about what I was “missing” all the time, but now I hardly ever do. And the funny thing is, it actually made me invest more in my friendships. Now, instead of writing on someone’s wall or commenting on a photo, I send them an email, catch up over the phone, or send a handwritten note around holidays. Yes, it is more of a challenge to remember birthdays (!), but my friends are all pretty understanding. In the beginning it freed up a lot of my time. Now, between my own blog, reading other blogs, and Twitter, I probably spend more time than ever before online.  Nonetheless, I think not having Facebook in my life is still beneficial, especially when it comes to comparing myself to other people.

The purpose of this post is by no means to tell you to get off Facebook. I think this was something that, selfishly, I kind of wanted to say for a while. Everyone I know is on Facebook, so I’m definitely in the minority. And the truth is, between my blog and business, I may actually need to get back on Facebook for work purposes in the near future. But for now, I’m good without it and hardly ever think about it.

If you made it through, bravo! I’m so curious, have you thought about getting off Facebook or disconnecting from any social media? Have any good techniques for staying out of the comparison trap?  I’d love to hear!

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§ 7 Responses to Wait, you’re not on Facebook?

  • Leanne says:

    Thank you for such an honest post about this– I have spent an embarrassing number of hours hemming and hawing about whether I should leave fb. I got off once but got back on within days (I just found out I was pregnant and knew it’d be an easy way to tell faraway, semi out-of-touch friends when the time came).

    I would LOVE to get off facebook!! Less for the comparison trap (though I find myself doing that, too, for sure), but because I suspect I’d end up doing what you did, and invest more meaningful time and effort into real-life friendships and relationships. I have to monitor my boss’ fb page, and I’ve come to see fb especially as slacktivism in so many ways– the engagement you experience on there usually isn’t meaningful, there’s no risk involved in any of the relationships or positions you take (you don’t even have to be honest, so is everyone else … ?). There are truly maybe ten friends keeping me on– people I know from experience I’d lose touch with but whom I adore.

    Fb has its tentacles in me at least for a few more months … but I hope I’ll someday get off it! Bravo to you, being three years off! (Sorry for the way-long comment!!)

    • Clara says:

      Not too long at all! I’d probably feel differently if I had a baby on the way, that does make a difference. And even though I have my core friends, there are probably some people I’ve lost touch with because I’m not on it… but I suppose you just have to decide what’s right for you. I must admit though, I’d hate to have to manage someone else’s FB page!

  • anonymous says:

    I have had some nice discussions about that very thing with my 24 year old son. Its especially difficult if you are going through a hard time and you feel like a failure and everyone else looks like their lives are so wonderful. Its like one of those elaborately crafted cheery mass Christmas letters, but its in your face every day! I think you would be so busy putting on a show that you wouldn’t have time to do your real living.
    I am not on it because it makes me feel bad about myself. I spend real time with my real friends. Sorry to be so sour grapes about it!

    • Clara says:

      Anon- I completely understand where you’re coming from, so hardly sour grapes! It is especially hard during rough period, because the whole online thing makes it really easy to inflate the happiness in other people’s lives. I certainly respect your decision not to be on it!

  • I couldn’t agree more with you Clara. I’m actually not the biggest fan of Facebook, but I do maintain an account. I find that so many people send out invitations to social gatherings on Facebook, and it seems like if you’re not on Facebook, you’re not made aware of these things! It’s always just assumed that everyone is on Facebook. However, I have considered de-activating my account many times. Not to mention the fact that it has caused the occasional problem in some of my personal relationships (jealousy indeed)! I do try to limit the amount of time that I spend on it, and try to make sure that it’s not a substitute for calling, emailing, and even writing letters to friends.

    • Clara says:

      I totally know what you mean about the social aspect! When I first got off my boyfriend kept getting invited to all these parties and I was like, “Why am I not being included?” I didn’t even realize it was because I wasn’t on facebook, so if it weren’t for him and our social lives not being so intertwined, I’d probably be on it!

  • erraffety says:

    I sometimes feel conflicted about the amount of time I spend on facebook, versus getting out into our life here in China. But on the other hand, facebook has also been an awesome tool to remain connected with friends who we hope to see when we return. I do still struggle with the balance, but I think that’s mainly a struggle with my self-critic who always says I need to be doing more. Still, my husband and I have been trying to get out and take advantage of learning more about where we live while we’re here, and balance both cultures to which we now feel we belong!

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