When I started my month of Facebook free living on January 1st, I honestly thought that after it was over, I'd think: "I don't know why I ever used Facebook. It's a waste of time and I have no desire to use it again." However, with time I found that my prediction was a bit off.
There were definitely perks to living without Facebook, but I didn't see the results I thought I would. I didn't feel that I was more productive without it, which was one of my main reasons for nixing it (I didn't go to the gym more, clean my room more, or go to bed earlier). I didn't feel happier without it, or that my friendships felt more meaningful (ex: I didn't spend more one-on-one time with friends). I didn't feel happier or more content without it.
I also realized that my previous challenges with Facebook were things I could solve on my own, without removing Facebook from my life entirely. My brilliant analogy for this concept: debating whether or not to keep ice cream at home. I used to think that the only way I could control my ice cream consumption was to not bring any into my home, but after a bit of reflection, I realized that having one pint of quality ice cream in my freezer (now and then) allows me to indulge on occasion and stay satisfied, without over-doing my consumption.
During our final week of Facebook free living, Anna (my partner in crime) and I chatted about our strategies for re-entering the world of Facebook. I was pleased to learn that we had very similar experiences and were completely on the same page about moving forward.
Conclusions & Plans for February and on...
1. Facebook isn't the most private place...Time to up the privacy settings!
I once had my Facebook set to very private settings (which was definitely my preference), but once the owners gave it a "new look" with "new settings" again, and again, and again, I realized that many of my privacy settings changed. Anyone could search for me, people could see me when other friends tagged me in photos, and more. I am NOT a fan of this.
As soon as February 1st hits, Anna and I are going straight to our privacy settings before doing anything else. I'm not going to spend any time explaining why privacy settings are important to us (note: it's not because we have much to hide).
2. Over-using Facebook isn't the healthiest thing
To address this topic, our plan is to use Facebook during the work day as little as possible. This seems like an obvious point (and the right thing to do), but I do like using Facebook as a "15 minute break" at work, and it's difficult to not to reply to a friend when they say: "happy hour at 5:30?"
In addition to scaling back during the work day, we hope to be intentional about our use at home, especially on week nights. We decided it would be too tricky to land on a "daily time quota," but we'd commit to being aware of our time and touch base in mid February to see how we feel about our overall consumption.
3. It's time to ditch and hide crappy and/or nonexistent friends.
We all can relate to the scenario where we hung out with someone in high school, college, at an old job, and/or when we lived in another city, who we don't see anymore. This has been particularly challenging for me with the case of college (going to school out of state and only having the opportunity to see friends when I go visit every other year). I met so many wonderful people in college, but it's unlikely that I will see most of them again. Ultimately, Facebook friendship might not be necessary if I don't invest in the friendship anymore. If I do (coincidentally) bump into these "friends" down the road, there's always the option to reconnect.
Our main conclusion: if we're friends with someone we do not trust and/or are not fond of - de-friend. If we're friends with someone we have not talked to in ages and see no chance of talking to (or running into) ever again - de-friend. If we're friends with someone who we feel uncomfortable having view our personal information - de-friend. If we're friends with someone who is negative, overly self absorbed, or does not treat us with respect - de friend. You get the point.
Along these lines, if we're friends with someone who we're uncomfortable de-friending (ex: the relative who you know is a good person but drives you up the wall), it's time to hide...and perhaps de-friend later on, if need be.
4. Only use Facebook for the reasons we love.
I like that Facebook allows me to connect with people I'm unable to see on a regular basis. I like that it allows people to organize fun events in order to spend time together IN PERSON. I like that I can share about my life with relatives and close friends (note: I do not have one relative who lives in the same state as me). I like that when I've been unable to attend a wedding or special event of a close friend, I'm able to see special photos from the day. I like reading interesting articles or hilarious youtube videos that make me laugh or think critically about the world. I have some friends who make my day better just by posting an uplifting comment, quote, or update during the day. I could name a few more examples, but I'll hold off so I can conclude this post. :)
In the end, we're all different and it's up to each of us to know when the "too much of a good thing" theory applies to our Facebook consumption. This was definitely the case for Anna and me, which prompted the change. Hopefully February will be a great month for us and our Facebook makeover will pay off!