I have been a member of Facebook for well over a decade. To begin with it was a mild distraction which I would log into every few days, to contact a friend or look at some photos. But over the years I have become acutely aware of my growing addiction, and at times I would find myself scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I should have been focusing on a piece of work, or giving something else my full attention. It was wasting time and my concentration was suffering, and it was obvious I needed to do something about it. The perfect opportunity presented itself when my six-year-old daughter suggested I give up something for Lent…
The first step was to uninstall the Facebook app from my phone, and log myself out of the platform on my computer. Beforehand I also changed my password to something tricky and unmemorable, so that it would take a bit of effort to regain access. These all proved worthwhile measures!
Without a shadow of doubt, it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience which I am very pleased I’ve done. Here are a few things I’ve discovered along the way…
I haven’t missed my Facebook newsfeed…at all!
I thought going cold turkey would be a lot harder than it really was. In actual fact, I think it was a relief to finally have Facebook removed from my daily life. I’d been aware that over the past few months particularly, approximately 80% of my newsfeed had been bait headlines rather than updates from my friends, and so there was very little to miss.
Initially my phone felt a little redundant (I rarely use it for web browsing), and I’d pick it up before realising I had little use for it. I was tempted to transfer my addiction to another social network such as Instagram, which admittedly I’ve looked at a little more, but I’ve been good at keeping it under control.
I have enjoyed a renewed sense of privacy and freedom
I have always been more of a ‘lurker’ than a publisher on Facebook, occasionally sharing a photo of a happy moment, but not too often. Despite this it’s still been liberating to have my life completely disconnected from Facebook for the first time in a while, and equally, to not have the lives of others distracting my thoughts.
The urge to share a moment on Facebook is completely gone. I’m no longer mulling over potential status updates in my head. There is a certain freedom of mind that comes with this.
I have read more books
I was keen to replace my ‘Facebook time’ with something more productive. Above all, it’s meant I’m less distracted in my work and when I’m with my children, but also, there are times when I would turn to Facebook simply because I needed an activity to fill a few waiting minutes. In those times I’ve chosen to pick up a book instead. I have always been a big reader, but nowadays it’s harder to find the time. But with the absence of Facebook I’ve found a renewed vigour for reading, as I’m managing to get through books more quickly. I’ve even experimented with tandem reading, where I have a few books scattered around the house and home office to pick up and read a few pages of, during moments of downtime. It’s working out well, and I’ve inspired some other friends to do the same already.
I’ve been more productive
As a home worker, I’ve always been at liberty to check my Facebook feed throughout my working day. It had become my go-to escape when my concentration was flagging, which was beginning to impact on my productivity. I’ve noticed that over the past month, I’ve been less easily distracted when working, and my output has noticeably increased. I’m a lot more focused, and when I take a break, it’s a proper break away from my screen. I’ve recently gone back to using the Pomodoro technique as well, which I think has been inspired by my Facebook experiment.
Conversation with friends is more interesting
How many conversations begin, “you probably saw on Facebook that…”? For the first time in years, I genuinely don’t know what’s been happening in people’s lives, unless I’ve spoken to them in person. It’s so much nicer to have a proper catch-up with someone by phone or in person, than to see their life through status updates.
The absence of Facebook has meant that I’ve needed to work harder to keep in contact with some people, and likewise, they with me. It’s a great way of discovering who your real friends are!
I have missed a couple of important pieces of news
In all honesty, I don’t really know what I have ‘missed’ over this past month, but the earth is still rotating and the sun is still rising, so it can’t be that much.
There were a couple of incidents that made me want to leap onto Facebook; one being my friend’s little boy being admitted to hospital. I was sad I’d missed the news and was eager to find out more about how he was doing, but text messages sufficed and I just needed to wait a little longer for news.
There are probably a few industry-related pieces of news I’m behind on, and surely one or two baby announcements…but I’m hoping that friends will take the effort to let me know anything of crucial importance.
How I will use Facebook moving forward…
Due to the nature of my work, it would be impossible for me to leave Facebook completely. I need to have a presence there in order to keep abreast of latest developments, and for occasional research purposes. It can also be a good way of keeping in touch with some industry contacts.
But I have no plans to reinstall the Facebook app on my phone, and I plan to login from my computer just once a week. I never want to go back to checking Facebook when I wake up, or before I go to sleep.
Moving forward, I’ll whittle down greatly the number of people I am following, and rely on others to hopefully let me know about anything significant. I will also make sure I have set up alternative ways for people to contact me, and let friends know that I won’t be appearing very often.
If this inspires you to quit Facebook, or another social platform for 30 days, please let us know your discoveries!