What’s the first thing you do every morning? Perhaps you pop the radio on or go for a wee. Maybe you say good morning to your partner or kids? For me, until recently, the first thing I’d do every morning, without fail, was switch on my phone and check Facebook.
Before I’d even said good morning to Mr P or our little girl, I would catch up on the goings-on of my closest 350 friends.
I’d often reply to comments and questions, in threads I was involved in, before realising I hadn’t actually woken up yet and couldn’t quite work out how to string a sentence together. But that was only the beginning of my daily relationship with Facebook. And by relationship, I mean one of those obsessive, can’t-live-without, probably-doing-you-more-harm-than-good relationships. If Facebook were a man, my friends would have told me to dump him a long time ago.
Checking Facebook throughout the day had become a subconscious habit. Just got out the shower? Check Facebook. Standing in a shop queue? Check Facebook. On the bus? Check Facebook. Laptop taking longer than usual to log on? Check Facebook. Sitting watching telly? Check Facebook. I’d be walking along the street, and would find my fingers twitching, edging towards my bag, where my phone was, gently calling to me “You haven’t checked Facebook for ten minutes….. think of all the things you’re missing out on!”
I’d even find myself feeling annoyed if nobody had posted anything interesting since the last time I’d looked. “What is everyone doing?” I’d ask myself, ignoring the obvious answer: They’re all offline, living their life.
So three weeks ago, I made a decision: I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. I’ve got friends who have done this in the past, and when they told me, my reaction was 70% sheer horror and 30% lying-to-myself smugness, as I thought ‘Oh goodness, I’m so glad I don’t need to do that!’ (My reaction to Dry January is always pretty much the same but ssshhh I actually really don’t need to do that… honest.)
Recently, however, something made me decide to do it, in a bid to gain more balance in my life. Ah balance, that (mythical?) thing we’re all searching for. I’m officially terrible at balance. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and when it comes to social media, my desire to be on top of EVERYTHING that is going on was being put ahead of pretty much everything else. But I realised that cutting back my Facebook usage would potentially make a huge difference.
So, one day, I did it. I held the ‘home’ button down. Watched as all my iPhone icons started wobbling, and I pressed the cross next to the Facebook icon. Buh-bye Facebook.
The plan was to only access Facebook when on my laptop. Now, I’ll be honest, I’m on my laptop a lot. I work from home/cafes and 70% of my working day is spent on a laptop (the other 20% is going to meetings and taking photographs). So this wasn’t me saying I’d decided to stop logging onto Facebook full stop. I’m not some kind of crazy fool. But I wanted to restrict my Facebook use to the hours that I work. I wanted to be in control of my Facebook usage. Rather than be controlled by it.
So what happened when I deleted the Facebook app?
I suddenly discovered the meaning of life. Oh OK, that’s a fib. But it would be nice if it were that simple, don’t you think? No meaning of life discovery, but I do much prefer my relationship with Facebook now. It feels like I’ve dumped my controlling, obsessive boyfriend and found myself a kind, caring boyfriend who is there when I need him but doesn’t make unrealistic demands on my time.
I log onto my laptop every morning to start work, and one of two things happen: either I see 20 or so notifications pop up on my screen and I spend 30 minutes catching up on conversations with friends and colleagues. Or I realise that I actually haven’t missed anything of note since I last logged off, the day before. It’s a nice feeling – choosing when I engage with Facebook.
And OK in the interests of full disclosure, I’ve developed a bit of an evening iPad habit. I’ve still got the Facebook app on my iPad, and most evenings, I’ll have a little look to see what’s happening on there. But it still feels like a controlled use of Facebook, rather than an all-consuming one.
I’ve also developed a healthy habit of closing down Facebook on my laptop browser when I’m actually working. I set myself goals – “Finish this piece of work and then you can check Facebook” which feels so much more balanced than having it open all the time, seeing notifications pop up and hearing that PING every time someone mentions me or replies to a comment.
It weirdly feels like an actual weight has lifted from my shoulders. And like I have a bit more space in my brain. Which is nice! So I’m hoping to keep up my habit of Less Facebook More Balance. Just don’t ask me to try Dry January…
This is me with Instagram… but the problem with Instagram is that there is ALWAYS something new to see. And you can’t restrict it to just the computer! So it looks like I’m stuck with my demanding, attention-seeking, clingy boyfriend. I’m actually jealous of your new relationship…. #relationshipgoals right there!!!
I love this post Alison – and I can relate to so much of it. I deleted Facebook off my phone ages ago for the same reasons. Every now and again I re-upload it (that’s the beauty isn’t it? Nothing has to be forever) but I almost always delete it again soon afterwards. I find Messenger equally time sucky and it can be really distracting when you’re in a group convo with a gazillion others, every time your phone beeps. I find turning off Facebook and Twitter and making sure I don’t sneek a look at IG when I’m working all really help with my focus and the time it takes me to actually complete a task. The online world is so busy but we don’t have to actively take part in every conversation all the time – it would be like running round laps at a party and dipping in to every conversation for 10 seconds before dashing off again. Exhausting and basically meaningless!
Great article! I also deleted the Facebook app from my phone a while back and like you, now tend only to look at it when I have the laptop open. I was starting to feel like it was adding to my to do list and feeling guilty if I hadn’t commented on peoples’ photos. These days I just look at my notifications to see if there’s anything I really want to look at. And funnily enough, I’ve found the less I’m looking at it the less I really want to! x
oh god this is me with twitter. aint no way im deleting it tho! but definitely need to impose some rules on it.
I am tempted to give this a go, but as Lucy says there is always instagram! 🙂 xx
I’ve realised recently that my near constant switching between various social media platforms, emails, conversations with the kids, writing, plus whatever else needs to be done in any particular moment, I’m actually slowly but surely losing the ability to concentrate on JUST ONE THING for any decent length of time. I think switching off from it all would do wonders for my attention span, but it’s very difficult when it is the way you earn a living. Restricting Facebook to work hours sounds like a good plan, I wish I could do similar with Instagram too.
I know I am terrible for just looking instead of doing something productive.
Facebook is my least love TBH. As my family are there.
But like Lucy IG is always sucking me in.
About 6 months ago I took an unintentional break from SM as a whole. Still popped in but I wasn’t obsessed. I was like this for months and it was quite nice. Slowly I have got back in that picking young phone every few minutes drain.
Think I will set myself a little target. Xxx
Okay, this is going to sound a bit weird given what I do for a living, but I’ve never had Facebook on my phone! I use my blog PAGE for stuff, but pretty much never look at my feed or friends or anything like that. I’m quite happy with it that way too! My partner is massively into Facebook though, and so speaking from the other side, I can say it’s pretty annoying sometimes. There have been plenty of occasions where I’ve felt like his ‘friends’ online must be far more interesting than me, and it doesn’t always make you feel terribly good about yourself.
My phone had to go to the shop for 2 weeks and I was much more productive without 24 hour access to FB but it’s tough to delete!
Love this article! I must admit, I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone but keeping its use to certain business hours is probably the best idea ever. Now I just need to get my fifteen year old to follow the same practice -she is totally addicted to Facebook and wherever we go, I hear her phone binging something new. We did manage to go on holiday for a week without it this summer as we left all technology at home (shock, horror) yes, my name was mud for a while, but it was lovely to just play board games, go for walks and just be us for a short while. I was actually quite sad when we got back home and everyone was back to being on their iPad and ignoring each other. I guess the way forward is just to control usage!
“Rather than dispersing risk and lowering borrowing costs as former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan predicted, the contracts have exacerbated the debt crisis.”,If AG was paying attention to this blog, he would have been made aware that risk is sold out the front door then enters again thru the back door. AG forgot to address the other side of the equation.
I’ve same thing recently (with Instagram too). It feels good and I’m actually paying attention to friends and my little boy. I’m a bit stricter (although I still have both apps on my iPad) and have a once a day/week kinda rule. It’s nice not to be tied to it.
I SO need to give this a go too – think im worse with IG though tbh!
Interesting perspective. I got rid of it because it was needy and constantly seeking attention; it kept telling me I had more notifications and messages than were actually there!
Such a great post. You’ve given me the push up the backside to do it… I can’t cope with all the time sucks!
I remember being like this. In the end, I deleted the app and I felt so relieved. I do check it every so often using the internet but having notifications to check makes things easier. Darn social media and how addictive it can be.
You’re not the the first person I know who has done this, I was actually just having the chat with a friend of mine the other day. I can imagine it must be so nice not having all the apps at the click of a finger at all times.
Actually I would like to not only delete the Facebook app from my phone but probably other social media app along with it – it feels like it’s eating up my life! Maybe I will take inspiration from this and just flipping do it.
Ive been feeling this pull myself, and your post has convicted me even more! Between Facebook and Instagram, I feel an increasing need to unplug and be present. Gah! It’s hard though, isn’t it?!
It’s really hard Claire!!
I need to do this. I wake up bright and early and think I’ll get loads done but then I sneak a peak at my phone and then 30 minutes have disappeared along with that bright and early feeling.
I’m worse on Twitter and Instagram (which is why I miss all the gossip!) but I do still get very easily drawn in by Facebook. I also close it down on my laptop when I need to focus. I’m a bit scared of missing something on those days when I’m away from my laptop all day. I do get the 7am thing though. First thing I pick up is my phone, and I feel so hypocritical because I have my daughter’s phone block all her apps until she’s ready for school! Mind you if I wasn’t on my phone first thing, I don’t think I’d manage to wake up!