What you once accepted as the norm you should question. Your life is limited both in time and energy. There are always improvements to be made.
After a decade of Facebook, I shut ‘er down…ok just temporally. The first years were pretty easy – those of us with a .edu email address would login. Maybe we would tag a few friends in photos or ask questions on an upcoming class. It was a brilliant idea and provided much entertainment. Naturally, as time went on, the addiction grew. The platform was opening up and mobile apps soon followed. Where only a few of us had our own platforms such as personal websites or blogs became a time in which everyone had a platform…and it was cool. People were talking and connecting.
For me the decision to take a break from Facebook was never about time. My addiction was under control – quick browse walking into work, after dinner while doing some unwinding and usually a few page scrolls as I’m hunkering into bed. I’d like to think of those small periods as micro-moments; moments where there wasn’t much else I could do that was really productive anyways. Or so I thought.
I will say it was an interesting experiment. For those who know me, you’ve seen it before:
- 30 days of waking up at 5:30 AM
- 30 days of eliminating caffeine
- 30 days of drinking PBR
…the list goes on is usually random in nature.
For me though, the biggie was that I had to reevaluate. Fact is everyone has opinions, but they now have this platform. Worst off, it’s a digital one. The problem here lies in that when communication is online, there are very small repercussions. People say things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face and receive thee ‘ol punch in the jaw. As far as opinions, I’m as guilty as guilty can be for on- or offline opinion pushing and argument escalating. I am wired for “my way or the highway”. If only I could get back the hours I’ve wasted arguing the superiority of Apple products. It’s similar to the new third rule:
- you mustn’t talk religion
- avoid politics
- do not argue Android vs iOS (what used to be Ford vs Chevy…which actually, both are wrong. See, there I go again.).
“Social media is like driving: Everyone wants to be on the road, but not everyone should be allowed behind the wheel.” – Marietta Gentles Crawford
I don’t know if it’s because of the couple gray hairs my wife Kristin has now found buried in my head or what, but my tolerance has dramatically shifted. Obama, mom slapping rioting son in head, Bruce Jenner, breastfeeding in public, The Chicago Bears, taxes on rich vs. poor. We can’t keep arguing on Facebook – let’s move on. These aren’t bad topics and they all have the potential to make great bar conversations with your friends…especially if they are like-minded. The constant Facebook blowups have got to go.
People must realize that many of these polarizing topics create anger in others and breed hate. Then the comments come…oh lord have I seen too many Facebook breakups happen here. I was once a commenter and my life changed once I learned to ignore posts that angered me.
Pro tip: If you feel the need to comment…comment, but don’t submit. Leave it for the next morning and I guarantee you will no longer feel the same urge to respond. Kristin witnessed me on countless occasions this year in a blank email typing franticly for 20 minutes on responses I would never submit. If it’s not nice, don’t say it. However, if you need to post or comment on something, we need rules.
New rule: 1 ugly rant a week or 1 ugly rant every 20 posts…whichever is less. And this is subject to change.
I kept notes in a pocket notebook during this experiment. Upon further examination, it is clear that if I had written this article at the beginning of the 30 days, it would have had held much less mercy. But let’s move on and be positive – let’s go back to baby photos. I’ve found that interesting articles, new music or hilarious videos have won the hearts of many and created countless next-day conversations. I recommend you start there if you’re a ranter. Stop being a jerk.
So what happened?
Thirty days ago I logged into Facebook for the last time – disabled people from posting on my wall, killed notifications and tweaked a few other settings to keep things where I left them while I took a break. I then found this neat little Chrome ad-on called StayFocused. StayFocused’s core feature is the ability to limit your time spent on websites. Have a problem with reddit? Pinterest? Simply configure a few settings…say 15 minutes a day and boom – your browser will shut those sites up for good once you reach the time limit so you can get back to work/life. This simply wasn’t enough for me so I went NUCLEAR (seriously, it’s actually a setting within the plugin). Setting = block facebook.com and all related domains for…720 hours. Perfect! But I wasn’t done – I next found my iPhone and iPad and deleted those sweet sweet apps for good. So long temptations!
Originally, I was really nervous about leaving Facebook. Today, I was really nervous about signing back in.
- Happiness. I no longer had to read through people’s crappy posts while trying to stay in touch with the lives of my friends. My energy was restored and everything felt more positive.
- Compounding effect. I wanted to feel more of the positivity. I stopped my daily habit of political radio on the commutes. I stopped watching whatever amount of evening news I was previously watching (reasons – they are mostly negative). Hell (and sort of unrelated) I even deleted Snapchat permanently. Yeah it was fun, but incredibly disruptive to my day. Pictures of food, nights out at the bar, 100th dog photo of the afternoon, duck faces, rinse and repeat. Yawn..
- Time. Maybe not more time, but time spent better. Instead of browsing Facebook between meetings, I opened Quora on my phone and read fascinating questions like “What are some things that mechanical engineers know and others don’t?” or “What is the most valuable skill a person can have for their entire life?”. I even began to use Instagram again where I’ve always made a habit to follow good or inspiring photographers – not just any friend who posted much of what I said in my Snapchat rant. Sorry guys, I just need my moments of Zen.
- Lost moments. Kristin and I attended a wedding the weekend I first ditched Facebook. Apparently I was being tagged in photos, but had no clue what was going on. A few coworkers added me as a friend which I never accepted. They thought I was ignoring them. Another friend started a health activity group I wanted to join, but could not view as it was on Facebook. Heck, I couldn’t even login to my Spotify account as it utilized Facebook’s login API (again, I had it all blocked).
- It gets easier. Habits are hard to break, but luckily I had no choice with the circumstances I created. Nowadays, the urge to constantly check Facebook are completely gone.
There is a real issue here and the fact that when you type “taking a fac” into Google autocompletes into millions of results for “taking a Facebook break” is incredible. During this experiment I met many others who have done this experiment, have thought about trying it or have given Facebook up completely and I can understand their numerous reasons why such as depression and loneliness while they stare at everyone else’s fun, wedding/baby-filled lives. Don’t forget people are in a “big me” mindset with social media. If you want my opinion, just take a break. Reset, then optimize.
As for me, I’m back and here to stay but with a new approach. While I do not have the guts to delete my friends, I am going to start filtering them from the news feed. My goal is 10 of the worst offenders in the next 10 days. It’s harsh, I don’t want to do it, I want to see the GOOD posts they inspire me on…but I’m choosing to be surrounded in more positivity. Don’t be the person that people sigh about every time your name appears.
And I really miss sharing cool shit…that’s coming back.