6 weeks without Facebook

4 Things I Have Learned, and 5 Things I Have Been Doing Instead of Logging Into Facebook

I accidentally quit using Facebook for the past 6 weeks.  I didn’t have a meltdown, get pissed, and storm away.  I just sorta quit looking at stuff there and slipped away quietly.  It’s been nice not being there.  I will go back at some point - I’m not quitting the site, and this isn’t a rant about the horrors of Facebook - but I’m not in a hurry to jump back in, either.  Life is too short, and there are other things I want to do.

I’m not really anti-social per se, but I have become more introverted and less social-media-engaged as I’ve gotten older.  And that’s a funny thing, considering that my passion is to take photos, blog about them and the associated travels, and then share them.  Online.

In some ways, what I like to do and what I “need to do” to promote my photography are not aligned.  I like (love, actually) taking the photos and processing them, and writing about them, and all that goodness.  It fills my soul, actually.  I need to do it.

But all the social media stuff is exhausting, and feels like a “supposed to”.  And truthfully, it’s not that fun.  It’s work.  While I am not opposed to the idea of work, usually work has a tangible return, or at least an emotional reward of some sort.  Social media doesn’t really do that for me.  Or at least Facebook doesn’t.

I was on a business trip at the end of June (which kept me really busy), and as soon as I returned we took off on our family road trip.  Before I knew it I came to the realization that I had not gone to the site or shared any of my posts on Facebook in a while.  

I also realized that I didn’t care.  So I just kept not going to the site.

One of my big concerns over the years was that if I did not share my photography on social media (with Facebook being the primary place) that no one would find my “stuff” and my blog would dwindle and die a horrible, neglected death in a dark corner of the internet.  So I dutifully logged in and shared things.

But I have learned a couple of things over this 6 week period that are worth knowing:

  • Search is way more important than social media in driving my blog traffic (~80% of traffic comes from search vs ~3% from all social media sites combined)
  • Popularity on social media isn’t my goal
  • I’m happier, more productive and have more free time to invest in my creativity
  • I don’t miss all the meaningless updates

Do I miss any of it?  Sure.  I miss seeing all the great photos and updates from all the great photography friends I have and photographers that I follow on the site.  I miss seeing and occasionally participating in the various conversations around photography, travel, gear, and the like.

And...that’s about it.  So yeah, maybe I am a little anti-social after all.

So what have I been doing instead?  Loads of stuff.  I am with my family on a multi-week road trip across the US, which has been fabulous in a lot of ways. 

Here’s how I am spending my time:

1) Taking photos

This may be very obvious, but it’s true - I have been taking loads of photos on the road trip.  Arizona, the California coast, southern Oregon, and now along the coast in northern Oregon.  After here, we are headed to Seattle and Friday Harbor, WA and then turning back towards Texas (with a few stops planned on the way home).  I’ve shot amazing sunsets and so much more.  So far I am well over 4,000 photos with quite a bit more coming (and over 1,000 with the iPhone, many of which have already made it onto Flickr).

2) Processing photos

As I tend to be a morning person, I get up earlier than everyone else and start processing photos.  I’ve been doing that every morning, and it’s awesome.  I’m getting 10-15 processed each day.  I get a creative start to my day, then go explore stuff with the family the rest of the day and have fun.  It’s a great way to kick off each day, and it’s getting me further ahead of my goals for the year.

3) Writing

In some ways I have gotten away from writing as much here on the blog as I intend to.  Part of it is time constraints, and part is that I have so many photos to share, which are quicker and easier for me to prepare and post than writing up a lengthy article.  But I have been writing more lately, and it feels great.  I’m also coming up with more things to write about, which I will be working on and sharing when ready!

4) Reading

I used to read a lot, but my photography has consumed so much of my free time that reading has taken a back seat.  But I’ve been doing more of it lately, and it’s pretty awesome.  The simple joy of reading for pleasure is something I had forgotten about.

5) Thinking

With my usual hectic schedule, I rarely spend time just thinking about stuff.  But I’ve had more time for that lately and - just like reading - this is a great way to disengage from the “have to” stuff and just chill.  And my thoughts flow between thinking about the little stuff (I hope sunset is nice; I’m hungry; where did the dog run off to?) to the bigger things (do we want to live somewhere else?  where else do we want to travel to? what do I want to do with my life?), and everything in between.

(In addition to the above, we hike a lot, do touristy things like ride bikes on the beach, and just hang out.  And guess what?  IT'S AWESOME.)

While many people manage all of the above AND post frequently on Facebook, I did not.  It just seemed like I was mindlessly scrolling on the site and really not getting much in return - and not getting some things done (which quite frankly are more important to me and certainly more rewarding).

I will say that I have been sharing photos all this time on Flickr, and will continue to do so.  I really enjoy that site, though I will admit that I am not super-engaged there.  I have put more photos on Pinterest, which isn’t so bad after all and the nice thing is that the posts there seem to have a longer shelf-life than on FB.  I drop a photo here and there on Trover, which is an interesting site and has been fun so far.  Once in a while I will post on Instagram.  Otherwise, I just blog here and work on personal photography projects.  It’s been great.

What does all this mean?  I don’t really know.  

I’m changing and continuing to figure out what I want to do in this short life we are all given, and mindlessly logging into FB isn’t what I want to spend much time on.  I’ve realized that I don’t want to be dependent on social media for my blog, and at 3% of my blog traffic, you could say that I have achieved it already.  LOL

I don’t know where I am going with this post, other than just sharing my thoughts on why I haven’t been on Facebook for a while.  I doubt I have been missed though, with all the other noise there.  I will return at some point, I just don't know when.  I guess I felt compelled to write about this, since some of you may follow my posts there.  I just wanted to say that instead of scrolling through the stuff on FB, I have been out in the wide world working on my craft, traveling, hiking, enjoying my family and having a life.  It's pretty refreshing, actually!

And no, I'm not going to go share this post on Facebook.  That would be ironic, wouldn't it?  :-)

Thanks for listening.  I’m going to do something creative now.  See you back here on the blog real soon!