No More Facebook: How Disconnecting Reconnected Me

 Photo courtesy of Alexander Gustafson

Photo courtesy of Alexander Gustafson

I was in sixth grade when I first created a Facebook account. The opportunity to post pictures for people I only partly knew seemed revolutionary.

But all of that slowly changed. Over a few years, I built up over 1,000 “friends” on the platform, leading to a news feed of people that I had never actually spoken to before. This massive group of “friends” ended up making me feel more disconnected than ever before, because I couldn’t focus on the relationships that really mattered to me. Instead, I tried to cram in as many connections as possible in just one website.

I deleted all social media for a semester with a few guys in Churchill and Reagan last year, and it was the most refreshing decision I had made in years. No longer was I virtually interacting with people I didn’t know. I went back to them for a few weeks, thinking I’d be able to come back to them with a positive mindset. That wasn’t the case, so I got rid of them all again.

Those who spent more than two hours a day on social media were twice as likely to feel socially isolated.

My issue with Instagram is that I would like photos of King’s students I had never actually met, and they would like my photos in return. Out of all the people who would like my photos, I usually only knew half of them. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people this academic year about this phenomenon, and it turns out I am not alone in this. To use one of Dr. Bradley’s favorite words, there is a crisis right now, which largely stems from virtual connections being favored over real ones.

Social media seemed to create fake relationships with people, and it made me content with their lack of realness. I had no motivation to go out and introduce myself to someone to form a genuine friendship if I knew I could maintain a virtual relationship with them from the comfort of my bed.

Facebook was the last platform I left. I had been pushing it off, since it was tied to my Spotify account. (PSA: Spotify will move all of your music and followers to a new playlist if you’d like to disconnect it from your Facebook account.) I had three purging sessions within my friends list over the past few years, where I deleted anyone who I had never exchanged words with in real life. That got me down to roughly 140 friends. However, this never fixed the emptiness I felt inside of me when on the platform. Passively scrolling for an hour in bed through videos and memes that my friends from back home had shared brought me no closer to being happy, because it only made me feel isolated.

Social media use is significantly associated with increased depression, according to a survey conducted by Brian Primack, the director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Their findings aren’t surprising. They went on to do another study, finding that those who spent more than two hours a day on social media were twice as likely to feel socially isolated, a feeling that I learned all too well during my obsession with social media.

Since creating a Facebook profile almost 9 years ago, I’ve seen people cry, lose friends, get into fights with their significant other, and get severely bullied on social media. This is not something that we should be content with. Social media platforms are designed to be addictive and collect our information. After the recent Facebook scandal, we should all take a step back from how we spend our time on social media, especially those who are hurting themselves by consuming it.

Instagram aesthetics and a well put together Facebook profile aren’t real, but the benefits of giving them up are.