When I joined Facebook in college, circa 2008, I wouldn’t guess I’d ever need a Facebook hiatus. Before that I was a regular on MySpace. Facebook seemed so boring in comparison, yet everybody was jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. Like a good netizen, I reluctantly followed suit. Year after year it’s the same story: one day it’s useful, the next it’s wasteful. It’s entertaining, yet annoying. Informative, yet stupefying. Uplifting and depressing. It’s kept me connected to and driven me from people. With good will come bad. Such is life. Are the usual arguments of Facebook lovers and critics right? Is Facebook a back hole and the world at my fingertips? Most importantly, should I use Facebook, and if so, how?
To know, I had to explore life without this institutional medium wedged between my social life and me. So I took a Facebook hiatus for a month in search of a cleaner, realer perspective on some things. At first I thought about Facebook once in awhile. But after a week, it barely crossed my mind. If it did, I’d be smile because I noticed the difference without it. There was less stress. I was doing more, which felt good. A month abstinence from the entanglement of Facebook’s taunting seduction cleared my head. Here’s my insights from my Facebook-free reality retreat:
What my Facebook hiatus made me miss:
I missed the uplifting moments of successes, overcoming obstacles, finding love, dream jobs, etc. I missed people brave enough to share THEMSELVES: the profound moments and unabashed truth. It’s those moments that show us reflections of ourselves.
Some of my family and good friends aren’t in my day to day ‘real’ life anymore and I missed seeing what they’re up to. I missed my travel friends and their interesting, colorful posts from around the world. I missed my funny friends’ commentary and witty banter.
What was glorious about my Facebook hiatus:
I didn’t miss mindlessly scrolling the never-ending newsfeed searching for something good. I didn’t miss those that constantly post not cool, self-serving stuff. You know who they are: The selfie queen, the rabid ranter, the “look at how clever I am,” and those that share anything that tickles their fancy every f-ing time their fancy is tickled. I’ve done my fair share of abusing the newsfeed, so I know these are good people with good intentions, just ignorant of what they’re doing. I still didn’t miss them.
Not having to watch the election year political circus was glorious! I didn’t have to see complaining, anger, or any useless or annoying shit that passes as “news.” Never mind political news. I didn’t miss any of the news. News confuses me and stirs up emotions and questions about this world to which I don’t want the answer.
What I accomplished during my Facebook hiatus:
That time allowed me to enter my first fine art photography show, in which I took first prize. I sold $500 worth of my travel photography—the most ever. I made “Seconds in India,” my first travel video. I thoroughly cleaned every space I occupy. I went to the gym four times a week and lost five pounds. I did Yoga. I meditated. I wrote. I learned to cook Thai food. The list goes on.
It’s not that leaving Facebook was the single thing that did it. It was determination and time management. The day I logged out I made a promise to use that time to do things I needed to do but kept putting off. Without that never-ending distraction, I was more human, more able to accomplish goals. It worked great. I felt great. I owned my time.
Key takeaway: Balance
I won’t abandon Facebook altogether, but now I understand how to use Facebook and not allow Facebook to use me. I won’t put the app on my phone. I’ll only log on once or twice a week and never stay logged in on a browser tab. I’ll pop in to see the people I miss or share something that is best shared with my whole Facebook audience. And I’ll use it for my ‘pages’ for Inspiration Travels and Jesse David Photography.
I challenge you to try it. If you don’t want to go cold turkey, wean yourself off by limiting your sessions a bit. Less sessions with shorter time. In the meantime, clean up your profile and newsfeed. Limit the personal info you have out there. It’s comforting. ‘Unlike’ pages that don’t give you more good than bad. You’ll likely not miss it. Adjust your newsfeed settings. Tighten things up and trim the fat. Make sure Facebook will work for you when you come back. Then take a break for a month. Let it be.
Call your mom, or an old buddy with whom you keep meaning to have a real conversation. Get with friends and play ‘Cards Against Humanity‘. Write a letter with a pencil and paper and send it to a friend across town just for fun. Do something creative. It’s amazing how much you can do with that free time.
When you come back to check in, your perspective may be different. You may decide to limit your use to specific times and not use it on your phone. Maybe you’ll only log on once a month, or on weekends only, or never again. Maybe you’ll love the liberation.
Ever take a Facebook hiatus? Want to? Leave a comment or question.