People are incensed about Facebook’s manipulation of emotional content. Psychologist that I am, I wasn’t too upset about it. Since my dissertation involved deception, how hypocritical would that be? And, I seriously doubt that Facebook’s research killed anyone, as one Tweeter apparently wondered.
Nevertheless, the controversy, along with my clients and friends who are regularly threatening to delete their Facebook accounts, led me to pull together these reasons to consider joining the FB-Free club.
1. You Won’t Be An Unwitting Guinea Pig
If you are furious about the FB content manipulation, you might want to consider, as psychologist Michael Ross said: “It’s like you love undressing in front of an open window and then being outraged that someone watched.”
Be that as it may, not only would deactivating your FB account solve the problem of being subjected to future unwanted intrapsychic meddling, maybe you also get the satisfaction of giving FB a little payback by leaving. Take that Facebook!
2. You’ll Stop Making Negative Social Comparisons
Granted, the research is mixed on this, but consider the innate human drive to define ourselves by comparisons with others. How do you feel when you see what other people post about their kids? Whether it’s because your kids are underachieving at the moment, you’re ambivalently child-free, or your kids aren’t talking to you today, if it makes you feel bad, why look?
Seeing the luxury vacations, happy family gatherings and great new jobs your “friends” are enjoying can be upsetting if you’re in a less than happy place on these dimensions. It’s like someone rubbing salt in your wounds.
3. You Will Eliminate Post-Breakup Blues
Looking at your ex’s FB posts or friends’ posts about your ex is a bad idea, but it’s so difficult to avoid. Maybe you don’t have the willpower not to look, or something distressing pops up on a feed from an acquaintance you didn’t even know knew your ex or their new squeeze. Do you need the gratuitous demoralization?
4. You’ll Save (A Lot) Of Time
Ever notice that the first 20 minutes of your day, or the last 20, or many 20s in-between are sucked into a FB wormhole? It’s easy enough to tell by tracking how you spend your time for a few days. Then look at how much of it is spent on mindless FB surfing. Surely there are better things to do with your time.
5. You’ll Have Less Drama In Your Life
One of the biggest reasons my clients report for leaving the fold is that they can’t stand all the drama. Not only reading about it, but often getting innocently sucked into it. There are the sins of commission—you make comments you believe to be innocuous that are totally misinterpreted. There are even sins of omission—your failure to comment is over-interpreted—after all, everyone knows there’s nothing more important than reading and commenting on FB posts. We’re talking about a lose-lose situation.
6. You Won’t Be Forced To Read Annoying TMI Posts
Maybe it’s just me, but there are some things I’d rather not know. Whether it’s what someone had for lunch today, my running coach’s rabid libertarianism or my old high school friend’s insane fear of contracting Ebola. I learn about these things and much much more through my FB feed. I’d rather be in denial—that way I can imagine what lunch on a Maui beach might consist of only if I so desire, I can pretend my coach shares my personal values and remember my old friend as the reasonable individual I believed her to be. The thing is, you can’t un-ring a bell and FB is constantly ringing.
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I’m not deleting my account just yet, but I know many people who have wonderful tales of what it’s like to live Facebook-Free.