How to free yourself from the tyranny of Facebook and live a happy life

Lane Oatey / Blue Jean Images/blue jean images/Getty Images
ByTebany Yune

Facebook was once a place where college students nationwide could keep in touch with each other and catch up on the latest campus happenings. Now, the social media platform is a harbor for all sorts of hate groups, bad actors spreading misinformation, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories. The company has done as little as possible to moderate its own website, prompting big advertisers and celebrities to fight back by withdrawing from the platform.

Despite all this negative publicity, Facebook is still one of the most powerful companies in the world because its users are still there, supporting the site by continuing to log on. But if you're at the point where it feels downright grimy to be a Facebook user, or if you just feel like you're compulsively checking it to the detriment of other parts of your life, then perhaps it's time to delete your account.

Deleting vs. Deactivation

The company actually makes it stupidly confusing to delete a Facebook account. There are two different terms they toss around: Deactivating and deleting. Deactivation means temporarily disabling your account if you're going on a social media vacation or just going into hiding for a while. You'll still be on your friends' lists, and they can still reach you through Messenger, but your profile won't be available for viewing until you reactivate your account.

Deletion is the good, permanent stuff. You won't be able to get your account back once it's fully deleted. After 30 days, your posts and photos will be gone, you'll disappear from friends' lists and Messenger, and you won't be able to log into any third-party sites or apps that are linked to your Facebook account.

Tasks to do before deleting your Facebook account

Deletion is permanent, so here's a list of some things you might want to do before calling it quits.

Reach out to any friends and family members you'll want to keep in touch with. Ask for up-to-date phone numbers, emails, or third-party chat apps (like LINE or KakaoTalk) they might have so you don't have to cut yourself off from them. Hell, maybe you can even ask for an address so you can send them an old-school letter.

Consider downloading and saving the pictures you've posted as well. Instead of going through them one by one, the easiest way to get all of your pics at once is by downloading a copy of all your Facebook data. This will bundle up all the information Facebook has on you, including your photos, the times you've logged in, your ad preferences, the events you went to, your messages, and way more. You can find the option to download everything in the site's settings menu.

If you have any third party apps that you've linked with your Facebook account, you'll want to change that so you won't get locked out of a bunch of other accounts. Switch them over to your email or something else, if possible.

Lastly, you might want to revoke your Facebook app permissions from the apps you're currently or no longer using. You can find these options in the "Apps" menu located within your account settings.

How to delete your Facebook account

Finally, after all the tidying up, you're ready to delete your Facebook account. The company claims that all the data and posts you've made to the site will be deleted along with your account, but if you don't trust their word (and who could blame you?) you can go through and delete your pics and posts yourself.

Otherwise, head right into your Facebook settings page. Click on "Your Facebook Information" and select "Deactivation and Deletion" to get things going.

Select the "Permanently Delete Account" option and click on the blue "Continue to Account Deletion" button. Facebook is going to throw up warnings about the consequences of permanently deleting your account before proceeding. Don't get scared off. The consequences are probably less damaging to you than their refusal to remove false information and white supremacy groups.

Once you've made sure you have everything you want to keep already downloaded and you're ready to delete Facebook once and for all, go ahead and click "Delete Account."

The site will ask for your password for security and confirmation that it's you. Continuing from there will bring up one last (whew) message saying you'll have 30 days to change your mind before your account is gone forever. If you log-in again within those 30 days, it will restore your entire account.

What to do with all that spare time

My god, you're finally free. You don't have to check your Facebook every half-hour out of fear of missing anything. You don't have to stress over whether you should add your drama-dragging cousin or face the very dramatic fallout. It's gone.

Before you go and hop onto a different social media platform to replace your fix — Instagram is owned by Facebook, you know! — consider doing other things with your open time.

1. Go outside

If you're one of the lucky residents on the side of the U.S. that isn't a wildfire hellscape, and you've got a place where you can get some distance from people so as not to spread or get coronavirus, go out and get some fresh air. Go pull out that camping equipment, visit a park, go out on the balcony, or just sit next to the window and watch the scenery for a while.

Refresh your brain and your eyes by staring at something that isn't a screen.

2. Learn something new

How many times have you thought about picking up a new hobby, but you didn't? You just scrolled on by and forgot about it by burying yourself in more ads and one-minute videos.

It's time to change that. If you're interested in learning something new, reading a new book, or listening to a new album, go for it. Do it without the phone and without social media nearby. It'll help you relearn how to let your mind work without thoughts like "I should post that," or "what's the president doing now?" to interrupt your groove.

3. Walk or play with your pets

Come on, admit it. When was the last time you walked your dog or played with your cat without checking your cellphone at least once? Our BFFs (Best Fur Friends) deserve better than that.

It's not only good for our mental health, but our pets will appreciate it, too.