It happened again today. A Facebook friend posted that they are leaving Facebook in favor of building relationships with people in the REAL world. People and businesses are continuing to rush to Facebook while still others are leaving it; for good.
Whenever I hear someone is leaving Facebook, the usual reason is because they want to make space; space for face to face conversations, space for reading an uplifting book, space for being present in the moment. I applaud my Facebook friend for making the choice to truly connect with people.
But is leaving the answer?
Don’t get me wrong, leaving Facebook, or not joining it in the first place is a totally valid approach to digital life. But is it the best approach? I’m not on Facebook often, but when I am, I find myself mindlessly sucked into the deluge of posts from friends, family and people I don’t even know. In the end, I rip myself away, wondering where the last 20 minutes went. For others, that 20 minutes is 2 hours, or more. I find that for most things in life, moderation is the answer. So if leaving isn’t the best way, how do we moderate the digital noise to make space for the things that matter?
- Turn off Alerts – I recently started experimenting with how I get alerts on my phone. As a small business owner, email and phone calls are a critical part of my livelihood. But like many of you, I realized that when I stopped at any given stoplight, or my phone made a ding, buzz or otherwise called to me, I reached down and grabbed my phone. It’s TERRIBLE! Facebook and Facebook Messenger just fuel that fire. My recommendation for reducing Facebook dependence is to turn off all Facebook notifications. Yes, ALL of them. (In another post, I’ll write about turning off notifications completely on any digital device). Try this for a week and notice how much less twitchy you become and more aware of the things around you.
- Give Yourself a Break – I don’t mean a break from Facebook, I mean a break to use Facebook, guilt free! It’s like a diet. If you don’t give yourself a chance to enjoy what you’re trying to moderate from time to time, you’re not going to stick with it. Block out time in your calendar or a certain part of your evening (reducing slowly over time) and let yourself dig into Facebook with all of your attention. Enjoy catching up on the latest goings on with your friends and acquaintances. Share the pictures of Aunt Edna’s birthday party, your latest hunting trophy or your newly pedicured feet. But remember to set an alarm so that you remember to detach from the mother ship.
- Read a Book – Yes, grab a physical book (though an e-book will do in a pinch) and read. A great way to make space for real life is to take space for something meaningful. Why not a video game or a TV show? Doing something meaningful helps you feel more lastingly fulfilled than just sitting in front of an electronic device. Don’t like to read? How about sitting out on your deck or at a park and looking around at the real world. Whatever you do make it something that counts.
Just like my Facebook friend today, I’m grateful for what Facebook has done in terms of getting me connected with my friends from elementary school, from over seas, and even people who live close that I never see. And just like my Facebook friend, I also feel a draw to run away from Facebook completely. But why not give moderation a shot to give you the best of both worlds. Give the above suggestions a try and see if you can’t reduce your dependence on Facebook while increasing the space in your life for other meaningful things. Share your comments below.
Question: What other things have you done to limit your Facebook time?