A Farewell To Facebook?

sad faceApart from my People’s Friend serial competition entry and, of course, this blog, I’ve not written much for a few weeks now. Which makes me feel sad 😦

Oh – and just to add to that, I got FOUR short story rejections today…
Yeeehaar. (this is the antithesis of a Facebook post, isn’t it? More about that in a minute..)

Anyway, I think my lack of productivity and inspiration is due to:

1. Neglecting my Morning Pages and my Artist’s Dates
2. Going out/away too much (I know, I know. Your heart bleeds for me).
3. Not spending enough time on my own (ditto?)
4. Not finishing anything (probably because of 1 – 3)
5. Spending too much time on social media, reading about everyone else’s successes, which seems to paralyse me when it comes to my own writing.

Now, number 5 may sound a bit melodramatic but I’ve been growing increasingly dissatisfied with Facebook, in particular, for a while now.

In fact, last week, when Alex Gazzola posted ‘Volte Facebook‘ on his website, I left a comment saying how Facebook sometimes (often!) makes me feel glum.

Apart from being a complete time-waster (which makes me feel guilty. It’s like gorging on a huge piece of chocolate gateau: great when you’re in the middle of it but afterwards you think why, why, why?!), I find that Facebook is full of people either moaning or showing-off and it makes me panic that I’m not writing as much – or achieving as much – as everyone else is (apparently!).

The night after I’d posted my comment on Alex’s blog, there was a piece on Newsnight about some research into Facebook, by the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark (Denmark, by the way, often comes out top in surveys of ‘the world’s happiest country’).

It’s not the first research of this kind, of course but it was serendipitous that I saw it (I never normally watch Newsnight) just as I’d come to the same conclusion as the research: that Facebook can make you unhappy.

“Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else’s great news, but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain,” said Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. “This makes the Facebook world, where everyone’s showing their best side, seem even more distortedly bright by contrast..”

Now, the guinea pigs were only asked to abstain from Facebook for a week, which you might think isn’t that long (although for those people who are on it constantly, it probably felt like forever), but the results showed that in that time, the abstainers ‘felt calmer’, ‘actually spoke to people on the phone’ and ‘spend time more productively’. The researchers also found that giving up Facebook ‘boosts happiness and reduces anger and loneliness.’

So, I’m seriously thinking about deleting my Facebook presence and going cold turkey, just in time for Christmas…

danish flag

This entry was posted in Artist's Dates, Finding Time To Write, Magazines, Short Stories and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to A Farewell To Facebook?

  1. rosgemmell says:

    I can definitely see what you mean, Helen, and every now and then I want to withdraw from social media for a while (especially the weekend just past) but I usually jump back in. I do enjoy the interaction with so many lovely writers but I know I’d get far more work done if I shut it off for regular periods. Not sure if I’m ready for that yet, though!

  2. CJ says:

    Do you find that morning pages help? I’ve just started trying them, although I need to research them a little more first and find out exactly what I’m supposed to be writing, and how much. I’m hoping they will make me more productive!

    • Hi. I have neglected these but they do work. They are promoted in the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. You write three pages of anything, diary happenings, feelings, just anything that goes through your mind and it clears the mind. I now see that Helen has responded. Do try it.

  3. Yes, I find they help clear my mind and get rid of ‘rubbish’! But you have to do them for a couple of weeks before you start to feel the effect (in my experience). It’s 3 pages a day (I do 3 of A4, which takes about 25 mins). You have to write them by hand too. See the website for more info: http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/

  4. Julie Lees says:

    I agree with your sentiments entirely. This is why I have been so reluctant to join Facebook in the past, and your post has now made me realise I never should. The reality of people’s lives are often far removed from their Facebook persona. Not for me, I’m afraid.

  5. Well said, Julie – stay well away from the Evil One! You’re not missing anything, honestly.. (hmm, apart from lots of nice videos of kittens!)

  6. Wendy Clarke says:

    If it’s any consolation, Helen, I haven’t written as much this month and I’m sure it’s a reaction to hearing everyone talking on FB about NaNo and how much they’ve written for it. It sort of froze my brain!

  7. simonwhaley says:

    I haven’t written much recently, but then I’m busy judging two short story competitions at present! I find myself flitting between Facebook and Twitter. Some Facebook groups are useful. But I’ve been concentrating more on my own website recently. Might as well play about with something I understand a bit more of whatever it is I’m doing!

  8. Debbie W says:

    I have a Facebook account but rarely use it. It can be useful as another means if I’ve something I want a lot of people to know but I do think the constant bombardment of information from others is a time bandit. I’d advise you keep your account and only use it now and again, to send out info occasionally and to catch up with what others are doing. My advice is don’t hang around there for more than 10 mins at a time.

    I would suggest that for some people Facebook can help reduce loneliness eg the housebound.

  9. Jacula says:

    I love my Facebook account because I talk on the private message part most days to my daughter and to old schoolfriends, and to far-flung around the world family members. I’ve got my personal page pretty much locked-up so it’s only for friends (mostly old friends and new ones from the writing community) and family members. My daughter tells me the only reason she stays on Facebook is to talk to me and to her best friend, and to one of our mutual writing friends. I enjoy sharing cat photos and news etc., on my own page and joining in with various writing groups, but I never let it dominate my day (well, not often, unless I spend too long playing ‘my’ group games on there). Facebook is a good thing if you use it wisely. xxx

    • I can see that Facebook is great if you use it to private message people, like you do or to stay in touch with friends/family in other parts of the world. I’m sure, as someone else has said, it’s great if people are isolated and want to feel more ‘connected’. It’s not that, that I object to – it’s just all the other junk on there, invading my head space!!!

  10. I can empathise with you on this, Helen. It does seem like everyone else is being wildly successful! However, I think FB has it’s place in keeping in touch with groups of people that you can’t see very often. But like that chocolate cake, it’s everything in moderation! FB is a much friendlier place to be than Twitter in my opinion.

    • I suppose, the thing is, I don’t really want Facebook for ‘friends’. I have friends in the ‘real world’ (including you!) and I’ve got virtual friends through blogging and other ‘real’ friends that I’m in occasional email contact with, so that’s enough for me. I like Twitter for short, snappy information exchanges though.

  11. Ninette says:

    Helen, I have done it…I have deactivated my Facebook account, I did it yesterday. I know that this will mean less contact with what’s going on in the writing world and world in general – or will it? I can still follow blogs, email friends, speak on Skype, see photographs of my family on photo stream, use my phone and maybe even write a letter or two! I found I was wasting time looking at Facebook and many status updates made me cross, sad, jealous and any number of other emotions. I was not writing as much as I should and I was spending far too much time reading rubbish on Facebook and being tempted to link into other parts of the cyber world. The crux for me came last weekend when people were changing their Facebook profile image to blue/white/red to show solidarity with France. Nothing wrong with that, except two minutes later to update your status with ‘Champagne tonight, yippee…thank goodness it’s the weekend,’ or other such trite really riled me. Also, a couple of weeks ago I posted an update to inform extended family and friends about an event, one member of the family posted, ‘do auntie and uncle ***** know about this, they’re not on Facebook and they would want to know.’ I was shocked to think that this person thought Facebook was the only means of communication! Of course auntie and uncle knew, I had phoned them! Well, I’ve had my little rant about Facebook, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I’ll let you know how I get on without it and how many people read my blog when promoting it will have to be done via routes other than Facebook.

  12. Nicola says:

    Helen, you are not alone!!! I know the feeling well – receiving rejections stings and can doubly sting when one reads the successes of others. We are generally happy for those who are hitting the mark, but one cannot but ask: When will it be my turn? After a wonderfully productive September and the first couple of weeks in October, I too have hit a slump and have been beating myself for not writing much. I’ve tried to start editing my novel (which has been lingering for almost a year now) but I simply don’t want to get stuck in. However, something out of the ordinary happened yesterday which has sparked an idea for a story which I intend to plan and outline today. I will write about it on my blog this week (something else I neglected to do last week). Try not to be sad for too long. You write exceptionally well and I look forward to reading about your future successes.

    Facebook is not for me. Tried it twice over the years, got bored very easily. I much prefer meeting people face-to-face and actually socialising in the real world. I also love to talk on the phone.

    Have a good week. All the best.

    • Thanks Nicola. A ‘slump’, that’s definitely what it is! But the good thing about slumps, is that they come and then they go…! Glad to hear that you’ve got the spark of an idea. That’s all we need, isn’t it? Good luck with it!

  13. Julia says:

    First, accept that on FaceBook EVERYBODY LIES. Nobody is that happy! Second, you can use it without it using you. Don’t have the tab open at the top of the screen, or at least turn off the sound so you don’t hear notifications landing. Don’t read anything that has been shared unless it’s of direct relevance – eg writing comp news, or exciting event happening locally. Use your settings to stop receiving stuff you don’t want to see. Avoid anything that invovles dancing animals or that has the words ‘Bet this doesn’t get shared’ in it. It’s like all vices: you need to exercise a little willpower.

    • Ah, but do I have the willpower..?! I don’t think I do! But thanks for your comment, Julia. I agree that people lie. I have a friend currently going through a difficult time but you’d never guess it from his Facebook posts – looks like he’s got the best life ever! (but I know the truth..!)

  14. Patsy says:

    Thing is we only post stuff which seems like news or which we feel strongly about so it’s either good news (which might cause jealousy or make other people’s lives seem less good in some way) or they post sad or upsetting stuff which brings everyone down. It’s like beeing with a friend who has constant mood swings all the time – emotionally draining.

  15. I gave up Facebook for about two years. Deleted my account! But after a few months I began using my husbands account to catch up on all the typical FB news. Friends on holiday, their photos, nights out etc. It then became ‘our’ FB account until it was almost ‘just mine’. When my husband realised that he only knew about 50% of his FB friends, he told me to bog off and get my own! I abstained again for a few months. I didn’t really miss it but when I started blogging and writing I decided to open up a whole new account. And I have to say, it’s where most of my blog traffic comes from. I like FB for some groups that I’m involved in and I do learn from them. I ignore the drama but I love keeping in touch with people I wouldn’t normally see. I think it’s like everything else – in moderation. I know what you mean though about the awful feeling after spending too much time scrolling and scrolling! Why have I just wasted a half an hour of my precious time? 🙂
    I haven’t posted anything on my blog in a couple of weeks either. But I refuse to feel guilty about this any more. It’s only because my time is spent writing other stuff. I used to almost cry if I missed a week of blogging. I ventured into Nanowrimo this year. Oh boy……..
    Love your blog by the way!!

  16. I feel FB is turning me into something I have never been – bloody miserable. In future I’m using it only for personal messages but even then I prefer email or telephone.

  17. Mary Ann Gerber says:

    Mmmm, facebook. About every ten days I check up on my friends and family, add a comment here and there, join in the occasional debate, and that’s it. I really don’t feel the need to see what somebody is having for breakfast, or hear about lost car keys. I don’t think anybody wants to know when I’ve got a cold coming on. In the days before facebook I didn’t phone around my little world and leave a running commentary, I was too busy, and I’m too busy now. I love the fact that I can tune in to loved ones and see how things are going, but to think about devoting time to it every day when I have so much else to occupy me – not a chance. When I say ” busy ” , I don’t mean that I’m bustling about doing worthy things, I mean that I’m sorting out my new Old House, reading, writing, cooking, sewing, doing hated but necessary chores, watching some TV, trundling around the garden in my wellies and pyjama bottoms, going for walks, shopping, and now we have the big run down to Christmas. Facebook has to take a place in the queue.

    • Thanks for your comment, Mary Ann. I agree with you that Facebook is useful for keeping up with friends and family BUT everytime I go on it, I can’t help see all the other cr*p and that’s what I object to!

  18. Lesley Dawson says:

    Hi Helen. I deactivated my Facebook account a couple of days ago. I enjoyed keeping up with all the posts about writing but, like you, I was drawn into all sorts of other issues. I found myself getting angry and sad at the hateful comments I was seeing, particularly about the plight of refugees and racism in general. I can follow world events in the News on t.v. and in the newspapers instead and, without Facebook, I can use that valuable time to get on with my own writing. Like the people in the research, you mentioned, who went without Facebook for a week, I feel a lot calmer … and that’s after only two days. 🙂

  19. I did a short piece on my own blog a few months ago about a trial for teenagers not using social media for 2 weeks. What was a real eye-opener was one girl’s comment that by not being able to use FB etc. she suddenly found time to read a book! Says it all, I fear.

  20. Hi Helen this would make good article for a writing mag: positives and negatives of FB? I don’t get down on FB, I mainly use it for promotional purposes.

  21. I don’t think you need to deactivate your account. I know someone who did that in a fit of pique when someone upset her and regretted it and now she is trying to get friends on a new page. She lost photos, likes etc. I have a personal page where I post about my cat Mollie, a rescue, and I know that many follow these with interest. I have a writer page which I use to mention signings, events and share posts about wrting in general. I do post photos if I have been to a writing event but often share them to my personal page. I have some particular ‘hates’ on Facebook. One is photos of people sticking their tongues out. It makes me so angry and I want to defriend them. The other is the post that comes round about checking who is reading your post and asking you to cut and paste. I just comment ‘I don’t do these’. The third is ‘share if you are proud of/have a wonderful daughter/dog/friend’ whatever. I really don’t need to do this for my daughters and friends to know I am proud of them and I think it is sad when people do that. It reflects more on them than the person not following it up. It is a timewaster so I prefer Twitter for promoting writing and getting reviews. However, we do have local FB pages which are brilliant for knowing what is going on and I often join in debate on local issues. They say the best way to keep writing is to use a device disconnected from the internet but what happens when you suddenly need to check some research. I wouldn’t deactivate Helen, I would just not fire up Facebook. I have stopped getting notifications by email and it has changed my Facebook behaviour. Worth a try.

  22. I feel partly responsible for this! Sorry Helen … 🙂
    I’m relatively new to Facebook, but I only use it (and Twitter) for ‘business’ on the whole. Although I have a personal Facebook account, it remains in practice wholly unused – it’s only there to act as a necessary ‘administrator’ for my Facebook pages, which are work-related. I don’t like or friend anyone on this personal account, and don’t allow anyone to like or friend me! Because I thereby avoid all the chit chat and personal stuff and don’t follow friends or family – I’m largely untroubled by the issues described in the many fascinating comments above that users have left.
    I’d urge anyone thinking of giving up ‘personal’ Facebook to consider ‘professional’ Facebook pages instead. It does mean that you can’t like or comment on personal accounts and streams, but you can on other business pages, and that works for me, as I only want to talk shop – not personal stuff!

  23. colinperry1 says:

    Facebook has its place in moderation. But you don’t have to get involved in every debate you see going on; you don’t have to click on every link which appears on your newsfeed.

    The temptation is always there, but it only takes a little discipline to steer clear.

    I’m careful too about accepting friend requests from people I scarcely know, or even don’t know at all.

    And always keep in mind people’s tendency to post only their good news, giving an unrealistically rosy picture of life. I found this recent LinkedIn post a useful reminder:


    • Colin, yes you are right, of course. It’s amazing how many people have told me it’s just a case of ‘a little discipline’! Clearly, you are all much more disciplined than me!! The LinkedIn post was good, I enjoyed that – thanks (and no, I’m NOT on LinkedIn! Success!)

  24. I don’t have a Facebook account – or Twitter – I have enough distractions in the real world! I also have plenty of other ways of keeping in touch with family and genuine friends.
    Yes, social media can be useful. Facebook helped my husband find a friend he lost touch with 30 years ago when the friend emigrated to New Zealand, but now they’re busy catching up through private phone calls and emails.
    But writing is for the most part a solitary occupation so I do enjoy ‘meeting’ other writers through blogging (although I don’t follow those that only shout ‘Buy my book!’ in every post). So I hope you’re not thinking of giving up this blog. 🙂

  25. Absolutely not, Linda! (not giving up the blog). I enjoy it too much and it’s not the same – to me, at least – as Facebook at all. Thanks for dropping by!

  26. KateHogan says:

    As someone who’s been struggling with the decision of whether or not to venture into the modern world of Facebook and Twitter, I’m beginning to feel quite glad I couldn’t really be bothered with it all – I never joined so now I don’t have to worry about leaving! What a lot of comments though – lots of food for thought (sorry about the cliche!). All good wishes. Kate Hogan

  27. Keith Havers says:

    I’ve never bothered with Facebook but I find Twitter is o.k. I like learning about other people’s successes and bragging about my own. Keep doing this blog though, Helen.

  28. Hi, Helen, facebook gets on my pip as well. The worst for me is when someone will say, ‘I’m not going to be on here anymore, too busy’ then before you know it they’re back. ‘Here’s me.. blah blah blah. Not that I’m bitter or twisted either, but for goodness sake, and showing us what they’ve had for tea can be tedious as well. Probably best if I didn’t go on there at all. I prefer twitter, and blogging. I never wanted to join facebook, but I got a telephone job where we had to help people with their facebook accounts, so they told me I had to join up to see how it worked. Think it was more for them to keep an eye on what we were up to on the internet more than anything though.

    • Susan, that made me smile! I know what you mean about ‘people’ who say they’re too busy and the next minute, they’re back! What’s all that about? Attention-seeking, or just so addicted to Facebook that they can’t stay away? It all just seems so false. People say it’s ‘friendly’ but I don’t find it particularly so. Most people are either boasting or promoting themselves in some way! Pah! Don’t like it! 😦

  29. Jo Derrick says:

    I’m so glad I found this post, Helen, because I’ve been struggling to write the last few months (I blame that Arvon Course I went on) and seeing other people’s successes on Facebook makes me feel even more blocked. I haven’t had an acceptance or good competition news in ages, but I know it’s because I haven’t been submitting much either. I waste far too much time on Facebook and the only reason I haven’t deleted my account is because I like chatting to my son and my writer friend, Alison for free and I like to see my son’s latest music videos. Many congratulations on winning The People’s Friend Serial Competition. I’m sure it gave you the boost you needed!

  30. Jo, thanks for your comment – and your congratulations. Writing is a funny old game isn’t it – one minute we’re down in the dumps, the next minute (perhaps only very briefly!) we’re on cloud nine. I suppose that’s why it’s important to celebrate the successes when they do come along! I know how you’ve been feeling. Why not try limiting yourself to x minutes of Facebook a day (apart from messages to your friend and son) and see if that helps? I don’t know what it is, but even when I read that other people are writing (ie: not even publishing/winning stuff) it makes me feel left out and unproductive and just generally cr*p!

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