For at least six months or so, I’ve toyed with the idea of deleting my Facebook. Every time I’ve thought about it or mentioned it to a friend, I’ve decided against it because it seems impractical for a number of reasons.
Some reasons are a little trivial: for instance, simply thinking I won’t have enough willpower to stick with it or that my FOMO (fear of missing out, y’all) will increase exponentially. But on the few days over the years that I haven’t gone on Facebook much because I’ve been too busy [note: I already deleted the app from my phone a few months ago], I notice that my FOMO is virtually nonexistent.
I don’t think about logging into a website to keep in touch with people constantly when I’m not also being reminded by the same website—through other people’s carefully edited online personas—that people I know are traveling, getting engaged, or posing in photos with their friends and families.
I don’t miss Facebook when I’m not using it; When I use it, I only want to use it more, so that I can then try to feel as connected as others seem to be in their photos. This doesn’t make sense, and it sounds like some kind of emotional addiction more than a valuable tool for sharing and communicating, (at least in my case.)
Then, there are the more legitimate concerns I have about deleting my Facebook:
1. Not knowing about important events (campus-sponsored events, parties, etc.)
2. Not being able to privately message people (which is honestly just like email, only simpler, because email addresses are unnecessary.)
3. Losing touch with friends and peers, some of whom I may want to keep in touch with for collaboration on creative or professional projects in the future.
These concerns still seem fairly legitimate to me, and I haven’t found much of a way around them. This is why I’m not going cold turkey, but I’ve decided to significantly scale back.
From last night (Sunday), until next Sunday night, I will not be using Facebook during the day. To combat my more legitimate concerns, I will be logging on for up to 5 minutes each night to check events for the following day, and I will keep the Facebook Messenger app on my phone for private messages.
So far, I’m one day in, and the lack of temptation feels great. I feel more productive and more able to focus on a given task. Tonight, when I logged on to look at events and notifications, I planned to stay online for 5 minutes but only felt it necessary to log on for 2 minutes. Not totally surprisingly, after not using it all day, it wasn’t as appealing as reading and listening to music, so I did that instead.
I’ve also noticed that I’ve barely checked my Instagram or Twitter accounts all day. I’m wondering if this feeling of indifference toward social media will continue as my experiment does. And I’m sure, even without Facebook, I’ll still feel the need at some point to escape from something I need to be doing to do something I want to do instead. But I’ll have to find more creative ways to do it.
For the record, I’ve already typed command+T+F+enter out of sheer habit about 30 times throughout the day, only to be greeted by the proverbial blue login page.
But for now, I’m not feeling out of touch at all. I’m just choosing to be out of touch with one particular cyber world, and I don’t miss it.