Facebook and FOFOMO

I pulled the plug on my Facebook a couple months ago, and haven’t looked back.

I’ve talked about how much of a time-waster Facebook is in the past, but my usage was getting out of control.

I wasn’t using it because I was homesick. I wasn’t using it because I had nothing better to do. I wasn’t using it to even communicate.

Instead of using it to add value to my life, I let it do the opposite: I was using it to compare myself to the Facebook-version of my friends and acquaintances.

I always felt worse after visiting Facebook.

Why did it take so long to deactivate?

The excitement of Facebook really started wearing off after college three years ago. I realized that 90% of my Facebook friends were people I had no need to keep in touch with, personally or professionally.

I started unfriending and unfollowing people left and right. But did that stop me from stalking old crushes wedding photos? Nope.

It didn’t stop me from reading aggravating statuses (on purpose) and seeking out successful acquaintances, both which always made me feel bad. I was addicted to comparing myself with people on the internet.

We’ve all heard of FOMO, right? In hindsight, what was stopping me from deactivating my Facebook was actually FOFOMO.

What is FOFOMO?

The Fear of “The Fear of Missing Out” is what I’ve been calling my hesitation to quit Facebook.

I know it’s silly, but I was more afraid of how FOMO would affect me than I actually turned out to be afraid of missing out. I was anxious about how future me would deal with the anxiety of missing out on social updates.

Our generation has now been using “FOMO” as a new form of guilt or peer pressure. If you’re not where everyone else is, you should be afraid that they’re all hanging out without you.

If you’re not on Facebook, then how will you know your friends got engaged or started new jobs? If you subscribe to FOMO and let it consume you, you should be ashamed to have to ask.

For our generation, it’s unacceptable to purposely opt-out of what’s going on. It’s not “normal”.

I was afraid of the guilt and embarrassment that would come with ignoring my FOMO.

What has changed without Facebook?

My fear of FOMO turned out to be unwarranted. It turns out that I haven’t been afraid of missing out. I haven’t even missed out on anything important.

In fact, I’ve gained so much more now that I’m Facebook-free:

  • I (literally) have added hours of valuable time to each week. This positive change happened immediately.
  • I have fewer digital people/distractions in my life now, and my time online feels a lot less complicated.
  • I feel kinder towards people in general. What ever happened to that girl who made fun of me in second grade? I can’t go to her profile anymore and see if she’s complaining or doing well for herself (both of which could frustrate me). Instead, I send a silent good wish her way and move on with my day.

You can quit too

The most difficult part is finally deciding to just do it. There are a few steps that can help you get there!

  1. Start unfollowing and unfriending people. Ask yourself these questions to decide what to do with each friend: Does this person need to read my updates or see my pictures? If they don’t, unfriend them. Do you need to read this person’s updates or see their pictures (but you still want to keep an online relationship with them)? If you don’t, unfollow them.
  2. Download all the information and pictures from your profile. It makes it easier to shut it all down.
  3. Try deactivating your account temporarily – you can set it to auto-reactivate after a certain number of days, which might help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
  4. Open up new avenues with new purposes. I’ve started texting and calling my friends more, and I’m inching back in to Twitter. I’m interested in meeting like-minded simple living people , so say hello!
  5. Don’t announce it. I wanted to share my email or my Twitter profile with a little “seeya” announcement, but I realized that allowing myself to engage with people before leaving Facebook was as dangerous as having just one more drink. It’s best to tell your closest friends personally and then deactivate your account without posting a word about it.

How do you use Facebook? Is it a positive or negative tool in your life?

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16 thoughts on “Facebook and FOFOMO

  1. Firstly, congrats on taking the FB detox.
    I’ve been a bit of a lurker of your blog, though I rarely comment on any blogs I read, so I think I’m THE Lurker (like those creepy people on FB).
    I think Facebook has far exceeded the levels of normal human interaction for many years. There are many things I’d rather not know about people, including family (especially when they publicly whine about other family members). I found interactions with people were vapid, not intentionally so… it’s just too much like an email- tone is easily misplaced depending on moods, and IMO emoji’s are inadequate and juvenile.
    The Minimalists had a lot to say about Fake Outrage (http://www.theminimalists.com/outrage/) that resonated with other reasons I quit.
    The worst thing I think about Facebook is that while it’s potentially a lovely way to share family moments with those far away, I was concerned sharing photos and information of my girl past age 2 when she began truly individuating would define her identity online inappropriately. I don’t think it’s right to create an online presence for your child before they can articulate their identity for themselves. It’s even worse to spend time online that is stolen from time better spent encouraging her to develop said identity.
    It’s two weeks shy of two years since I quit and in the last week I have contemplated deactivating Twitter, excepting it’s a useful way for me to skim through bites of news and social justice groups to avoid trawling through sites or watching TV. There is one particular friend that finds Twitter the most effective way to communicate- she is such a dear one to me that I am unsure how leaving Twitter would impact regular contact. I’m sitting on that decision for the moment.
    I’m sure many people find Facebook useful, but the only FOFOMO I have now is missing the hilarious statements and giggles that gurgle from my ‘baby’s’ mouth and the quiet stolen moments I get with my husband after she is asleep.

    • Thanks Naomi! Wow, your comment is just so lovely. There’s so much going on around us in the “real world” that it’s really such a shame that the digital world of Facebook causes so much anxiety.

      I love your thoughts on your daughter’s digital identity – I never thought about that before and I think it makes so much sense. I’m keeping that wisdom for if me and the Mr. decide to have kids someday.

      That Fake Outrage is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s so poisonous and incredibly contagious, too.

      Thanks again for your comment! It’s lurkers like you that make writing this blog worthwhile. Lurk away, my friend.

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  3. Hi Emily! I just ran across your blog today and feel instantly connected to everything you’re doing and how you’re living. Kudos! I deleted my Facebook almost 5 years ago after having it for at least that many years – it was the best decision I ever made (for many of the same reasons you mentioned). I for sure went through a “mourning” period and noticed some changes in friendships as a result. But to this day I feel happier and healthier because of that decision. I hope you do as well!
    I also want to thank you for sharing your journey with moving and lifestyle changes. My husband and I already live pretty simply and modest. However, we have been debating relocating … as in we first talked about it three years ago (eek!). Reading about your experience has given me more confidence and courage to believe we can actually do it. Thank you! (Now we just need to make tangible plans) P.s. Do you have an instagram where readers can folllow along?

    • Hi Kelly! So happy to hear from you. I have NO regrets, except for having to change some services that I used to sign in to via Facebook (hah, it kept reactivating my account). I absolutely love the extra time & sanity I have. I say if moving feels right, go for it! It’s tough some days, but I don’t regret our decision. I’m totally in support of people doing things they’ve been wanting to do. I do have an Instagram – my username is @enna.ree and would love to have you follow along.

      Thanks for reading & commenting!

  4. Thank you for this post. I read it at the right time and it was confirmation that I am making the right decision to shut my Facebook account down. I am going to advertise my garage sale on it Saturday and will be closing it after we finish with the sale. I just peruse it mindlessly and I want to take control of my time and put it to good use. I’ve been wasting it for far too long.

    • Woohoo! It really is worth it. It’s been over two months, and I really don’t see a need to go back to it. I felt the difference immediately – like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

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  6. I have been trying to ditch Facebook for a while now. I’m an oversharer and hate that I share so much of my life with literal strangers. There are a few people I have gotten to know quite well but not so well that I have their phone numbers, ya know? I’ve found most of my sharing was either really good stuff (aka new job, new car, etc) or really bad stuff (grumbling about some momentary injustice, complaining about the 8th day of rain, etc). So either I was bragging or bitching… and everyone else was doing the same. Reading someone’s stuff would either make me feel like less of a person (b/c someone else got a better job, etc) or make me feel angry b/c their post was angry. And I was feeding into that. Not to mention the HOURS of time wasted there. So I deleted the app from my phone. I have a business page, a business group, and a business persona, but I will be deleting them all in short order b/c I’m quitting that business (direct sell) (edit: the business page was closed today). I’m removing anything from my life that doesn’t bring me considerable joy all the time (I’m still considering what to do with my children… ok, that’s a joke. I’m keeping them) and Facebook is next on the chopping block. I have a public figure page for my blog and wonder if I can set my blog to post to it automatically without me having to actually get on Facebook to share new blog posts. I’m really new to blogging (only a couple of weeks old) and want to build an audience. I feel FB and Twitter are the quickest ways to do that, but how to do use FB without using FB? Anyway, thank you for defining why I’ve been hesitant to discard FB. FOFOMO is exactly the problem I’m facing. Thank you.

    • “I’m removing anything from my life that doesn’t bring me considerable joy all the time” <- Wow, I love that. What a great intention! I agree about Facebook, it can really play with emotions. At the moment, my blog doesn't have a Facebook because I don't want the extra incentive to check up on everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed the post Jenn!

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  8. You know what’s really surprising lately on fb? People are sharing facebook notifications like “so & so have been fb friends for 9 years”. And I’m thinking, 9 years on that website, is that something to really celebrate? Sounds like a lot of wasted time to me, I don’t know. My account is deactivated for now. I had fun sharing my wedding pics last year…but now find that I don’t want to share my life daily with everyone anymore. I’m valuing my privacy & fear I gave too much away previously. And I yearn to return to life as in the pre-facebook years.

    • Hah! I haven’t thought about it like that, but you’re so right. 9 years is a long time to spend hours a week on Facebook for. I agree – I did wedding photos, but rarely post anything else. I’ve actually unfollowed most people (while still remaining friends) so that I don’t just mindlessly scroll through mundane updates. Facebook is really a tough one, and the fun of it wore off years and years ago for me. Thanks for sharing, Sharon!

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