On My Facebook Fast

Before, I never gave Facebook too much thought. I didn’t really understand how people found it addictive, as I found the interface terrible, the advertising annoying, and its more self-absorbed users to be overbearing.

But people change, and shockingly enough, I’m no exception. Over the past few months, I was becoming increasingly—and uncomfortably—aware of the amount of time I was spending on Facebook. It went further: it brought out a side of me I didn’t like, a side I didn’t like to acknowledge. I started to experience sadness, jealousy, and loneliness far more than I felt content and connected with others. It was just a tedious, energy-sucking tedium I could do without.

And then Ramadan came. I could quit Facebook and be virtuous about it! So I proceeded to do so.

It wasn’t as straightforward a process as I would have liked. I was the administrator for a group and for this blog’s fan page, and I had to hand privileges to trusted friends and colleagues. I missed out on a couple of event invites, but in two cases the hosts were gracious enough to make an extra effort and email me about them. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a bit disconnected and out of the loop at times. However, that was alleviated when friends bemoaned the fact that I was missing, even for a short while.

What this Facebook fast really reconditioned me to do was not instinctively open it every time I opened my browser. That habit had become automatic, for I was used to firing it up in my browser without thinking about it. When I deactivated my account, my brain felt a little puzzled at not being able to do that anymore, so it found alternatives. I fixed up my LinkedIn profile. I followed worthwhile people and organizations on Twitter. (The effect of Twitter is nothing like Facebook because, based on how I’ve curated my ‘following’ list, I am informed far more than I am entertained.) I (gasp) even checked the news. I watched documentaries, managed to do some writing than I had done in the past few months, finished reading an epically amazing book—you get the picture, I had a swell time.

I’m back on Facebook, and I’m too refreshed from that break to go back to my old habit of being plugged into it all the time. Ramadan always leads me to improve my eating, sleeping, and praying habits, and I’d like to think that this time, that tendency extends to my use of Facebook as well. Now, I’m planning on being next to inactive, for inactivity means minimal notifications, and minimal notifications mean less of a reason to be glued to it.

I now also have this romantic notion of a life that is untethered to Facebook: outings, trips, and thoughts that are mine alone, that exist independently of there having to be an account of it online. I like to think that I have reclaimed my life events and thoughts as mine, not what they appear to others.


7 thoughts on “On My Facebook Fast

  1. Interesting thoughts. Don’t you think Facebook is as much an exercise in self-signalling as it is in other-signalling? Perhaps, the polished persona we create on the site represents not just how we would like to be seen by others, but also how we want to be seen by ourselves. I.e. witty, philosophical, comfortable alone, sociable, etc.

    Maybe we’re curating a dynamic presentation of ourselves that we can come back to in the future, to relive our past highs and our peak experiences, and get in touch with that younger version of ourselves. In such cases, the “social” (i.e. connecting with other people) component of the site becomes subserviated to the egocentric component where our wall is literally a conversation with ourself and an attempt to preserve some piece of the present that will soon fade into hollow memories.

    “It stung like a violent wind / that our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds” – so goes a song by Death Cab for Cutie. Maybe in the future that faulty camera will be supplemented by a faulty social networking site as well.


    1. Thanks for that perspective. I’m reminded of a post I read from a more senior user, who uploads his pictures from way back when and tags them by date, thereby sharing artifacts from his life and generating a conversation around them. In his case, the literal camera is already supplemented by ‘faulty’ social networking!

      I guess the dissonance arises from the fact that Facebook is supposed to be ‘social,’ for others as much as it’s for yourself. It would be nice, I think, if its ethos was more honest about the fact that it’s for YOU, and most others don’t really care.

      Also, to quote my mother when we’re dressing up to go to some big fancy family dinner: everyone thinks everyone else is admiring them, but really, they’re all just admiring themselves. Heh.


  2. Sara Salam Alikom
    just interested that i have passed with your same experience i have de-activate my fb account for two months and yet activated it , during the deactivation i was very relief that i don’t have to log in and check the posts and news of my friends am now using twitter more than fb as for knowing the news and the world progress , i have made promise to myself to log-in to fb in the week-end am afraid that i couldn’t make it and return addicted again but am trying to do my best ….don’t forget me in your prayers 🙂


    1. Nice to hear that you did a similar exercise as well! I was a bit worried too about getting hooked on it again but it didn’t happen. Staying away made me realize that I wasn’t missing much 🙂


  3. I don’t use fb that much because I’m careful abt what I share online as I don’t want to be tarnished professionally but also ever since I live far from my home country I can’t bear to read about friends happier times at home. It’s like when their lives were rich, my life stood still. I’m not a show-off person so it all add up to the reasons why I don’t find fb appealing. A tool is how you make use of it. Good use begets good, wrong use begets abuse and addiction.


  4. I’m so glad that the fast went well for you! I do admit that I also use it too much, but mainly it is important for very little – a few updates or invites. I really am so impressed by what you did and hope I can pull away too at some point 🙂


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