At the end of last year I decided to try completely removing Facebook from my life: truth to be told, FB does a great job at letting you disconnect by deactivating your account and decide when to come back — so it was an easy experiment.
In this post I’d like to report a few observations 5 months down the line.
What, and how
Long story short, I de-activated my account and kept it as such for a good month. In February I then re-activated it and observed how much time I would spend on the platform on a daily basis.
I basically wanted to see what would have changed by removing such a sometimes useless, sometimes crucial app from my life, and I was fairly pleased with my findings. Nothing groundbreaking, but it gave me a good idea of what facebook is really good for and how I should spend my time on the platform.
Moving to another social media platform
As soon as I de-activated my account, I noticed a “void”: I would leave work and tap on the blue icon — only to see a login screen asking me to re-activate my account. I resisted, and turned my attention towards a different social media platform: twitter.
I generally like twitter more as it provides more “useful” content: articles, random strangers’ observations around general topics and more professional content overall. Since disconnecting from facebook, I’d say 50% of the time I used to spend there is now dedicated to twitter, which makes me feel a bit better about how I spend my (dead) time.
Vulpem pilum mutare, non mores
Since re-activating my account in February I started spending more and more time back on FB: for the first couple of weeks I would open it every couple of days or so, and for the first month I didn’t even open it up from my laptop.
Nowadays, I’m back at it on a daily basis: you might think that’s a fairly bad outcome, but my usage of FB has, quite drastically, changed. Earlier, I used to spend time scrolling through my feed searching for the elusive interesting post from an acquaintance I haven’t seen in 10 years, whereas now I open the app, check my notifications, close it — much less time wasted away.
Reading, reading, reading, read…
Related to the “void”, I again found myself with a lot of time beside twitter: while commuting to work, right after waking up, while brushing my teeth…
I went back to HackerNews: I used to devour HN on a daily basis, while over the past year I spent more time on my kindle and focused less on the daily inspiration HN brings you. This was definitely a plus for me, as I have now found the time for both books and tech news.
Disconnecting from everyone
One of the negative points was that a few people only get in touch through FB, and at that point I cut them out just like that. You now how I noticed it?
Enter my dad:
Should be easy to translate but, just in case:
Hi. Did you close FB?
Stunned, I went back and re-activated my account as I — ehm — felt quite bad. I’m quite terrible at keeping in touch with people, and seeing pops asking me whether I was on FB or not made me realize he was probably gonna share some interesting NBA highlight with me, only to notice I wasn’t available…
I also noticed a pattern once back on FB: I was truly annoyed at the amount of random posts from pages I had liked in my teens that would pop in my feed. I found myself valuing my time far more, and started to “unlike” those pages like there’s no tomorrow.
Not sure how to describe it but, since I re-activated my account I started to dislike time-wasters much more than the usual. Guess it’s not a bad thing after all.
As I mentioned, I don’t think FB is (that) evil — it’s just a matter of knowing how and when to use it. My relationship with the social network is in a much better place (in my opinion, which is probably not aligned with the advertisers’) — sort of it’s not you, it’s me kind of thing.
I would recommend you try to get off the hook for a few days, until you don’t even bother tapping on the blue icon out of habit. I learned how valuable FB can be when keeping in touch with individuals who use it as a primary mean of communication, and I’m probably spending the least amount of time on FB since I joined the platform (fun fact: when I joined I used to write in 3rd person — I guess it was a thing back then).
Advertisers crying in 3, 2…