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“I never once felt like I was missing out,” says Georgianna Scurfield who was well ahead of the curve when she deleted Facebook in 2015. Despite millennials like the 26-year-old being characterised as perpetually glued to their phones, the videographer from Nottingham is one of a growing number who are no longer relying on Zuckerberg’s social network to have a social life.
It is predicted that two million people under the age of 25 will stop using Facebook this year and, just last week, a survey of US Facebook users (aged 18 and over) found one in four had deleted the app from their phone. It seems more and more users are realising that the negatives (possible social media addiction, the rise of fake news, concerns about data harvesting) are not outweighing the positives.
Scurfield says she has a “cracking social life” and has lots of friends who she keeps in touch with by phoning or texting them. “In my opinion, if there’s an event or night out that I would only hear about because I have a Facebook account - I probably wouldn’t have turned up anyway.”
Eddie Tomalin, 32, from London, says his social life is better since ditching the platform. The marketing professional explains: “I’m way more inclined to meet up with people. You can still use technology to facilitate a friendship, but it doesn’t have to be the only place that relationship exists.”
Tomalin closed his Facebook account because, for him, the platform lost its identity. “In an effort to be the everything platform, it became a cobbled together, disheartening environment to be in and a hive of negativity in amongst cat videos and lots of repeated content,” he says. “I much prefer the old Facebook when it was about friends.”
He says Facebook Events was the hook that kept him on the platform for longer than necessary - and it’s likely he’s not alone, in 2016 there were 500 million people using the feature each month. “It wasn’t because the feature was good, it was just that I would miss out on social gatherings sometimes,” he explains. But that didn’t last long, as his friends also stopped using it and they now tend to organise meet-ups on Whatsapp.
It’s easy to think you’d experience ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) once coming off such a platform, but Tomalin disagrees: “Nope, it’s not time well spent. When you put the time in and get so little out, it’s time to move on.”
Whether it’s arranging to meet a pal for coffee, organising a pub trip with colleagues or planning a party; most of the time you can do these things offline. Or at the very least through other apps designed solely for event planning.
Doodle lets people create polls to help them decide on dates and places to meet with mates. It’s proven popular, too. In 2014 there were 750,000 polls made in the UK. Fast forward to 2018 and a staggering two million Doodle polls have been created - and the year isn’t even over yet.
There’s also PlanSnap, a new app hoping to fill the Facebook Events void, which helps people organise their social life. “We get everyone to agree on the details of a plan - who, what, where, when - so it can actually happen,” CEO Louise Doherty tells me in an email.
It’s simple to use, you start a rough plan (what, where, when), you invite people (even those without the app can join in), and then everyone muddles in to plan the event properly using a messenger, not too dissimilar to Whatsapp.
Interestingly, younger people seem to be turning to Instagram to keep their connections alive. Chelsea Davis, 23, gave up Facebook and says Insta is now her main source for chatting to friends and organising meet-ups, along with Whatsapp. The marketing manager from London says removing Facebook has had no impact on her social life at all, as many of her friends have followed suit.
There are also those who couldn’t quite take the plunge to delete Facebook in its entirety. Gerry Mullan, 55, from Edgehead, Scotland, still uses Messenger as he’s in several group chats on there - including for the band he’s in.
“In terms of impact on my social life, I’ve probably missed out more on what people are doing rather than specific events,” he explains. “I still use Messenger and I’m in several groups set up to keep me informed.
“I wouldn’t say my social life has suffered, I’m still aware of things going on that I need to be. I tend to use these Messenger groups and a combination of Whatapp messages and good old-fashioned texts to keep up to speed.”