Report from the Facebook-Free Frontier


I’ve made it three whole days without Facebook.

Well, not entirely without Facebook.

See, here’s what happened.

I started reading very interesting things on the internet instead of vapidly scanning my Facebook feed for interesting things that other people read. No Buzzfeed quizzes. No HuffPo Parents articles. Stuff that I found really important or moving.

Like this. And this. And this. I had to share some of it. I’ve learned that my friends cover a wide range of interests, and I enjoy seeing which ones identify with things that matter to me. In a way it validates our Facebook friendship. I like that. You can share articles on Facebook without actually going to Facebook, except for the quick login to authorize it, so… why not.

And our friends, they were having a baby. How else do people find out about these things?

I looked for advertising/marketing jobs in Alabama to explore my prospects and make a plan for brushing up on relevant skills. Wouldn’t you know, social media management is one of them? And it HAS been three years since I used HootSuite… I needed to set up a centralized resource to manage all of my social media. You know, for professional development.

I don’t consider these little lapses as “fails” in my experiment. A) I’m not a particularly principled person. B) I’ve learned what I needed to learn.

1) I don’t do boredom

The second I felt bored with what I was doing (i.e. watching the kids play, boiling water for dinner, sitting in a parked car with a sleeping baby), I got a twitch. I reached for my phone. Sometimes I would hop over to another social media platform to look for new notifications. I don’t have as many as frequently as on Facebook, so I found myself at the end of the line pretty fast. Then I’d do some dishes instead.

2) I’m addicted to social media

I thought it was just Facebook. Clearly it was not. But no wonder. Talking about ourselves causes our brains to light up in the same region as taking cocaine does (see here for more). Keeping this blog is evidence that I’m addicted to that reward feeling that comes with sharing my thoughts. Facebook was just way easier and more immediately gratifying.

3) Now I feel a bit free

Not having Facebook to tell me what to read or think about gives me a sense of agency. Not having the notifications to derail a train of thought has led me to a more intellectually satisfying Internet experience. I feel more inspired. More creative. Definitely more productive.

4) I miss my friends

I’m glad to have stayed connected to some through other means, but we all know that Facebook is where the action is. I want to know if they had fun weekends, if the new job is going well, if anyone else is feeling as worn by the grind as I am.

5) I’ll go back…in moderation

I never intended to cut out Facebook entirely. It would be like giving up wine or chocolate Just Because. No thanks. This time away has helped me see how inept my use of it was. So I’ll go back with limits. No notifications from my groups. None of this retreating from boredom. If I catch myself trying to stall my kids so I can finish typing a comment, I will force myself to take a longer break. A week, even.

Everything in moderation, right?

Have you had a social media breakdown? I’d love to hear about your break and what you learned!

2 thoughts on “Report from the Facebook-Free Frontier

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever made it a point to stop using social media, but I’ve had to lessen it at times because it gets so overwhelming! I was part of a Facebook mommy group that I just finally had to hide after a while. Too many posts that were irrelevant to me from complete strangers.

    I also find that there’s a ton of comparing done on Facebook. You see someone having a beautiful stroll with her family on a sunny day and can’t stand that you’re cooped up in the house with whiny kids.

    The part where I’ve scaled back a lot of is my blog social media. It just got too overwhelming after a while, which is kind of two-faced of me to say since I still post blog posts on social media. But if felt like I wasn’t really engaged with anyone, but was rather just reading a bunch of blasts about people’s posts.

    But yes, I can totally relate to your itch to check. I think it’s fine if you’re just there and the kids are simply playing by themselves. I would be more concerned if they’re clamoring for my attention but I ignore them in lieu of my smart phone lol.

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