Yesterday I began my Facebook detox. Several friends commented on my blog post announcement with comments ranging from support & advice, to taunting & ridicule. Exactly two commented on my blog, where the post originated (thank you Eric and Stacy).
My friend Heidi made a good point comparing the social use of Facebook to social drinking — you start with just a little to be social & have fun, but if you aren’t careful you find yourself binge posting stupid things or perhaps even Facebooking alone late into the night. Facebook is a slippery slope for those not prone to moderation (read: me).
To be fair, I’m not really quitting Facebook. I see and value the benefits of Facebook, which I will share my thoughts on in a future post. Rather, I’m limiting myself to no more than 10 minutes/day (with the help of a timer) and avoiding repeated daily logins trolling for new posts or comments (with the help of sheer willpower). But why?
Tim Ferris has made a living and life from life-hacks — short-term, intense challenges to well-established habits for quick, drastic results. While I openly dislike his braggadocios pomposity, I’m drawn to his radical style of ridding oneself of habits (and I really wanted to type “braggadocios pomposity”). This approach is akin to my personality — “bracing, but refreshing” (thanks Eryn!). Quitting Facebook is challenging one of my well-ingrained habits. Moderation may work, but I want to feel the pain and joy that comes from rethinking and conquering habits.
And it is change, indeed. While I mostly conquered the 2 hours/day TV watching habit that afflicts the average American, in reality I simply traded one vice for another. I could argue that Facebook is a more social, inquisitive vice compared to TV. Yet, surely investing my increasingly precious time in activities other than reading navel-gazing posts, engaging in comment flame wars, mindlessly looking at photos, or passively watching 10 minute videos would be better for all involved.
In the end, I’m quitting my Facebook habit for the following reasons:
- to regain control over an annoying vice by directing the intensity of my stubborn willpower
- to focus my attention on fewer, but more meaningful and fulfilling friendships
- to invest my time into mindful activities I value — exercise, learning new things, experiencing life
Yes I will still share links & videos daily (I already have 30 days pre-scheduled). Yes I will check-in for a few minutes each day (but only from my desktop). And Yes I will get notifications of comments to my posts fed into my RSS reader.
But no, I probably won’t reply to many posts or comments. Instead, I will consider other’s posts, research them a bit, marinate on my thoughts, & then maybe take the time to form a clear, concise response in the form of a blog post. Or, better yet, maybe call that friend, check-in with how they are doing, and share and celebrate the unbearable lightness of being with them.