Almost everyone I talk to lately seems dissatisfied with Facebook. Young people are ditching it in droves: a recent Pew Research study shows that nearly half of millennials have deleted the Facebook app, and 74% of all Facebook users have either hardened their privacy settings, taken a break for more than a few months, or completely disconnected from the app altogether. Yet for a lot of us older users, we may find it harder to break the chains of Facebook; it’s a convenient way to keep up with friends and family, and we enjoy seeing posts from pages and businesses that we follow. If you’re like me, you’ve probably considered removing yourself from Facebook multiple times, but something always pulls you back in. Usually it’s that convenience factor.
Here, we will show you some ways to disconnect from Facebook and still stay informed.
I’m predicting that the trend of mass departure form Facebook will only grow, and people will seek other, more personalized ways to stay informed. For awhile, Facebook took over completely from actual websites, with some businesses and organizations backing away from creating and maintaining websites because all their traffic was going to Facebook. That is changing, and blogs (like Eccentric Dames Society!) are creating niche environments where people make a conscious choice to log on and read.
Social media (and for the purposes of this article, social media=Facebook) can cause anxiety, spike your stress level, and affect your mental health, not limited to the following:
- Constant news and squabbling
- Seeing images that cause you to question your own life and success factor
- Feeling a compulsion to “check in” and stay on top of things
- Social media can be addictive
- False “friendships” are created
- Ironically, it can cause isolation, even though you feel “connected” to people
- Being hooked on responses and validation of your own posts
So how can you break the chains?
It isn’t easy, but the best place to start is to simply limit your social media screen time. Think about the reasons you want to access Facebook and why you do it so often. For me, I like being able to see what’s going on in my friends’ lives, and I also follow a lot of pages. I have gotten so close to completely closing my Facebook account, but each time I’m about to pull the plug, one of their little hooks gets deeper. For example, I love the “memories” feature that Facebook provides. It’s nice to see reminders of your life and good times that have passed. But those can also be painful sometimes, and you don’t want that reminder. It’s a double-edged sword.
OPTION 1: The mild break
Delete the Facebook App from your phone, but keep your account open. Only access Facebook on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. Not having it on your phone for instant/constant access will help so much, and when you have to make a conscious effort to login to Facebook, your screen time will decrease.
OPTION 2: The medium break
Deactivate your Facebook account. This will temporarily remove your account from searches, but will not close your account. Click here for instructions on deactivating. NOTE: If you deactivate, your friends will not be able to contact you via Facebook.
OPTION 3: The hard break
Permanently delete your account. This is scary, because if you’re like most Facebook users, you’ve been on there a long time and you have a history: documented posts, photo albums, memories, etc. One thing to think about is how much power and personal information you’ve given this app in your life. See the next section for an important step to take if you decide to completely delete your account.
If you decide to do the hard break
Did you know can download everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook? You can! And you SHOULD! Click here for instructions on downloading all of your Facebook data. You can choose what you’d like to download (chances are you won’t want every single thing).
So now what?
Before you completely break the bond with Facebook, you’ll have to decide how you want to get information and keep up with your friends and family. It will take some work and preparation, but it will be worth it if you’re serious about leaving Facebook.
KEEPING UP WITH FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND CONTACTS
- Reach out personally to the people you want to stay in contact with. Let them know that you are leaving Facebook but want to stay in touch. Get their email addresses, phone numbers, ask if they like texting if you’re into that, and get their mailing addresses. When you go through your Friends List on Facebook, how many people on their do you really care about and want to stay in touch with?
- Go the old fashioned route and email (wow, is email old-fashioned now?!), call, or write letters and cards. I’m not a phone person, but I love to text. I’m terrible about writing letters, but I blame that on Facebook. Don’t you love getting nice mail that isn’t bills or junk? Everyone does 🙂 — you may feel that you don’t have time to do this, but really — think about all the time you spend on Facebook. Trust me: you’ve got the time!
KEEPING UP WITH PAGES, BUSINESSES, AND BLOGS YOU LIKE
This part is a lot of work, but you’ve spent a lot of time building up pages you like to follow, and you don’t have to lose those.
- Go through the pages you’ve liked on Facebook. This is easier on a desktop/laptop than a phone or tablet, and you should grab a piece of paper to jot down your favorites. Facebook changes this all the time, and as of the publication of this article, these are the steps for desktop/laptop: A) Go to your profile (click on your name on the top blue bar). Click “About” (usually under your cover photo). B) Scroll down until you see “Likes”. There will be a “View All” link; click that. You’ll then see all the pages you’ve liked. Jot down the ones you want to keep up with.
- Sign up with an RSS reader service. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” and it pulls updates from websites. An RSS reader service pulls “feeds” from websites you like and displays them in a neat package for you. It’s like a Facebook feed but only with information you conscientiously CHOOSE to have presented to you. Pretty neat! My favorite is Feedly, and I will go into detail about setting that up in a bit, but click here for a list of the Top 10 RSS Readers for 2018. If you’re a smartphone or tablet user, choose a service that also has an app for your device so you can read on the go.
- Patronize the businesses you’ve liked; they will be so appreciative! Liking a page and showing support on Facebook is one thing, but actually going to the restaurants, hiring the services, and buying the goods of businesses you’ve liked goes sooooo much further!
Feedly: My Recommended RSS Reader
Although there are a lot to choose from, I like Feedly the best. NOTE: Neither I nor Eccentric Dames Society is affiliated with Feedly in any way; this is just our recommendation). It’s 100% free (although there is a paid/pro version if you need additional features), it has smartphone and tablet apps, and you can also access it through a web browser. It has a clean interface and is very easy to use. Feedly is #1 on the list I linked above. Click here for a quick review of Feedly from an impartial site.
Setting Up Feedly and Adding Sites
First, you’ll need to create an account. You can login with your existing Google/Gmail account if you have one (which is what I did), or create a unique Feedly account with any other email address. You can also login with Facebook, but since you’re ditching Facebook, you don’t need that option, right? That’s the whole point! 😉
ADDING SITES TO YOUR CUSTOM FEED
Remember that list you jotted down of your liked pages on Facebook? You’ll need that now!
Once your account is set up and you’ve logged in, you can start adding pages. Start by typing in a web address if you know it, or a business/website name (Arrow 1). We hope you’ll start with Eccentric Dames Society!
Under “SOURCES,” click the top result (Arrow 2), which in the case of Eccentric Dames Society, will be all future blog posts. On the next screen, click “FOLLOW”:
A pop-up window will ask you to create a new feed, so click “New Feed”:
Next, it will ask you to create a name for your new feed, which can be a topic or category; this will help keep Feedly organized by topic. For this example, I chose “Blogs”:
You can click on the topic name to see all the posts from the feed. You’ll see an excerpt, and you can click on a title to view the entire article. Pretty cool! You can also click “MARK ALL AS READ” at the bottom if you like.
You can repeat this process for as many websites as you want. You can also search for topics and not specific websites; it’s a great way to discover new, relevant content. For example, I’ll use “Cooking” as a topic search. 1) Click ADD CONTENT on the bottom right. 2) Enter a topic or keyword. 3) Click the top result under TOPIC to browse available feeds.
You can scroll down to see all feeds. If you see one you like, click FOLLOW:
Click “NEW FEED”, then enter a new category name (or choose an existing one if you’ve been at this awhile! You’ll see that “Blogs” already exists in my example, so I could also click that, but here I want to start a new category for Cooking sites only):
Enter “Cooking” as your topic, then click “Create”:
“Cooking” will now show in your left column:
Your very own customized news feed
Now you have your very own customized news feed
Once you’ve added some websites to Feedly, you can either click on the individual sites under their categories, or click “ALL” under FEEDS, and VOILA: you will have your very own content delivery service, and you’ll only see topics YOU want to see! It’s a beautiful thing!
After you’ve set up Feedly, you can download the app on your smartphone or tablet. Apps are available for nearly every manufacturer you can think of; just visit your device’s app store to download (FREE!).
Yes, it’s a LOT of work to disentangle yourself from Facebook, but all this work will be worth it in the end if you’re committed. Dismiss your fears of losing contact…there are other ways to stay connected to people and content YOU want!
Have you thought about leaving Facebook, or have you actually DONE it? Let us know in the comments! XOXO!
A Note About the Free Feedly Version
The free version allows a maximum of three “feeds” (which you can think of as categories or topics) and 100 sources. You can always upgrade if you need more, but if you choose 3 broad/general categories, you should be able to organize all your sources. Just pick your three main favorite categories to begin with.
by Stacie Herndon
Stacie is a writer, graphic designer, and web developer. Legend has it that she was born old. She has always loved outrageous older ladies, often befriending them over people her own age. She is a devoted Francophile, loves a good Sauvignon Blanc and can mix a mean cocktail. She will have red hair until the day she departs this earth.