I’ve been off Facebook for a month …
I noticed towards the end of January that it seemed I was always on my phone. And most of that time, I was on Facebook. Scroll, scroll, pull down to refresh… Sometimes seeing the same posts over and over, without really reading or enjoying much of what I was seeing. It was a habit, and it was beginning to turn into a giant time suck.
In the end, I decided that, for the month of February (both my favorite and the shortest month), I decided I would take a Facebook break. I allowed myself to keep Facebook messenger, so if anyone wanted to contact me directly they could and vice versa. I also allowed glimpses if my husband shared a photo or story off his own screen, and one afternoon I looked up two candidates for local office because their main websites had good information but not the details I was seeking. I told a few friends (including cousins I only ever see on Facebook) about the project, but otherwise didn’t advertise it.
No, it wasn’t for Lent. 🙂 But it was the longest time I have voluntarily given up something I otherwise enjoy since I was pregnant and gave up chocolate and caffeine (for Sam) or caffeine (for Becky, who got ALL the chocolate).
I enjoy keeping in contact with my friends and family. I enjoy the opportunity to learn, to reach out, and to share – and Facebook is great for that. I’ve tried Instagram (nice, but it misses the opportunity for depth), Twitter (great for news feeds and the chance to connect with people I otherwise wouldn’t), and a couple of other short-lived excursions (Google + just seemed confusing). I keep coming back to Facebook because of its immediacy, the chance for longer conversations, and the opportunities it offers to simply say “me too”.
What did I hope to accomplish? Well, I wanted to figure out exactly what I enjoy about Facebook. I wanted to tamp down the habit, however, and get back to using Facebook as an occasional “check in” and update, versus the knee-jerk tic it was becoming. I wanted to clear out people, businesses, blogs, and other things that I no longer followed. Much like the idea of tossing out any clothing not worn in a year, I wanted to see what I missed the most during this month. Who, and what, did I really want to connect with?
On Facebook, I’d been doing the social media equivalent of sending out Christmas cards to people with whom I had only the most passing acquaintance – and the price of stamps, or my time and mental energy, was going up.
I deleted my Facebook app, logged off the site on my computer so it wouldn’t be so easy to just type it in (I’d have to go look up my password), and otherwise made things more difficult for myself to accidentally or habitually “click”. The first few days were the easiest, honestly – I read a lot more books, I chatted with friends I’d intentionally reached out to, and otherwise did more in-depth communicating in ways that mattered.
The last few days have actually been the hardest, knowing the month was drawing to a close. This is when I took the most careful stock of myself. Which blogs and businesses did I wonder about? Which friends’ photos did I most want to catch up on? Who did I miss?
Here it is, March 1, and my month is over. I logged in this morning, and looked into some of the groups I belong to. I checked on some friends and learned of a horrible car accident with potentially life-changing results – and I saw some photos of kids who are NOT allowed to look so grown up. I saw letters of acceptance, joyous news, and dog stories that were incredibly sweet. I also spent some time and deleted some businesses and groups I wasn’t sure why I’d added in the first place. I have more adding and deleting to do over the next few days, but that’s ok.
What I’ve learned over this month is that I really do enjoy the positive aspects of social media. I like the photos, and the exchange of ideas and news and special moments. I like the conversations.
But what I’ve also learned is that my time is valuable. I need to fill it with things that add to my life, whether that’s reasonable and intentional use of social media – or coloring for a while, or spending time with my family, or watching my daffodils grow. I wrote more this month than I have for a while, and I read lots of books, and I even played some games because I enjoy that, too. I have learned that intentionally spending my time respects its value, and adds value to everything else I do.
So I’ll still see you on Facebook. Just not all the time.