What I learned from giving up Facebook for a month

Along with my many goals for 2014, I decided to give up Facebook for the month of January.  By giving myself just one month I didn’t feel like it was forever so the commitment to such a change wasn’t very scary.  New Year’s Eve, when the clock struck midnight I promptly deleted the app from my phone and said no more. I can honestly say I didn’t have any slip ups but did go on twice to answer private messages that were sent by a friend.  Several things came from this little experience.  Some I wasn’t surprised by and some I was.

  • The first few days I realized just how much I clicked on FB and I honestly didn’t think I had done that so much in a day.  I would grab for my phone waiting in line some place or go to click on it on my desktop when bored at work but I would have to stop myself.  What would I do while standing in line now?  I spent much more time noticing my surroundings once I shoved my phone back in my purse.  Or I spent much more time accomplishing the task at hand without getting so sidetracked.  Suddenly I was gaining all these little minutes back in the day that I was previously throwing away.
  • I had some friends that were promptly annoyed and unsure how to handle me NOT being on FB.  “Can I tag you?”  “What if I send you an invite?”  “How will you know what is going on?” The list of concerns went on and on.  I would shake my head thinking this was the exact reason I needed a break from it all.  People really do have friendships without FB in this world and I certainly could.  Could my friends though?  Apparently, yes.  People would send me texts or (shock!) pick up the phone and just call me.  There were words of “Miss seeing you on FB! Wanted to see what you were up to.”   “I know you won’t see this pic on FB so I’m texting it to you.”  And let me tell you how much more I appreciated that picture of their kid that was sent via text instead of in a rolling scroll of FB updates.  I knew giving up FB would change how I approached things but I didn’t think it would do the same for my friends. How cool.
  • I went out and bought Thank You cards.  Did you know there is still a whole aisle of options of them at Target? I sent hand written thank you’s and grabbed Hallmark cards for upcoming birthday’s for that month.  There was no easy route of throwing up a comment on someone’s wall and calling it good.  No, I wanted to do more because who doesn’t like something fun in the mail? You know what that prompted?  More actual phone calls of “How cool, you sent a card! How are you?”  Much better than a notification saying they liked my comment!
  • Being FB free truly helped me clear the clutter and noise that was in my life which was my main purpose.  I’m really trying to focus on positivity this year and living in the moment.  It is no secret to anyone these days that if you unplug your life, then you find a bit more happiness. I didn’t miss the passive aggressive status updates, the lunch updates, the tagging in at some exotic destination or anything else.  When I got rid of the noise from a person I knew back in High School, I just felt calmer. We all know that there are a lot of positive statuses on FB but there is a lot of downright meanness and negativity.  I just wanted to worry about myself in that moment.
  • The thing I missed the most from FB was the pictures.  Which made me realize the obvious reason I like being on Facebook and I don’t know if I knew that prior to this experiment. The picture from a first birthday cake attack or from a vacation that had long been planned.  I have an Instagram account that I love but so many friends are not on it.  If they were all on there then I would honestly not feel the need to be on FB anymore.  I know I have family that lives far away wanting to see pictures of my dog with her cone of shame because it is too funny NOT to see.  Facebook is just the only means to share that with everyone.

So, what have I done with myself now that January is over?  While I wish I could say I didn’t re-install the Facebook app back on my phone when the end of the month hit, I did.  Mainly to update pictures.  I can say that first day back on it I scrolled for about 15 seconds before I realized I didn’t want to waste my time and logged back off.  There it was still… the clutter, the noise, the competition.  I did go through my friend’s list and deleted quite a few people.  The ones that made me roll my eyes often or the ones that I met once 8 years ago didn’t need to bring clutter to my life.  The good thing is now I don’t reach for my phone to check for updates and I’m limiting myself to looking at it just once a day.  Old habits are easy to fall back into and I just don’t want to go back there. I like the change.

We all have a love/hate relationship with social media in general and it isn’t going away.  It is a great means of communication but you have to find a balance with it in your life and this was my chance to do so.  I was still on Twitter and Instagram  during this time but I have a different relationship with those two apps.  I don’t get the same negative emotion from them like I do Facebook.  And when you aren’t checking one app then you tend to not check the others as much, which means much more looking up and around at the life happening right there in front of you.  No matter how many more forms of communication come about, living life in the moment will always win.

Taking a Break from Facebook

Part of my goals for 2014 is to take a break from Facebook.  I wasn’t about to go completely crazy and delete my account but I did delete the app from my phone and I’m just not logging onto it on my  computer.  I’m telling myself I’m just going to start with the month of January as an experiment and go from there.  So far I’ve made it through Day One.

Here are a few reasons why I want to go through with this:

  • I truly don’t care where people are standing at 2:13pm on Wednesday.  I don’t care what they had for lunch or what the weather is doing on their morning commute.  It feels like I’m reading static encrusted with ads.  I want to know what it is like without that static that really does nothing to make my day better.
  • I’m that person who posts where I’m standing, what I’m eating and the weather on my commute.  Again with removing the static.  If I don’t want it in my world right now then why put it out there?  Also, I’m sure I could find something better to do with those minutes in the day that add up quickly.
  • There is so much negativity and drama on Facebook.  From the political bashing, to work bashing and the indirect bashing of other Facebook users, I would just like to remove that negativity.  Once again, I question, what am I getting out of any of this by reading it in my day-to-day life?
  • Facebook is a great place for announcing happy life news to the world.  Engagements, weddings, new homes and pregnancies.  Unfortunately when I read 125 of them a day a simple baby announcement just feels like any other.  There is no more punch and excitement.  I hit “like” and move on.  That isn’t fair nor does it feel like that is how it should be celebrated.  Perhaps I will go back to celebrating the happy news the way it is meant to be, with a Hallmark card and a really expensive stamp.
  • Facebook has become a place to out-do one another to be the best Mom, the best wife, the best cook, the most organic, the most fit and so on.  That has a way of making you feel like you are doing something wrong in your own life and I felt like I was comparing when I didn’t need to.  Sure, someone can constantly post about teaching their kids 3 languages while only making meals with whatever came from their garden as they wipe their ass with organic leaves and all this means they are saving a near extinct purple panda BUT it doesn’t mean I have to do the same.  Some days I’m just happy I didn’t tuck my skirt into my underwear.
  • I’m tired of my friendships being based on Facebook.  I have friends that question why I didn’t “like” something or comment on a specific status.  God forbid I don’t throw up an LOL on the 20th picture of their baby trying mashed up green beans.  I don’t want to be penalized for not doing Facebook right or fairly enough amongst friends, tagging, commenting, etc.
  • I mentioned static before earlier and I believe that is what makes me the most crazy these days.  The ads for the product that I just looked at on Wayfair.  Requests for games to play by people who I didn’t know I ever accepted a friend request from. 439 pictures of that fucking elf sitting on a shelf.  Facebook friend suggestions that include my ex-husbands new wife or my ex-boyfriend from 8th grade.  Event reminders, birthday reminders, reminders, reminders, reminders.  Cousin’s day, brother’s day, 2nd cousin twice removed day.  The pins people have posted to Pinterest that I can see just fine when actually signed on to Pinterest.   I have to dig through all of that just to find out my Great Aunt is having a colonoscopy today and the girl I sat next to in High School algebra is 5cm dilated.

There are also a ton of reasons I love Facebook.  I love social media.  I just feel like I need to make a change with how I have it integrated in my life.  Instead of looking down at my phone as I move through the day I want to look up and breathe in more deeply the moments happening around me because that is truly where life is happening.