First off, that’s a quote from me about four years ago and roughly two weeks before I did for 3 months.
Second, I’ve gotten texts and emails to that tune and so it’s time to clear up some myths.
There is nothing heroic about deactivating a facebook account, it’s merely a few clicks and with just deactivating you come back to all your pics and most of your friends (a few will always “unfriend” intentionally or otherwise if you deactivate). You will survive, your friends and family will survive and life will go on. But it does help to consider things before you deactivate.
Why are you deactivating?
You need a clear reason for yourself and no one else. Why is this important? It will guide you, particularly in the early days as you come to realize just how much of a time
waster filler facebook is/was.
If you’re deactivating for a fast for, say, Advent that we are just beginning or Lent, you will want to fill that time with activities that bring you closer to God. You may read more Scripture, the Lives of the Saints or other spiritual reading, for example. You may dedicate more time specifically to prayer: maybe attending Daily Mass, praying the Rosary, or the Divine Office. Perhaps you are able to spend time in Adoration either in person or online. You can also volunteer at your parish or local soup kitchen or other organization evangelizing in action as well as word.
If you’re deactivating because of you want to spend more time with your kids, obviously you need to schedule time and make sure you’re paying attention (so, it should go without saying, take the app off your phone and tablet, since you’re deactivated already anyway). If you’re doing it for health reasons, replace it with health apps and put your butt at the gym or pool or however you plan to increase activity. You get the idea…clearly articulating your reason for deactivating will give you the blue-prints for a plan of success.
Now, for some of the objections:
The biggest thing I hear is, “my family counts on me posting pics of my kids, so I can’t deactivate!” First off, family will get used to not seeing the pics on facebook. As long as it won’t “fill the void” of facebook by becoming your new facebook, consider using Snapchat or Instagram for photo-sharing. If you blog, a weekly photo-dump post is entirely acceptable. You can even go old school and email them. And if you’re feeling super OG you can print them out at a drug store or photo-printing service and mail them to friends and family. 🙂
“I have to use facebook for (fill in the blank)…” Last year my sister-in-law created her facebook account for the first time because my nephew was in a play and the director made clear that all information would be available and only available via a secret facebook group. No texting, no emails, no phone calls. It was a one-stop shop. I have a blog page to maintain. A friend who deactivated a few weeks ago needed to keep in touch with her American Girls troop via their facebook group. And then there are those who may have to use a company facebook page for work etc. The solution for me and my friend was to create shell-accounts that have no “friends.”It is easy enough to do although you may have to create a second (or third) email in order to do. It is well worth it as without all the personal announcements and pronouncements you will be able to “get down to business” and then get off much more easily. I use a pseudonym for my shell account, my friend uses her real name: there is nothing wrong with doing either, it’s your personal preference but if you are using your real name, beware that friends and family may send you friend requests.
“My friends and family will worry!” I deactivated a couple of years ago because of an incident going on at my kids’ school that I wanted to distance myself from as much as possible which worked great until I started getting frantic texts and emails from friends who were concerned something had happened to us… Since then I have begun announcing about 24 hours prior that things were fine and I would be taking some time away. This last time, I didn’t do that. I felt the less said, in this particular instance, the better. I did announce after the fact on my blog page, but you can post and pin a post on your personal timeline with a notice of the date when deactivation will take place. It doesn’t hurt to message friends and family you are close to but who don’t check facebook regularly because as the laws of facebook go: they’ll want to contact you there about seven minutes after the account goes dark.
Deactivation can be as long as you need it to be. I’ve had many friends and family who decided after their prescribed fast etc that they didn’t want to go back and a few who went back reluctantly for various reasons but most of them have gone back and resumed practice with a new discipline (physical, mental and or spiritual) in place.
If you need a break for whatever reason, there is no reason not to take one and no one should be made to feel like their presence is required on facebook. How long did we survive without it? Everyone will survive. It’s not martyrdom, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll even come out the other side better in one or more ways…well, here’s to hoping at least.