Reflections On My Month Without Facebook and Twitter

Posted: March 18, 2020 in Social Media
Tags: , , ,

Last month I wrote a blog post about my decision to walk away from Facebook and Twitter for a month. Now that the month of self-imposed exile is behind me, it’s time to reflect on the experience.

Not surprisingly, there is both good and bad that comes with ignoring channels of communication where one is accustomed to being very active. I still had 24 hours in my days, but now about two or more of those hours would not be spent in social media outside of work as had been my habit previously. So what changed?

There were definitely some things I missed – things I found myself instinctively reaching for my phone to pursue before remembering they were off limits. (It helped that I deleted the icons for the apps from my phone for the month.) Some of those moments were deer-in-the-headlights times when I thought, “Now what do I do? This is a time where I know I’d normally be on my phone.”

Specifically, the things I missed while away include:

  • Seeing photos of family and friends on Facebook;
  • Keeping current with important events in the lives of friends, extended family, and acquaintances I’m only connected with on Facebook or Twitter;
  • The doses of humor I get regularly from my funnier friends;
  • Dog photos;
  • Assisting with the Facebook and Twitter efforts of my church on Sunday mornings during our worship.

However, the things I enjoyed more while away is longer:

  • I read more. The 1.5 books I read during the time isn’t a lot, but it’s about 1 more than I usually read in a month.
  • I slept more. My body keeps telling me to do more of this. Not wasting an hour sitting in bed watching Facebook videos before going to sleep helped.
  • I felt freer to take more and longer walks with my dog, Callie. Add to that the now mandatory working from home due to the coronavirus and Callie worships me now more than ever if that’s possible.
  • I had to get over the temptation to narrate my life online and just live it instead. Living it is better.
  • I enjoyed wonderful meals without feeling the need to take a photo and post it somewhere. I just savored the food and the moment.
  • I had more time to do needed volunteer work in my role as Sunday School Director for my church where we are in the midst of some significant changes.
  • I enjoyed seeing far fewer political rants that just get my blood boiling and change nobody’s opinion.
  • I spent a little more time initially on LinkedIn browsing content related to my profession, but I eventually set a 10-minute daily limit on that through my phone’s app timer. I didn’t just want the month to be substituting one form of social media for another.
  • I more frequently browsed NextDoor.com as well to see what was going on in my neighborhood, but also set that to a limit of 10 minutes per day.
  • I took the time to more thoroughly explore Reddit for the first time. I can’t believe that hasn’t been in my regular repertoire of social media sites, but it hasn’t. I found it just as addictive as the others and deleted the app from my phone within 24 hours of first checking it out. I haven’t been back.
  • I fed my election year political hunger through regular visits to RealClearPolitics.com, but gave it the same 10 minute limit daily.

It would be nice to say that I did far more meaningful, transformational, important things with those 2-3 hours of time daily previously given to Facebook and Twitter, but this was an experiment to see what I would do – not a planned effort to do any predetermined list of replacements.

So what are the main takeaways for me from this experience?

  1. I’d rate my life as generally better for the month without Facebook and Twitter than how things were previously.
  2. If it was better without them, it would be silly to return to the earlier practice after the experiment.
  3. If I return to some degree to social media, it would be foolish to contribute to that which I was glad to get away from (such as politics), and wise to do more of what I missed (humor).
  4. Since there is some good in social media, I’ll return to it but in a time-limited capacity. For now, I’m going to use my phone’s app timer to limit each social media platform to 10 minutes a day outside of work or church-related service. That’s still more time in total than I should give to it if I max out all channels any given day. However, I usually didn’t hit the timer limit on many, if any, apps during the past month, so I don’t expect to do so going forward, either. You don’t have to choose either total addiction or total abstinence when it comes to social media. You can find a healthy balance and be disciplined in how you approach it.
  5. I encourage everyone who is on a computer or phone outside of work for an hour or more a day to seriously consider such a time away as I had this past month. So many people are addicted to their phones or other devices. You keep your head in it at home, at work, on the go, and in gatherings where life can be better and more meaningful if you are present in the real world and not in social media land. Try it! It will reveal some things to you about yourself and what you’re missing. If you’re like me, the detox will be time well spent, and social media has been my profession and personal passion for the past decade! I promise you’ll survive without it.

Life is a journey. We come to crossroads and we choose a path. At this point in my journey, it seems right to dial back to a reasonable daily limit how much non-work time I give to social media. There is too much else that is more important to do – including relaxing and doing nothing at times.

Peace.

Comments
  1. Homedika says:

    During my month without the Big Five, I received an email from an Argentinian friend I hadn’t seen in years who was passing through New York. When we met for dinner, he mentioned how hard I had been to track down without Facebook. Fortunately, I’ve listed my email publicly on my website and still had a Twitter profile at that point, so he was able to find an alternative method of contacting me. But for people who don’t work in industries where it’s normal to make your email public or to have a personal website, these types of missed connections are bound to happen.

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