A majority of Facebook users say they sometimes take breaks from the social network because they feel bored or overwhelmed, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which surveyed 1,006 U.S. adults about their online habits.
Pew found that 61% of Facebook users say they have taken fairly substantial breaks (i.e., several weeks long) from the site. Among the most popular reasons for taking breaks from Facebook were “too busy/don’t have time,” at 21%; “just wasn’t interested/didn’t like it,” at 10%; “waste of time/content not relevant,” at 10%; and “too much drama/negativity/gossip,” at 9%. Meanwhile 8% said they were “spending too much time on the site,” 7% said they “just got bored/tired” of the site, a mere 4% said they were motivated by privacy concerns or SPAM, and a slender 2% said it was because Facebook “isn’t real life.” Finally, 6% gave that most sweeping of indictments, “just because.”
Pew also recorded comments from respondents explaining why they took Facebook breaks. This typical sample included: “I was tired of stupid comments,” “It was not getting me anywhere,” “Too much drama,” “People were posting what they had for dinner,” and “It caused problems in my romantic relationship.”
What’s more, the trend of Facebook breaks seems to be growing: among Facebook users ages 18-29 surveyed by Pew, 42% said they spend less time on Facebook than a year ago, while 34% of respondents ages 30-49 said the same. Overall 27% of respondents said they plan to spend less time on Facebook this year compared to last year, rising to 38% among Facebook users ages 18-29.
By the way, while we’re on the subject of “drama,” a new separate study published by the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences found that, as you might expect, some people will avoid you if you unfriend them on Facebook. The survey of 583 people, conducted on Twitter by Christopher Sibona, a grad student at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, found that 40% of respondents said they would avoid someone after being unfriended by them on Facebook. That compares to 50% who said they would not avoid a person who unfriended. People were more likely to avoid someone after being unfriended if the person mentioned the event after it happened or if they believed the unfriending was due to their offline behavior.