Unplugged // My Month Away from Facebook

>> Monday, February 27, 2017

So, I didn't write about it on the blog, but I took February off from Facebook. It's something I had been meaning to do for quite some time. I signed up my senior year of college -- and that was 12 years ago. Phew. I think that finally pushed me over the edge was all the political talk, the constant stream of news and opinion pieces, and my own nagging feeling of being addicted to social media.

I'm proud to say I actually did it.
I quit.
I survived.
And, dare I say, thrived with my time away.

So much, in fact, that I have decided to effectively quit for another month. Well, mostly. The thing is, Facebook is somewhat of a necessary evil these days. It's a way you can connect with people you don't get to see. And when you live away from many of your close friends -- it serves as a handy form of communication. Especially for an introvert like me who doesn't like talking on the phone.

Alright, here's how I did it.

Step 1: I posted a message a few days before the start of the month explaining that I was going to sign off for the month. I told my friends that I had downloaded Facebook messenger as a means of communication, but I also provided my email address if anyone wanted to get in touch with me.

Step 2: I . . . just . . . stopped going onto Facebook. I will be completely honest that in the first day, I was actually really surprised  to find myself typing in the address in my browser bar . . . like every time I had a spare moment. It became almost laughable. But after a week or so, the automatic nature of it faded and I just stopped going onto the site.

That's really all you need to do. If I continue my hiatus this month, I plan to take the following measures to improve my experience.

  • I may block the site somehow on my phone. It wasn't as much of an issue on my laptop because I primarily am on that for work purposes. Does anyone have a recommendation for blocking the address on my phone? I know there are some site blockers out there.
  • I will switch off notifications that get sent to my email. The only times I did feel compelled to log on this month were when well-meaning friends shared some cool stuff on my wall.  
  • I may try to find an automated way to share my blog posts via Facebook. Though, it wasn't too bad just quickly logging on, typing up what my blog was about, and then logging off.

 Some things I learned during my time away.

  • First are foremost, you can live without Facebook. I am still alive. I filled my mind with far less useless knowledge this month and had much more time to read things that actually meant something to me. I also took far fewer quizzes to tell me what Golden Girl I am, etc. And you know what? That stuff is interesting for sure, but definitely not necessary in my life, or so I discovered.
  • Your real friends won't forget about you. In fact, you're forge more meaningful friendships and spark more interesting conversations with the people who take the time to contact you off your wall. Yes, I did hold on to my Messenger capabilities and will continue to do so. But instead of sharing mindless random stuff, I send a good friend a great bread recipe because I knew she had been looking for one and otherwise made plans to meet up with people, you know, in the flesh.
  • There's a lot of other stuff you can be doing with all the time you spend surfing. I read a good chunk of my Hamilton biography this month, I also cleaned much more of my house, and I spent more one-on-one time with Ada doing crafts. Now that the weather is warmer, not having a feed to scroll through should prove even more exciting for my personal life and hobbies.
  • Fringe friends don't bring me joy. There's something relaxing about flipping through your feed and seeing what so-and-so is up to from all those years ago. The thing is, after I've spend some time away, I realized that maybe I don't care that X person is having a baby. Sure it's nice, but I haven't spoken with her in five years. Or Y and Z went to Europe? That's nice. I actually only ever met them a few times. So, maybe I have no business creeping on their vacation photos?
  • Along those same lines, it takes a lot of energy to maintain "friendships" that don't necessarily fill my cup, so to speak. I remember seeing a TED talk about the number of people you can have meaningful relationships with and how anything more is just draining. Yeah. Quitting Facebook is good as a remedy for that situation.
  • I have other social media addictions. Instagram, I'm looking at you. I quit Twitter long ago. I only do Pinterest in spurts while nursing. But Instagram is definitely something that sucks me in. And you know what? I may need to work on it. Right now, I'm cool with that. I try to keep most of my browsing to nursing sessions and a few breaks every now and again. Not being on Facebook so much allowed me to find some new feeds I love. Right now Kaity at Fare Isle is my favorite.

 Next steps in my journey.

With the time I save not scrolling around on Facebook this month, I want to:

  • Get together with a real life friend at least once a week. It's easy to get caught up in being too busy or too strapped to nap schedules. I already have plans to visit a friend of mine who lives slightly out of town later this week. I think once I get in the habit, it will become more automatic to find space for these connections in my daily life.
  • Find a better work-life balance. My job requires me to be online often for writing. Blogging gets me a bit bogged down online most days of the week. I may experiment with having a posting schedule that would free up a couple days a week to spend entirely computer and device-free. More to come with this soon as I hash it out.
  • I also plan to participate in the National Day of Unplugging on March 3rd this year. It's great to quit Facebook, but I also think lessening my time on screens in general is a bigger goal I'd like to achieve. Especially after I read the Hands-Free Mama book a couple years back.
  • I'd also like to pick back up my cross-stitching hobby that I left behind before Eloise was born. It brought me a lot of joy, and I do think I still spend too much time on my phone in the evenings. Stephen and I were just discussing having a couple TV-free evenings, and cross-stitching may be just the thing I want to do with my free time.

Another revelation:

I've also realized that a major reason I liked being on Facebook was to share photos of the kids with my friends. The thing is, I don't need to share so many. No one cares that much. And I don't want to have tons of photos of my kids online. I think it's actually more for me. The process of taking photos brings me joy. Looking at my photos makes me happy.

Instead of sharing this with the world all the time, I am going to sign up for Chatbooks and regularly get some photo books printed out that I myself will be able to look at and share with my family. Has anyone else used Chatbooks? What is your opinion? I'll be sure to do a review soon! I loved their commercial on YouTube!

OK. Who here has quit Facebook? Did I forget anything? Anyone feel motivated to take a trial break this month? I'd love to hear your thoughts!!!

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