In 2017, I noticed how much I was addicted to my phone, and more specifically Facebook. I was constantly checking the app, scrolling away to see who was doing what. I would get into bed with the intention of reading a book, to only find an hour (or more) had gone by because I decided to check my phone “quickly.”
Not only was I wasting hours of time, I actually thought I was keeping up with the people in my life. I knew what major life events were happening, how their kids’ school pictures turned out, where they were vacationing, even what restaurants they were frequenting (hopefully with a nice close-up of their favorite dish.)
I also knew what side of the political fence most of my “friends” were on. And depressingly watched new episodes of ” Facebook Feud” The Political Edition, play and replay each night on my feed.
One day, I overheard my daughter’s friend ask where I was and my daughter replied “Probably on her phone.” And there it was – ROCK BOTTOM. What was I doing?
On October 24, 2017, my 44th birthday, I said farewell and challenged myself to go Facebook-free for one solid year. I deleted the app off my phone. I began texting people who I had not seen in person in many years. My texts included a quick hello and an invitation to go to dinner sometime. I set aside Thursday nights for my “social” nights. I had no idea how people would respond – as I mentioned I hadn’t had real human interactions with so many for so long. Much to my surprise (and pleasure) my calendar started to fill up on Thursday nights. Soon I was booked from January – March…then April, May and June. It was great to reconnect with so many people – IN THE FLESH! After a few dinners, I realized I needed to start out the meal by saying – “I haven’t been on Facebook since October – so I actually have NO idea what is going on in your life … so start there!” It is funny how programmed we are to think that people know something just because we posted a status about it. People would say, “well you know I went here or did that” or “I’m sure you saw…” and my answer was always – “I don’t know – but tell me now!”
So what were the actual results of my experiment?
Positives: Overall, I felt so much better. I was present in the moment of my life – for me and my family. I researched and picked what news sources I wanted to read. I started being social in person again. I began reading books at night. Give me all the thumbs-up like buttons!
Negatives: I missed seeing cute pictures of people’s kids and dogs, but I got that fix from Instagram (which I didn’t quit, but set a time limit and stuck to it!) I never knew anyone’s birthdays! I apologize now for forgetting your birthday last year. Facebook is also an awesome way to fundraise (see below.)
Did I ever cheat? Yes! Twice I went on to my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop page because I couldn’t remember the schedule and that was how the group communicated. But proudly I can say, I checked only that page and signed off!
Why did I return? I planned on returning with this blog post, sometime after my 45th birthday. But as I stated above, if you need to fundraise – getting the word out on Facebook is a great way to do it. My school was in need of funds, so I returned and my FB community really helped me and my students out! While monitoring my fundraising efforts, I caught myself scrolling a few times. And then I say why? What am I doing? My only hesitation of deleting my account altogether is all the pictures I have on my account. Anyone have any tips about how to capture all your pictures from Facebook?
If you are thinking about going Facebook free, I highly recommend it! One suggestion I have is to ask a friend or two (maybe from different social circles) to tell you if something very important is happening. Choose friends who would understand what important means to you. Hopefully there will not be, but if there is a tragedy, please inform you. Or did a friend have a baby because you want to send a card.
Have you ever taken a break or quit a social media platform? What did you think? How did it change your life for the better or worse? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading!