I never wanted to leave FB giving people the middle finger. I didn’t want to hit the done button after I felt attacked by someone who I hadn’t spoken to in fifteen years. I wouldn’t leave because others disagreed with my faith, politics, or the fact that I like cats, salads, and burpees. I’m no stranger to rejection, so rejection wasn’t going to run me off.
But FB sucked the life out of me. I complained about it way too much. No matter the number of likes or comments, I rarely found connectedness. I allowed it to screw with my head and my time.
I’d give myself five minutes to log on, and five minutes would turn into fifteen minutes, five times a day. I’d spend fifteen more minutes beating myself up for succumbing to distraction when I could’ve used that time to do anything but slide my finger up and down a screen like a monkey.
I wanted to leave, but the silliest fear kept me imprisoned. And in the middle of writing a book, exiting didn’t seem like a good idea, especially because publishers want authors with a social media following. But listening to God was more important to me.
Maybe leaving is easier for people who have so many real-life connections they don't need to look for people, but I have a hard time finding and keeping friends, so after fourteen years on FB, I wanted to give serious thought to if, when, and how I’d leave.
For two years, I prayed about it with no clear direction. Reminder: God doesn't always drop answers into our laps. He waits for us to move.
When my wavering lessened, and I leaned toward pushing the button, I finally heard God in my prayers.
“I’m scared of losing my connections,” I said.
My thoughts replied, You don’t think I can replace your connections?
I laughed. How could I doubt that the God of the universe couldn’t replace seven hundred social media friends?
Strip club popped into my head next. “Wait, what? That’s weird,” I said. Until I remembered a ministry at a church I used to attend that went to strip clubs. They never entered the clubs but waited in the parking lot to witness to the dancers.
That’s when I realized God gave me the perfect analogy for FB. I didn’t have to be on FB to show people Jesus. I could do that from the outside. FB can hide my posts, but it won't stop me from sharing me.
Before I left, I didn’t post one announcement, expecting everyone to see it when FB would only show it to twenty people. Instead, I embarked on a month-long exit campaign to let my friends know where to find me. Because most people have to see something multiple times before they make a decision (like joining my e-mail list), I created posts and videos, and I private messaged people. Almost everyone saw my message, but not everyone responded, and that’s okay.
Sometimes the best act of love is to release stagnant relationships.
What struck me most about leaving was the number of people who told me they also wanted to exit but felt conflicted.
“I feel trapped here."
“I hate FB. It’s vile.”
“I’m a little jealous you’re leaving. Wish I could do the same.”
I won’t deny social media has benefits, but if so many of us feel this way, why don’t we do something about it?
It’s been two months since I left, and it feels darn good. I’ve regained time and creativity. I don’t miss it or feel left out, and I’m not tempted to reactivate. Maybe I’ll join another platform in the future, but for now, I’m enjoying “peace that surpasses understanding” without social media (Philippians 4:7).
Maybe deleting social media is right for you. Maybe it's not. But for those who feel trapped, I want you to know, there's life on the other side, and it's not so scary over here. If you wonder what you'll miss if you leave, consider what you're missing because you stay.