At the beginning of the year, I did something that I had been wanting to do for a long time… I quit Facebook.
Technically, I simply deactivated the account and deleted the app, but psychologically that was enough and I am so glad I did.
Why did I do something so drastic? Because I had a problem. I was well and truly addicted and I felt impaired by it.
I could not watch more than five minutes of TV without checking my news feed. I could not go more than 1 minute of queuing without checking it. I could not write more than one sentence without checking it. I would get lost down rabbit holes of reading articles and loose an hour or more of time.
I felt like I had no capacity for undivided attention, making by graphic designer job mentally exhausting. I would go to check the time on my phone and find myself buried in three articles that were really important and I had to read RIGHT NOW. And forget what the time was, so I’d check my phone and repeat.
It was bad. My now husband said it wasn’t awful yet, but there was potential. Outwardly, he was right, but inwardly I felt like I had no control over what my fingers did whenever I touched my phone.
That was not an acceptable state of affairs for me. This realisation arrived as I was in the midst of a new job, planning a wedding and trying to do my PhD full time late last year. I also realised that trying to do something drastic like going cold turkey would not be a smart move.
I pulled copies of my photos off Facebook and waited until the beginning of this year and then pulled the plug. The first week, my fingers would do the auto-unlocking and try to open a non-existent app. I still felt wired and unfocused, but it got better.
My head cleared and my attention span got better. I don’t miss Facebook. At all. It’s been five months, and for something that consumed hours of my day, I don’t even give it a first or second thought anymore. It’s quite liberating being separated from the tiring outrage and FOMO machine that was my newsfeed.
My social life hasn’t suffered from a lack of Facebook, in many cases, it’s made me much more proactive about actually talking to my friends and family rather than sharing memes on each other’s walls.
I haven’t eschewed all social media. I still have twitter, which for some reason, does not have the same hold that Facebook did. Even if it did, I’m pretty confident I can cut it out and be better for it.
Social media, like most things is neither good nor bad in of itself. It depends on how you use it. However, keep in mind that they are all there to make money. Whatever platitudes are made about “connecting the world,” the reality is, if they weren’t handsomely profitable and then some, they’d be cut loose and left to go the way of MySpace. Social media is designed to be addictive on some level so more stuff can be sold to you.
I realised that I didn’t owe Zuckerberg hours of my day and my ability to think clearly for profit. My mind and social life are not for sale. If you think you might have the same kind of problem, don’t be afraid to quit. You really aren’t missing out on much except having a clearer, more focused mind.
Image Credit: Fidgety Fingers