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Deleting Facebook: 'I wouldn’t date someone who wasn't on Facebook. They have secrets'

But when you leave Facebook, your attention span increases. You look around you. You notice things, writes Amanda Geard.

Amanda Geard Writer and geologist

I MET UP with a friend in a cafe a few weeks after deleting my Facebook account in 2010.

“I wouldn’t date someone who wasn’t on Facebook,” she said, “they have secrets.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” I frowned, rapidly developing a guilty conscience for something I wasn’t aware of. I wanted to delete my account to recoup time, sanity and privacy: would I really be viewed with suspicion?

At the end of the noughties, everyone who was anyone had a Facebook account. Now, in the wake of the latest data-scandal, thousands are calling time on the social media behemoth.

And, if you’re planning on going Facebook cold turkey, I should issue this caveat: your digital detox won’t be plain sailing, but it’s worth it in the end.

It could be bad for your career

A staggering 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring. Just like posting pictures of yourself at the beach on a sick day, permanently stepping out of social media can have a negative impact on your career.

To mitigate the damage, I joined LinkedIn. Most of the articles on the networking site are hardly clickbait and the endorphin hit rate is pretty low.

In short, LinkedIn isn’t addictive and doesn’t take up much time but it will preserve your online visibility.

Authorities thought I didn’t exist

In 2015, we were thinking of applying for an Australian partner visa for my fiancé. The cost of the application is horrendous and if you have any energy left after the kidney surgery then you need to begin gathering ‘evidence’.

Producing documents such as the receipt for your engagement ring, tickets for flights and joint utility bills is the norm. But a steady stream of evidence via your Facebook profile? That’s a winner for immigration officials to trawl through.

Except if you haven’t got one.

And with the US proposal to seek details of all social media activity from visa applicants having a Facebook account is becoming a prerequisite to being a valid member of society.

We’ve forgotten how to chat

When you’re on Facebook, everyone knows you’re doing great: you smile a lot and drink huge glasses of wine in the sunshine.

When I left Facebook, I got used to asking people: “How are you?” with genuine interest. I started to talk about real things in the real world, rather than chirpy status updates and heavily posed photo albums.

You’ll notice that you notice things

Since we upped sticks and moved to Ireland, we’ve had a steady stream of friends, friends of friends and relatives to stay.

And there’s nothing so great as playing host in Kerry, hiking over Valentia Island, cycling around the Beara Peninsula, and feasting on gourmet delights in picturesque towns. It’s magic.

But each time we stop to revel in the golden moments, phones are whipped out, and selfies crafted.

“Where are we again?” Erm, Dingle. You’ve just scoffed the ice-cream, guzzled the gin and met the dolphin. And if you look around, you’ll notice you’re in I-r-e-l-a-n-d.

When you no longer need to answer the call of the Facebook ping, your attention span increases. You look around you. You notice things. You’ll realise that even moments that aren’t posed, recoloured and posted online have value. More value.

When I deleted Facebook, I took the good with the bad. I felt left out initially, awkward even. Then as the gaping wound that Facebook made in my capacity to live in the moment closed and healed, I found that the real word was just as wonderful as when I left it.

And that’s the biggest secret of all.

Amanda Geard is a writer and geologist living in Kerry. Her work can be found at amandageard.contently.com.

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Amanda Geard  / Writer and geologist

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