How I Quit Facebook and Never Looked Back

I'd been scrolling aimlessly through my feed for about 15 minutes, cringing at some posts and liking a few pictures I hadn't yet.

Without realizing it, I'd slipped into the Facebook hole again. 

The "Facebook hole" means that I start clicking through profiles, even the ones of people I'd rather not talk to or pages that just spew click-bait-content and well-worn memes. The Facebook hole also means I start checking up on the folks that I've moved away from, on the individuals who I admire from a distance. 

It's not a very helpful or healthy behavior for me, whatever my intentions are for scrolling. And when I'm having a hard enough time focusing, there's an awful snowball effect that starts to build.

I'd see that a friend liked an article or commented on a photo, and 5 minutes later I'd find myself trying to check up on what their horrible ex was up to.  

I'd start exploring all of my connections. Not just exploring — digging. Even if it seems harmless, it's not. I start thinking about how awful of a friend I must seem, for not knowing enough about that person (even if I never actually interact with them in person). Somehow I'd missed that they were pregnant or started taking painting classes, and I'd wind up feeling like a fraud, going through back doors to gather information about them. 

And then I start defending myself: I don't have time for everyone, I don't have time to nurture all of these connections. Of course I haven't stayed in touch. I'm trying to take care of myself. 

But after more than a decade on the social platform, I think I've wasted enough time worrying about the virtual lives of others. And I don't need to defend my reasons for that.

So earlier this year, I started my Facebook detox. Here's how I did it.

First I decluttered by unfollowing a lot of profiles and pages. I mean, A LOT. I didn't see people's updates on my newsfeed anymore. I did still get updates from the pages that I followed — like a lot of folks, I used Facebook to stay up to date on the outside world. 

Then I did more of an audit. I actually disconnected from (or unfriended) people who I have no actual connection with. If we never interact, online or in person, there just wasn't any reason for me to stay connected with that person. I stopped overthinking it. 

Then I logged out of Facebook entirely, so that it was a little bit harder for me to dive into my Newsfeed right away.

I also deleted the app from my phone, which I recommend to everyone that they try anyway. I spend most of my days looking at a screen. I didn't want to encourage even MORE screen time by keeping myself plugged into Facebook on my phone, too. 

After a few months of getting comfortable with limiting my activity and engagement on the site, I stopped to recognize (and CELEBRATE) how much less time I'd been spending on the platform. In fact, one of the only reasons I log on to the site was because of work (I helped manage Facebook ad campaigns for a couple clients). 

And then one day in September I logged in. I started mindlessly scrolling again.

It's incredible how easy it is to get sucked in again without realizing it. Facebook knows how to keep people plugged in. 

Suddenly I found myself on the profile of someone I'd distanced myself from for a considerable time. We hadn't talked in over a year. I started clicking through their pictures and stopped myself. 

"What the hell am I doing?" (I actually asked myself that out loud.) I didn't actually WANT to see what that person had been up to. I had closed that door. 

It was within the same hour that I disabled my account.

I didn't delete it, so my account is essentially hidden, until I decide to activate it again or delete it entirely. It's likely that I'll take a little time to grab all of my pictures that are on Facebook before I delete the account. Or I'll just keep it deactivated. For now, I'm not using the site, and that's what I wanted.

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I don't miss Facebook at all. I'm still on Instagram and Twitter, mind you, so I'm not entirely disconnected from social media. But not being connected on Facebook has been one of the best decisions I could've ever made for my wellbeing and focus this year. 

Once I saw how detrimental "staying connected" was for me, I had to make that decision for myself. 

And I feel like I am still benefitting from leaving Facebook.

  • I have more focused time, in general. I'm not distracted by my phone as often, either.
  • I'm still connected (and have better connections) with the friends and loved ones who I want to devote time to. 
  • My stress levels have noticeably improved. By removing myself from the deluge of toxic discussion, unnecessary gossip, and political bullshit, I'm WAY HAPPIER. 

A lot of us have thought about leaving Facebook. The first step for me was deciding why I needed to leave. That list of reasons grew pretty exponentially over the years - yeah, I've thought about leaving for a long, long time now. It's not a decision I  made lightly. 

I also chose to approach the departure in steps - after years on the website (I was on Facebook longer than I was married), pulling the plug immediately might not have "stuck" for me. I haven't been on Facebook since September, and gradually leaving the site like I did makes it feel like less of a sacrifice because of that, I think. 

The desire to stay connected to people isn't bad. But as I've carved my way through these last few years and left behind the things that don't serve or fulfill me, I'm realizing that not all relationships deserve my energy. While I want to keep up with everyone that I've met and love a lot of people, I simply can't be the kind of friend that I want to be for all of them. And I don't want to be everyone's friend. And I've started to accept that that's okay.

Not keeping up with the girl who sat behind me in my Modern Irish lit class over a decade ago isn't going to devastate anyone. Letting go of the idea that we need to stay connected and involved with our friends ALL THE TIME is key to improving the relationships that we DO need in our lives. It just takes some of us (me) a longer time to realize it.

So if I'm proud of one thing in 2017, it's that I successfully left the toxic relationship that I had with my Facebook account. And I'm not looking back. 

Have you left Facebook? How did you make it happen? Any tips for people who are thinking about leaving? 

Why "hustling" is bullshit.

Perhaps this is a different kind of post than you're used to hearing from me. Generally I'm a warm and welcoming person. Generally I'm all reflective and talk about vulnerability and anxiety and self-care. This is kind of along those lines, but I'm a little fed up and y'all need to know about it. 

If you've known me for long enough, you already realize that I am not all smiles and friendly hugs. I do those things a lot, too. (I really like hugs.)

But I'm also fierce and opinionated. In the South, they sometimes call it "sassy." (Or "bitchy.")

I call it "done with bullshit."

Hustling = Bullshit

Today I'm calling the entire mentality of "hustling" total bullshit.

I subscribed to that mentality for awhile -- that if you burn out from working longer hours ("first in, last out at the office"), talk about your company vision at enough networking events, read the right books about growth-hacking, and get the perfect kind of stickers for your company's logo -- you're hustling. You're building something you'll be proud of. Write a book about it and you're a f*cking hero. They might even make a movie about you. 

All of that hard work isn't bullshit. I want to be clear about that. All of the long hours are not to be frowned upon. Working towards something you genuinely love and feel passion for is to be commended. 

But the competitive one-upping, the glorification of doing more and being more and having more -- it's all bullshit. 

And no one seems to be able to really agree on what "hustling" is -- their particular brand of "hustling," is, of course, the right way to go about doing business. But they're still hustling harder than you, man. All day, every day. 

My beef here is with the aggressive, single-minded philosophy that "following your dreams" means over-extending yourself because of a business idea. The philosophy that our value is based on our output of work.

What the "hustling" mentality fails to account for is the fact that we are not all the same kind of entrepreneur/freelancer/artist/creative/CEO/badass.

There is not a template for success.  

And there's not actually a trophy for "hustling," either, y'all. I'm not sure what you're running so quickly towards.

Sometimes getting more accomplished means taking TIME OFF. It means listening to your body and taking note of stuff like how high your anxiety levels are, how much fatigue you've been feeling, how desperate for sleep you've been. For me, getting more accomplished means I make time to be quiet, I detox from Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for a while, or I take a bath. Pulling myself away from all of the busy-ness means I get perspective and time for reflection. It means I refuel my tank, and that I'm not completely laser-focused on one project or goal -- of course I'm going to get burnt out if I'm only feeding one aspect of my persona. 

Slow the F*ck Down

Instead of pushing harder, I suggest we slow down. Stop the chaos entirely and assess where you're at. Not only are you get a much-needed chance to rest (can you remember the last time you got actual *rest*?), but you're also getting a chance to look at where you're at and how far you've come -- and if you've grown.

Fill your time with other passions (your friends, your family, your pets, your art, your music) and find other places to spend your energy. Close the laptop for awhile. Have a real conversation with someone (and don't talk about your work). 

You are not just your entrepreneurial self -- there are other parts of you that should be celebrated, too. 

So f*ck hustling. Start enjoying more of what this world has to offer. 

Writing Assignment #1

So I did this thing, where I knew that I needed outside support, so I found a way to get it and stay accountable to people by starting a Facebook group

I want to make sure I'm writing more frequently -- especially for myself, because I'd like to improve and build good habits, and all of those other adult things that people aspire to. 

The first writing assignment was to write a paragraph (roughly), about yourself. But it should be written from the perspective of someone who's known you for more than a year. Here's my entry this week. 

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Rachel is bubbly, and I know she's been told that before.

She cares deeply and laughs far too loud, and that's what makes her so warm. Rachel is figuring a lot of shit out right now. She's moved across the country, shifted into new roles, and she struggles with finding stability. Probably because she's still navigating that whole "life" thing, like all of us.

She's said that she feels "messy," but that's only because she's self-aware and highly critical. She is generous, she swears a lot, and loves until it hurts sometimes. 

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Stay tuned for the next assignment - I post a prompt a week. And if you want to join in, go here!