I’ve got a friend I’ve known for years, and every year she quits Facebook for Lent. Her excitement and anticipation for this social media detox was contagious every year, and I was so envious of her.
So this year, I gave it a try. I decided I would do my best to not even visit Facebook during Lent. I deleted it off my phone and everything. I didn’t necessarily expect that it would turn my life around, but it did reveal some interesting things:
I don’t actually miss it
I won’t be reinstalling Facebook on my phone anytime soon, and I hope to continue to only have limited interaction with the platform. The fact is, it’s where most of my friends and family are as far as online presence is concerned, so to drop off of it completely is to cut myself off from most of my social network. Thus foregoing it entirely isn’t a practical option.
But It didn’t take long for me to stop even being tempted to check in. I felt like I’d regained a decent slice of my time that I’d previously spent mindlessly scrolling a feed of whatever Facebook thought I needed to see.
So what did I fill that new-found time with?
I read a lot more, and did more enjoyable activities
I think I was mistakenly using a few of my particularly news-savvy friends to aggregate news stories for me to read. As a result, I started reading more direct news to compensate for no longer having access to others’ hard work. I read news roundups from The Times, The New York Times, TheSkimm, and LinkedIn. I also find myself reading a lot more from my Pocket new tab suggestions.
While it’s probably not necessarily true, I like to think that reading more, longer, articles is increasing my attention span, which has likely atrophied in this digital age. I’ve been working on being more cognizant of switching tasks too often out of boredom, and instead trying to finish one thing first before hopping to the next.
I also spent more time doing things I enjoyed, like photography during the snowfalls we had, and playing video games. This is probably because, for me, Facebook is one of many perilous Dark Playgrounds, where I don’t entertain myself but also don’t accomplish anything. I just flush away minutes of my life. It probably goes hand in hand with the executive dysfunction I regularly experience.
People were surprisingly accommodating
I managed to move most of my conversations from Facebook Messenger to texts and Google Hangouts and WhatsApp. For the most part, I’m not sure I’ll move back to Messenger at all. But there were a few exceptions…
I had to cheat a few times
And I don’t mean that in an I-can’t-control-myself kind of way. I logged in to keep up with the Itchen to Write Facebook group, and try to keep that updated.
The other transgression was using Messenger to keep up with D&D group goings-on. But other than that, I was pretty well behaved!
So what now?
Back to your regularly scheduled programming. I expect to use some automation to keep myself from getting mired in Facebook once more, but without withdrawing my attention and connections. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve cross-posted this on my Facebook, as an introduction back into what I’ve been up to. If you’ve enjoyed or missed my poetry, here’s a summary of what’s gone up over the last few weeks.
Originally published at ashandfeather.com on March 29, 2018.