This is not a challenge to get more Facebook-friends or lose weight by only eating when you’re not on Facebook and exercising while you are (though that might not be such a bad idea…). This is a challenge to try live without Facebook for a while and see if your life improves.
When my baby was born I informed the important family and friends through traditional methods, such as WhatsApp and e-mail. (Ok, maybe not traditional, but certainly more personal.) The obligatory Facebook announcement was posted about two weeks later along with the announcement that I would be leaving Facebook and not posting any baby photos whatsoever. I asked that those who wanted to keep updated on the baby’s progress would give me their email addresses. And, as they say on those awful internet ads, you won’t believe what happened next…
Instead of confusion, anger, and shouts of protest, I received understanding messages saying things like, “I’d love to stop using Facebook,” or “I totally get it, it’s such a waste of time.” (Sorry, bit of an anticlimax, just like those internet ads.)
It turned out that loads of people saw the fruitlessness and meaninglessness of Facebook. Only they weren’t actually going to do anything about it.
I got lot of friend’s email addresses (I’m currently living abroad long-term, so am far away from many friends and family members) and suddenly some of my friendships got deeper. I think it was a result of something called ‘communication.‘
I don’t know if you’ve done this, but I would find myself scrolling through Facebook, skimming through the current affairs of all my friends and acquaintances, and I’d get a false sense of having caught up with their lives. And thus we can all know a little about each other with the minimum effort, and without having to ever experience any real communication.
Once I realised that I hadn’t really had a proper conversation with many of my friends in a very long time, I began to feel a little sickened by Facebook. Of course it’s not the social network itself that’s so unpleasant, but the way we use it and have allowed ourselves to become slaves to it. It’s that kind of slavery where you think you’re free, and find yourself saying things like “I can stop any time I want to,” or “I’m not on it as much as some people are,” or “it’s not like it’s a bad thing, it’s not like drugs.” But this subtle slavery is dangerous for exactly that reason: if you don’t see that you need to escape, you’ll never make an escape-plan; if you don’t see the need to get it under control, you’ll never try to.
So once I realised how much time I was wasting on this endless scrolling, how many ‘relationships’ were nothing at all, and how many opportunities it was giving me to judge people (oh, and how 80% of what I was seeing was advertising), I realised that I’d have to stop cold turkey. Just cutting back would not be enough.
So I made my announcement, uninstalled my Facebook app, and let people know how they could reach me through more personal media.
And it’s been wonderful.
I haven’t felt the guilt that builds up as I feel time ticking away while I read through people’s (let’s face it) less-than-fascinating status updates. I’ve deepened some important friendships, and learned how making a bit of effort to keep in contact pays off. And I have felt free from an addiction I really didn’t think I had in the first place.
I’ve recently gone back onto Facebook to look at all the photos my friends have been posting of their new babies (because some people just can’t bring themselves not to post their baby’s every movement on an impersonal website (sorry if I seem holier-than-thou)), and it’s made me appreciate being out of it for two years. Absolutely nothing of interest has happened to the site or the friends who are on it that I didn’t already find out about through phone calls, texts, and emails. And the same people are still posting the same (let’s be more blunt about it) boring status updates and cringe-causing selfies.
I am incredibly glad to be out of that Facebook prison. And I’m never going back.
So here’s my challenge to you: If you’re on Facebook for more than 5 minutes per a week, I challenge you to get off Facebook completely for two months. Cut all ties with the site, disallow notifications to your phone and email, uninstall the app (don’t worry, you can reinstall it in two months time if you really want to), and start to actually communicate with the people who are important to you.
See if your important relationships aren’t stronger and you have more time on yor hands to start ticking things off your To Do list.
And let me know how it goes by commenting below. I’d love to read about your Facebookless experience.