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Up until three months ago, a good portion of my free time was spent on Facebook. I would mindlessly scroll through my newsfeed, check out pictures from the past weekend, or skim over a kindergarten classmate’s profile (whom I hadn’t talked to since we ate crayons together). I turned to Facebook whenever I needed a quick break or distraction. And I loved that . . . until recently.

Cue heart-wrenching breakup with my long-term (and at the time, long-distance) boyfriend just weeks after I visited him abroad. And while he was off living a decidedly glam post-breakup life in Europe, I was stuck at home, forced to confront my everyday life, which suddenly featured a giant gaping hole where he had been.

Enter my impulsive decision to take a Facebook Hiatus. Spoiler alert: I haven’t looked back since.

Here’s how it happened: Unlike your typical girl going through a breakup in a typical chick flick, I didn’t eat ice cream by the carton, have movie marathons, or spend time with my girlfriends. In fact, I did find myself avoiding all of the above. I was the host and only guest to my pity party, spending time on Facebook comparing my sorry situation to everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives. Pictures of friends (and my now ex-boyfriend) going out, traveling, and just being happy, flooded my newsfeed. My life felt SO different from that. Seeing these images made me feel like my emotions weren’t legitimate; it seemed that no matter how crushed and upset I was, I should pull myself together and put myself back out there, just like everyone else.

However, I decided to live by a value I learned at summer camp a few years ago: “feel the way I feel until you don’t feel that way anymore.” Seems simplistic and obvious, right? But it was so applicable to my situation. Yes, my boyfriend had broken up with me and I was sad. I was allowed to be sad. Just because everyone else was going out and traveling and having a blast didn’t mean that I had to force myself to follow suit; I could engage, or disengage, however I wanted. I realized that instead of being a quick break or distraction, Facebook had become detrimental to my daily life: in a time that demanded self-reflection and self-care, I was constantly comparing myself to the idealized versions of other people. How could I not fall short, with those edited lives as my reference point?  So, with the click of a few buttons, I deactivated my Facebook account, stopped focusing on what others were doing, and began my personal Facebook Hiatus.

Here are the two main things that I noticed:

  • First thing’s first: I had SO much extra time on my hands. Those 10-15 minute Facebook sessions over the course of the day seriously add up! So I started to spend my time in more fulfilling ways. All those things I’d been wanting to do but “didn’t have time for” actually happened, like experimenting with new recipes, catching up with old friends, and going to minor league baseball games. I’m loving all of these new experiences. Who knew there are so many new things to try in a town you’ve lived in for years?
  • Secondly, Facebook is where we go to construct completely unrealistic versions of ourselves. I started tuning in to conversations around me about Facebook, and they were illuminating. My peers kept saying things like “I’m trying to get a new profile pic out of (insert fun event)” or “Make sure that doesn’t end up on Facebook, I look awful!” It frustrated me. I realized how much effort people were putting into making their Facebook profiles look like their lives were flawless. Reality check: they’re not.  (I mean, who really spends every day in a field of sunflowers with their significant other?!)

A few weeks into my hiatus, freshly invigorated from my newfound leisure time and cognizant of Facebook’s ability to create fake perfection, I felt ridiculous that just a few weeks earlier, I had been comparing my post-breakup blues with the curated versions of my friends. I just hadn’t been fair to myself.

Reflecting on the past three months, I see a more engaged and present version of myself. I don’t feel a need to document everything I do with pictures so everyone can comment, like, and approve of me on Facebook. Instead, I’ve had a greater appreciation for what I’m doing in the moment and the company I keep. By eliminating something that was preventing me from being okay with being myself, I’m starting on the curvy journey toward self-acceptance.

Wondering what your life would be like with some form of a social media hiatus? Consider these challenges:

1)   Set daily limits on how long/ often you check Facebook. Feel any different? (Studies have shown that Facebook negatively affects emotional state!)
2)   Try deactivating your account for a short period of time, or update your status letting friends know you’re taking a break for a week.
3)   Try 99 Days of Freedom and see how taking a break from Facebook affects your happiness!
4)   Make a commitment to try something you’ve always wanted to this week- and every time you log onto Facebook, remind yourself you’re stealing time from discovering your potential new passion. 

Have you taken a Facebook hiatus? How’d it go? Share your story in the comments!

Jenna Gorlick is a senior university student studying psychology and entrepreneurship. When she’s not studying or cheering on her university team, Jenna can be found trying out new sushi spots, crafting for her apartment, or reading. Originally from South Florida, Jenna grew up surrounded by people who were preoccupied with creating a perfect self-image, which fueled her interest in health, wellness, and food related issues. Since starting university, Jenna has become involved in research about defining recovery from eating disorders, which has furthered her interest in the health world. In the summer of 2013, Jenna worked for the Food Research and Action Center, where she was an advocate for anti-hunger policy and food related issues. This past summer, Jenna was an Editorial Intern at CurvyGirlHealth. Specifically, Jenna is interested in factors influencing body image, different treatment methods for eating disorders (particularly nutritionally based treatments), and the media’s (both mass and social) effect on women’s self-image. Jenna plans to attend graduate school for nutrition and pursue a career as a Registered Dietitian. read more about
  • Laricca

    I totally agree with you Jenna regarding the amount of wasted time on Facebook. I recently broke up with FB and haven’t looked back. This isn’t my first hiatus however. The first break up lasted over a year. This one I hope is much longer.