Back in May, I took the plunge and deleted my Facebook account. There were strange and personal reasons that finally pushed me to do it, but it’s something I’d been thinking about and wanting to do for a long time. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned since then.

1. Smartphones Aren’t that Necessary

Now, I’m not going to say that smartphones aren’t “useful”. That would be a lie — especially for someone that works online like me. I rely on my smartphone to keep up with my inbox. So my smartphone is very useful — both professionally and personally (like when you need directions).

Source: Infographic

But once I had no occasion to check my Facebook account, I started spending a lot less time looking at my phone — especially outside of business hours. It’s almost as though Facebook was feeding my “need” for a smartphone and a data plan.

2. There are Other Social Networks

When I first deleted my Facebook account, I was still in the habit of using my phone to kill time. But without a Facebook account. I started turning to other social networks that I’d previously neglected in favor of the “big FB”.

Namely, I started using Twitter and Instagram more, and that really changed who I interacted with and how I interacted with them. I found myself paying more attention to people I didn’t jive with much on Facebook, and (via Twitter) consuming more content and less UGC.

3. There’s a World Outside Facebook

As much as I started spending more time on Twitter and Instagram, I started spending a lot less time using social media. After all, there’s only so long you can look at a Twitter or Instagram feed until you’ve seen everything new (or interesting).

Credit: dorena-wm

So without intending to, I started paying more attention to my physical environment. Whether I was on a bus or in a cafe, I started looking at the people and the world around me. I started seeing and noticing things about the world and human nature that I’d forgotten about because I’d been spending so much time with “a device”.

And let me tell you: that physical world is a lot more interesting than the virtual one.

4. I Had a Problem

The more I fell back on observing the physical world, the more I realized how much more I could learn from it than I could from social media. I started using Twitter less and less, and even deleted my Instagram account.

“I can quit any time I want…”

Inadvertently, I’d realized that I’d had an information addiction. I was consuming more and more (mostly pointless) information (like status updates), and it was making me miserable. Basically, once the supply was gone, I sobered out and was astonished at how I’d been behaving — and repulsed by how so many of my friends still compulsively checked their phones instead of taking in the world around them.

5. You Have More Time Than You Realize

Now I’m not talking about the productive time I wasted on Facebook because, frankly, I still procrastinate just as much. I’ve just found new places to do it — like YouTube and Reddit and the like.

Rather, I’m talking about when I’m out in the physical world (see point #3) and my mind is in the mood to wander instead of taking in my surroundings. Basically, now I end up thinking about things I’m working on or things I have to get done.

In a nutshell, Facebook was needlessly sucking up my mind share. And now, I plan, scheme, organize and/or get creative instead of looking at status updates that are entertaining (in a voyeuristic way) but otherwise useless.

6. You Won’t Really Miss That Many People

Well, when you’re in the Facebook ecosystem, you have all these contacts who are social butterflies. They update frequently and their updates generate a lot of feedback (Likes, comments, etc.), and the Edgerank algorithm rewards them by pushing those status updates into your feed for even more validation (possibly from you).

Credit: The Facey Family

Well, it’s pretty much the fishbowl thing. We confine ourselves to certain fishbowls, and while we neglect the world beyond them, we also tend to over-emphasize the importance what is actually in our tiny bowls of water with us.

The point is that there are people you use Facebook to keep in touch with and then there are people who use Facebook who use Facebook to “keep in touch” with you. Edgerank makes them seem like part of your tribe, but they’d never help you move a couch.

When you leave Facebook, you find ways to keep in touch with the people that actually matter to you (personally or professionally) without even thinking about it, and completely stop thinking about all those people who once spammed your feed (and mind share) with their thoughts, opinions and mundane daily activities. All of a sudden, you have your actual tribe in perspective.

7. Your Network is Captive

Shortly after deleting my account, I had to get in touch with an old colleague. We used to work together, but had both moved on to other things, and I wanted to refer her some business.

The only problem was that I only had her old work email address. So I actually ended up reactivating my Facebook account for a few hours so I could message her, get her personal email, and get a dialogues going.

What I realized is I’d lost some ownership of my personal network. Here was someone I’d worked with closely for almost two years, but because we both worked in social media, we’d let Facebook monopolize our lines of communication. It was an oversight, but one that was too easy to make since we both relied so much on Facebook for both our work and play.

8. No One is Reading this Blog Post

I don’t blog all that often anymore, and I haven’t in a while, but before quitting Facebook, whenever I did post something, if it didn’t get comments, it got Likes and Tweets and traffic. Ever since shutting down my Facebook account, however, that’s changed.

Credit: Matt @ M.N.D Photography

Basically, posting something on Facebook exposed it to my immediate network, who then Liked and Shared it, which resulted in more exposure and traffic, which in turn generated the comments and Tweets. That doesn’t really happen anymore.

I can still Tweet a link, but that’s momentary and ephemeral, and quickly buried in the noise and the onslaught of the stream. I’ve lost a lot of my ability to shamelessly self-promote.


I guess the big lesson here is that Facebook is a tool. And like any tool, it has many uses and applications.

It just so happens that some uses are a lot more legitimate or practical than others, and when the impractical uses outweigh the practical ones, that’s when the tool starts to be abused. It’s kinda like when you start relying on alcohol or drugs to have a good time, instead of just occasionally using them to enhance a situation that’s already fun.

And that’s what I think the problem is with social tools like Facebook. It seems like not only do we (as a generation) spend too much time using them, but we’ve actually come to rely on them to mediate our social lives and interactions.

Since quitting Facebook, not only have I learned to remember that I don’t need “the book” to maintain and nurture my social life, but that social life has become a lot richer.

Now when I meet someone new (a friend, a girl, or a business contact), I have to make that much more of an effort to establish and maintain contacts. And putting in that much more effort not only solidifies those connections more, but it forces me to choose more carefully what connections I invest in, and what connections I choose to forego.

13 thoughts on “8 Things I Learned from Quitting Facebook

  1. Hey CT – it’s as if I wrote this myself… and I will share it with others when they want to know why I did (what they consider) the unthinkable – quitting FB.

    As for traffic to your site… you’ll have to go back to the old fashioned way of writing a lot more, which for me would be a welcome addition to my week! For varying reasons my own blogging had dropped off, but now that I have restarted it, my readership has increased. Food for thought…


    1. You’re probably right that I need to write more. But to be fair, I didn’t lay off on the writing because I quit FB and started getting less of a response. I got buys long before I gave up on FB, and just had less time to write in general. In fact, this post has been half-written as a draft for months before I finally finished it this week :P

    1. Glad you liked it, hombre!

      I’m looking to make my way toward your side of the pond in the next few months. Hope to see you soon ;)

  2. Great post. I’ve been wanting to quit for a long time, but having a business page made me stay in the loop and inevitably kept me on there. Now that that’s over, I want to quit, but I’m involved with some clients and projects that demand my time on FB (granted, no longer as myself). So, how do you manage not being on it, while still working in social media?

    1. That’s been tricky. I used to manage FB pages for my clients, so I transfered my admin role over to a spoof account, but I still provide social media marketing training, so I’ve had to maintain that spoof account.

      But mostly, I focus on providing high level strategy to my clients and coaching their staff who all have profiles, so I manage to remain hands-off.

      Of course, if everyone followed my lead tomorrow, this could pose a bit of a problem. Then again, if everyone followed my lead tomorrow, I guess we’d have no reason to market on FB.

  3. Nice Article, and certainly something to think about. I saw some time, not long ago that i spended to much time on fb and that was contraproductif. But can’t let it go. Want to use the connections with people when i start my own buisness. Maybe i am still to adicted to it. But getting reminderd to it can’t be harmfull ;)

  4. This was helpful. I have realized lately that FB has become a bit of a problem for me in the ways you write about in this post. I have found a lot of posts by women on this topic, but not so many by men. I’m learning a lot about the rationale, what I hope to gain from quitting (so far, everyone is confirming my optimistic forecast), and what steps I might take before quitting.


    1. My advice would be to not take any steps at all. Don’t even bother telling anyone you’re doing it. Those who matter will notice and ask, but a lot of people won’t notice for months, if at all. I did it on a whim and never looked back. It really was that easy…

      1. Agreed. Cold turkey is the best way to go. I quit 7 months ago and haven’t looked back. Yeah, no one’s phoned or noticed. Whatever.

  5. I finally took the plunge and not only deactivated but did a permanent delete of Facebook without telling a single person but my husband. After one week I have had more time to ‘myself’ than I have had in many years. I am not reading about the lives and first world problems of friends and acquaintances. I am not having to re-add or decline those that keep requesting me after I have already deleted them all the while making me look like the asshole in the first place. Obviously you were deleted for a reason right? These problems are way too first world for me and I have an addictive personality as it is so I did what I had to do to make me a better and more focused person. I do not miss it at all. My husband reminds me of birthdays and local bands playing, news going on in the world or a cool website, and that is all I need. If you are truly my ‘tribe’ then our relationship is far more personal than a keystroke.

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