Two years later, the benefits of deactivating Facebook outweigh the cons

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In July 2014, after months of consideration, I deactivated my Facebook account.

As I mentioned at the time, I wasn’t getting enough out of Facebook to justify the time I spent on the platform. And while social media strategy is an important part of my work, I felt like I’d be more productive and helpful to my clients overall without an active Facebook account.

So, now that I’m two years into this “experiment,” would I do it again? The short answer is “yes”–but the results have been somewhat mixed. Here’s an overview of what’s kept me off Facebook and where I feel like I’m missing out.

Pros

  • First and foremost, I’ve become much more productive given the time I’ve gained back. In fact, 2016 has been my most productive year ever. That’s not entirely–not even mostly–due to deactivating my Facebook account, but it’s certainly contributed.
  • It hasn’t significantly impacted my ability to help my clients make better use of Facebook. I’ve never been interested in the mechanics of Facebook; what interests me is how businesses can use it–and other social media tools–to engage with their audiences and tell their stories. I feel just as well-versed on that topic while also having more time to better understand and research other social media platforms.
  • Reactivating my Facebook profile, when needed, isn’t hard. If I need to check in on something for a client or to better understand one of Facebook’s new features, it’s very easy to reactivate my account and then deactivate it again upon closing out. Still, however, the “deactivate” option serves as a constructive barrier to entry–as does having deleted the app from my phone.
  • I’m more likely to be genuinely, pleasantly surprised. When I was active on Facebook, my friends’ news was usually old news by the time I saw them face to face. In short, a little bit of mystery–the good kind–has been reintroduced into my relationships.
  • I have more privacy. Sharing a little less on social media overall, and changing where and how I share, has helped me remain a little more private.
  • I’m especially glad I’m off Facebook during a presidential election year.Enough said.

Cons

  • I still goof off. Like many of us, I still spend more time with social media than I should. And I have been a little more active on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, somewhat as a substitute for time I used to spend on Facebook. It’s not one to one, though–far from it.
  • It probably affects whether people perceive me as an “expert.” I’ve always been careful to rarely (if ever) refer myself as a social media expert given how broad that term is, and I’m especially reluctant to do so now that people can’t find me on Facebook. For some people, that’s probably a deal-breaker (especially since I can’t be a Facebook page admin).
  • I’m out of the loop more often. While I feel connected to what’s most important to my family and friends, I have missed a few things. The downside of being genuinely, pleasantly surprised, it seems, is feeling like you’ve missed something that everyone else knows.

As the points above infer, the pros outweigh the cons–not just literally, but in terms of a general sense of lightness–being less burdened by the need to share or make sense of everything others have shared. It’s hard to explain the benefits of being Facebook free, but I can say with certainty that for me, it’s the right choice.

So, what does this mean for you?

Nothing, perhaps. But if you’ve considered deactivating your Facebook account, I have a few words of advice:

  • Either do it or don’t, but halfway doesn’t work. Reactivating your account, as I mentioned above, is easy–so easy that you might get sucked back in. If you’re truly committed to spending less time on Facebook, then, you’ll need to work hard to change your habits.
  • If you’re a Facebook page admin, think twice. You’ll likely need to give up any business page admin duties before you deactivate your account. Talk to your fellow admins before pulling the plug, and consider how this affects your work (and theirs).
  • Mention it to your family and friends. Some people will think you’ve unfriended them. Some will think you’re going through a crisis. Some will wonder what you have to hide. The only antidote is a brief conversation with the people who matter to you.

While I’m glad I made this decision, doing so isn’t right for everyone. I respect that others get tremendous value out of Facebook or can enjoy the benefits mentioned above while keeping their accounts active. However, using Facebook isn’t compulsory. If you’re ready for a break, then, it might be time to give deactivation a try–whether now or two days, two weeks, or two years from now. Or maybe the next time there’s a presidential election.

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