Thought Catalog
November 20, 2014

The 5 Stages Of Facebook Withdrawal

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Photographee.eu / (Shutterstock.com)
Photographee.eu / (Shutterstock.com)

We live in a society where we’re a part of every second of every person’s life experiences. We know that Jennifer and Charlie just broke up and that Sarah is really feeling the effects of the extra guac she put on her burrito earlier. We also know that she bought the burrito at Chipotle. And, judging from when she checked in to when she reported on her stomach pain (35 minutes), there isn’t really a line today and maybe we should make a pit stop on our way back from the gym.

It’s not surprising that social media can become overwhelming fairly quickly. For me, with a daunting friends list of over 1,200 people (probably excessive), Facebook became more of a stress than anything else.

I’m a bit of a control freak, so every single event invite I received was placed into a calendar. I was on top of what everyone was doing on any given day so that I could plan around that. I obsessed over how many likes that witty status would get—because, let’s face it, it was brilliant. I didn’t even realize that it was happening, but Facebook consumed a good portion of my life.

It took a rough break up with my long-term boyfriend for me to reach my breaking point. It may sound like a shit reason, but I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing any trace of him. Blocking him wasn’t going to be enough—we shared too many friends. I knew his name would pop up eventually, and it’s something I truly wasn’t ready for. So, I deactivated my Facebook and exposed myself to the whirlwind of emotions that come with it, starting with…

1. “PRAISE. IT’S GONE.”

Immediately after receiving confirmation that it’s gone forever, an overwhelming calm floods over you. This burden has been lifted and you no longer have to deal with who’s dating who again and see your great aunt’s blow-by-blow status updates of her day at the dry cleaner. Finally, you have time to catch up on everything you’ve been meaning to do, like finish that book everyone’s been telling you about or organize your T-shirts in order of color. But, once that’s done…

2. “What do I even DO?”

So…you deleted your Facebook. You cleaned your entire apartment. The dog is fed. And walked. Now what? Fun fact: At this point, I literally went to go check Facebook. As in, I forgot I deleted it less than two hours ago. Suddenly there’s a lot of empty time to be filled that you never before realized existed. And all those extra projects you said you’d do when you had time? They don’t take half as long as you’d expect. Get ready to start taking up some hobbies you’d never expect. And then you realize…

3. “WHAT IF I’M MISSING OUT ON EVERYTHING!?”

So…wait…what IS everyone doing tonight? Wasn’t there a thing with people that I was supposed to go to? Why hasn’t anyone called me? You’ll start to feel a deep sense of regret mixed with curiosity. You’ll want to log back on immediately and update yourself on all that you’ve missed. Stay strong, because what happens next is worse than just thinking you’re missing out. There’s a reason no one has called you.

4. “I told you twelve times…”

Fair warning: Everyone WILL forget that you’re no longer on Facebook and WILL be offended when you don’t show up to their gatherings. No amount of reminders will ever, ever matter because no one else can fathom someone not existing on the Internet. And it’s way too much work to text or call you separately. After all, YOU’RE the one who made the decision to alienate yourself. Why should anyone else suffer?

5. “I hate everyone.”

Eventually, you’re going to realize how connected everyone else is to Facebook despite the fact that you are no longer logged on. Social gatherings consist of conversations about things you missed, everyone’s new relationships, and who’s obsessively updating their statuses. You’ll feel superior for about 3.5 minutes before you realize that you behaved the exact same way until about two weeks ago. You’ll realize that everything that seemed to matter so much back then doesn’t hold much value anymore. Watching everyone else glued to his or her news feed will show you just how embarrassing this addiction can be, and thus a lesson is learned.

Admittedly, I’m back on Facebook—but the obsession has subsided drastically, and that’s what really matters. But in all honesty, I believe everyone should try it. Even just for two weeks. The emotional roller coaster is worth a shot. TC mark

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