40 Days Without Facebook
It has actually been 46 days (counting Sundays). I haven’t liked my friends’ gorgeous vacation photos (I haven’t even SEEN them!). I’ve missed wishing a Happy Birthday to the dozens of acquaintances who are turning 50 every week. I haven’t been in the loop on the whereabouts of my favorite food trucks. And I probably missed some good sales at my favorite boutiques.
I gave up Facebook (and French fries) for Lent. Facebook has been much harder, (and I LOVE French fries).
Why did I do it? Lent is supposed to be about meditation, renewal and redemption. Ideally, it’s about sharing love with our fellow humans. However, in the lead-up to presidential primary season I was finding myself anything but loving after going through my Facebook feed and reading some of the political ping pong.
There’s something so easy about Facebook. It’s so integrated into our lives that it feels like it’s always been around. Giving it up was illuminating. I felt like I had found a cache of free time that was given to me as a gift. I’m excited to get back to Facebook, but I do think I’ll use it differently.
What I missed:
I really missed knowing what my friends were up to, even those who I haven’t spoken to in a while (especially the ones I haven’t spoken to). Facebook helps us feel connected (even when we aren’t).
I went on a couple vacations and took some gorgeous photos. I really wanted to share them with my friends.
It’s a lot harder to wish people a Happy Birthday when you can’t write on their walls.
I missed knowing the memes and cultural references that people were talking about.
I actually missed getting alternative viewpoints. I’ve purposely tried to follow a diverse population of intelligent people. I have friends of different races, ages, geography and economic backgrounds. I missed the expanded perspective that they give me.
What I learned:
You’re much more present on your vacation when you’re not always thinking about what you’re going to post next.
Facebook is the easy way out of social interaction. For those of us with introverted tendencies, it’s probably too easy. We can post something quickly or send a friend a message without needing to expend too much of our precious social energy.
I knew Facebook was a time suck, but I had NO IDEA how much time I was actually spending on it. Hours every day were spent staring at the screen, scrolling through ads and photos of food other people were eating. I’ve been able to use that time to write blog posts and essays for our website and to reach out personally to some friends.
Instagram will do in a pinch, but it is not a satisfying replacement. I missed the context and stories behind the photos.
I was slower to hear some news. But the story was more accurate by the time it made it to me through traditional news sources.
Here’s what I’m going to try to do differently:
I’m going to spend less time checking my feed. It’s really easy to lose a whole hour trying to see everything. I’m going to set a timer and give myself no more than 15 minutes at a time.
I’m going to communicate with friends more outside of Facebook.
I’m going to keep trying to expand the diversity within my Facebook friends.
I’m going to combat the negative vibe with positive posts. I won’t denigrate or insult the people who disagree with me politically. I’ll try to engage by stating my viewpoint rather than insulting theirs.
If I find myself getting angry and negative when reading my news feed, I’ll close Facebook and seek out a more positive forum for discussion.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to log on and reconnect.