So I tried to quit Facebook for the past week! According to an article written by The New York Times, people spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook. While this may seem like a small amount, the article puts it in perspective when it compares this 50 minutes with the time we spend on other activities that seem more of a necessity.
For example, we spend an average of 1.07 hours eating and drinking and that’s not too far off from the 50 minutes we spend on social media sites like Facebook. Not to mention how this is merely an average, which means some others spend more than that on Facebook. No prizes for guessing who is one of them! I find myself scrolling on the toilet, while my son naps next to me, during lunch, in the car, etc. I refresh the page every few minutes just to see if anything new comes up. More often than not, something new usually does pop up and the scrolling repeats.
I remember thinking about this while sitting on the sofa watching my son play in his playpen. I turned to my husband and told him I wanted to try giving up Facebook. My husband, being the extremely private person that he is, spends very little time on Facebook. He told me it was a good idea and that I’d “be amazed at the amount of time you get back”. Time – the thing I wasn’t getting enough of (besides sleep, of course). Tempted by the thought of having more time, I looked around my Facebook settings to see what options I had. Here are the baby steps I have taken so far just in case you’re planning on kicking the habit yourself:
I didn’t really have to worry about this because I haven’t posted a whole album of photos on Facebook in awhile. The last time I did, I had already backed them up onto my hard disk. The very first thing to do is to make sure you’ve got a copy of all your pictures and videos you have stored on your Facebook account. You don’t want to have to go through losing them all should you decide to delete your account.
2.Choose your exit plan
Facebook has the following options:
–Log out, which is highly recommended by Facebook.
–Deactivate your account. Facebook then asks if you’re sure and gives you a list of people that will miss you when you’ve deactivated. Facebook also gives you a list of reasons and asks why you’re deciding to deactivate. Whichever reason you choose, Facebook then prompts and gives you a possible solution. The only reason that doesn’t have a prompt/solution from Facebook is “I have another Facebook account.”
–Delete your profile entirely and permanently. I actually had difficulty finding this option in my settings and had to google how to do it. So according to this article, you can actually download a copy of your Facebook data before deleting your account. The article also provides you with this link to proceed with account deletion. Once you’ve done your part, Facebook may take up to 90 days to delete the data in your profile. While Facebook is doing its job, no one will be able to access your profile.
Out of these three options, I decided to log out of my account. I found this to be the option that gave me the least anxiety because I was worried that there were pictures I missed while backing up or that there were important events friends were inviting me to through Facebook, etc. And also because #babysteps!
3.Don’t look back
Trying to stay away from Facebook made me realize how addicted I am to it and how second nature it has become for me to just click the Facebook icon on my phone and scroll away. I caught myself doing so when the app prompted me to log back in. So staying away really requires some level of self awareness and effort!
4.Bask in your new found freedom
Having tried this for the past week, I found myself having extra pockets of time during the day and especially so at night. On the first day, I found myself entirely immersed in playing with my son. I mean, of course I play and spend time with him before I logged out of Facebook. But I always had my phone nearby, ever ready for me to pick it up when my son was entertained enough with his toys for me to sneak a short scroll. I also sleep so much earlier now that I don’t spend an hour or more scrolling through Facebook before bed.
5.Back to basics
One of the things I highly rely on Facebook for is to remind me of my friends’ birthdays. I used to be able to remember them but got so complacent because Facebook sends me notifications early each morning that I should wish my friends a very happy birthday. Now that I don’t have that luxury anymore, it’s back to the good old pen and paper. Rather excited for this because I have always been a scheduler kind of person.
A week has passed and I have yet to deactivate or permanently delete my account because I fear I’d have withdrawals. As Facebook aptly prompted me with a video not too many weeks ago, I have been on and using Facebook (fiercely so) for the past 10 years. To suddenly drop the app entirely would be tough, especially since so many things are linked to my Facebook account. To be honest, I don’t think I will (or can) entirely quit Facebook. This is especially so since the people around me are very much reliant on it for everyday use. I even lapsed back on some days and found myself scrolling for just a bit while on the toilet or just before I went to bed. But because I made a conscious effort to limit my time on Facebook, I really did gain a lot more time to do other things. This time is important right now considering I want to explore hobbies like crafts and baking. I also realize I am a lot more present while with family and friends.
So perhaps quitting isn’t a very feasible option right now. Perhaps an effort to limit the time spent on Facebook is the way to go and the time I get back can be used on people and things that really matter.