6 things I’ve learned from my Facebook sabbatical

I’m outta here!

Earlier this month I deactivated my personal Facebook account for a minimum period of three months. As a frequent user (typically logging in/refreshing 5-6 times per day) this wasn’t a decision I took lightly.

I wanted to take a break for three reasons:

  • Personal use, especially through mobile app becoming increasingly impulsive, time-consuming and distracting
  • Advertisements served (especially right-hand column) increasingly irrelevant and dumb (60-70% of ads promoted Zoosk, a dating site because profile status was left at the default ‘Single’)
  • The ‘Secret Mood’ experiment a worrying sign of FB’s sketchy-at-best user communications

What I’ve learned, a month on:

  1. Leaving takes a lot of explaining to friends and colleagues (‘Why have you quit? What’s wrong?’ | ‘You work in digital marketing and have quit FB – are you mad?!’)
  2. Happiness levels have increased, stress levels have decreased – I’m no longer trawling through inane news stories, workplace moans or decoding subliminal status updates from loved ones *phew*
  3. Bumping into friends in the street is much more fun – we have *things* to catch up and talk about
  4. I still crave but cannot act upon that powerful ‘red button’ high
  5. Twitter is more productive – I can time manage my use and switch off much easier than FB
  6. Relying solely on FB’s news feed for ‘news’ can be damaging – one must interact with individuals outside this siloed echo-chamber – otherwise our brains will stay on autopilot

I will return to FB in September to try again. After seven years on the site, I want:

  • Focused and relevant ads, meaning I must provide more personal data to boost personalisation
  • Relevant content in my news feed, meaning I must audit my network accordingly.

I’m sure there’s a FB out there for me, but it’s clear users wanting an improved experience must make fundamental tweaks themselves.