A Modern Article

What I wasn't expecting when I cut back my Facebook use

What I wasn't expecting when I cut back my Facebook use

[Above: Plum blossom photo by Marc Carson]

My goal for the first quarter of 2014 was to limit myself to two times a week on Facebook, for 10-15 minutes. This was so incredibly hard, and in the end I bumped my goal down to more appropriate levels.

Here’s what I didn’t expect. A few things made the change really difficult:

Facebook is the key communication tool for some people

Some of my friends use Facebook’s messaging service to communicate with me, and they don’t seem to like using other methods. Either they like how the messaging works, or it’s just convenient for them because they’re on Facebook a lot. (If your newly-discovered fourth cousin seems to only respond to Facebook messages, what do you do? You message them on Facebook is what you do.)

Those pages have some real value

Facebook pages really have some value beyond just showing off. From local and industry news sources to colleagues that I respect, people are posting valuable information. A designer who I look up to posted a list of pages he thought everyone should follow. I followed them, and suddenly I saw so much cool new stuff. I had new ideas and learned new things. So there’s a really strong learning aspect to the Facebook pages experience. I really think it’s a bummer that Facebook plans to monetize these so hard.

I gain by sharing what I know and do

Unexpectedly, people who I respect told me they appreciated my Facebook posts. By being “out there” on social media, I granted myself more of a voice. They told me this made them realize that they have a lot to gain by sharing their thoughts more often. This created a huge puddle of thought that I just wanted to stare at all day. I always complain about people hoarding their precious ideas from public feedback, and suddenly I realized I was taking my own advice by sharing my ideas and it felt great.

Key takeaways

I wasn’t trying to completely get away from Facebook, but I wanted to spend less time there. After all, working with Facebook is part of my job—my clients pay me for my experience in doing so. So overall, mission-mostly-accomplished.

In the process of weaning myself a bit, I picked up some new habits. It’s now much easier for me to turn Facebook (or my computer) off at any given moment and do something else. I also make better use of my time when I’m on Facebook.

If you are thinking of cutting back your Facebook use, I highly recommend taking up a new—or old—hobby and using it as a replacement. I started a new journal (yes, on paper) and it’s about 25% full. Feels great.

Photo of Marc Carson