How to Starve Facebook Before it Starves You
January is fast-approaching, and brings with it that ‘new year, new you’ stuff we all love so much. If you’re thinking about leaving social media in 2015, you’re not alone.
A New Kind of Addiction
Since the internet has been around, the paraphernalia of permanent connectivity has become an integral part of our lives. The digital world gives us to communicate with our friends at the click of the finger – whether in the same room or on another continent – largely because of social media.
Facebook has approximately 1.23 billion monthly active users, and for many of those people, it’s become a dangerous habit. Alongside its ability to message friends, comes its ability to allow users to compulsively check the profiles of others, and is something that has become a burden rather than a fun way to fill our time.
Why are we so addicted?
Do we really want to see other people’s pictures and status updates? Or are we just compelled to log on because of habit?
Maybe a bit of both, but it’s important to remember that you are comparing the insecure, private version of yourself to another person’s best self. You might have a great relationship, great home and great career, but when you have every other person’s life in a snapshot at your fingertips, you’ll find yourself questioning whether you’re doing things right. We’re taking Facebook more seriously than we realise, and by doing so, are creating a situation of unnecessary anxiety.
How can we stop?
If you’re thinking about quitting social media, you certainly aren’t alone. Last month, popular Instagrammer, Essena O’Neill, announced she was leaving social media behind, despite having over half a million followers. She said her addiction left her feeling empty and consumed. More recently, in celeb land, Ed Sheeran made the decision to temporarily quit social media, because he found himself ‘seeing the world through a screen’.
But before you make the decision to remove yourself from the social media bubble, it might be an idea to monitor time spent on social media networks using an app such as the App Usage Tracker (free on Android phones). It might only be taking up an hour of your week, but if you’re spending 5 precious hours scrolling through mundane status updates, it might be time to start that detox once and for all.
Statistics show that Americans aged between 18-64 spend an average of 3.2 hours each day on social networking sites. Think about how much other fun stuff you could be doing in that time!
When you inevitably find yourself back in the bubble, take a break and note down how it makes you feel. Remind yourself that the way someone presents themselves on social media isn’t necessarily a true representation of reality. You’re constantly exposed to people who appear happier and more successful than you, but take yourself away from it and you might just start appreciating what you already have.
Quit social media and become a Productivity Ninja!
Benefit number one, your productivity will rocket! Social media is the enemy when it comes to distracting us. We waste insane amounts of time scrolling through updates and creeping our friend’s holiday photos – time which could be spent on a whole bunch of other, more fulfilling activities.
Hiding yourself away from social media will teach you one thing if nothing else – you don’t always have to be connected to everything all of the time. Instead of being totally consumed by your phone or computer, learn to be present. Take notice of things around you instead of taking a photo and posting it straight on Instagram.
Now that you’ve left this parallel universe behind, you have so much more time on your hands for things like reading and face-to-face communication! Remember that? And if you’re friends and family aren’t close by, try calling or video-chatting with them. You’ll also find things tend to be a lot less misconstrued that way…
Have you ever found yourself in a great mood, until a friend decides to unload all of their problems onto you? A similar thing happens with Facebook. For every positive comment, there are five negative comments surrounding it. Take a break, meditate and clear your mind of negativity!
We’re so used to hiding behind screens that it’s easy to forget how to communicate like functioning human beings. Cut out the empty promises and the ‘maybe I’ll come to your Facebook event I have no intention of going to’. Instead, call your friends and be frank. It’s time to get back to regular human interaction.
Make it your New Year’s Resolution
Alarm bells ringing? Then why not make a Facebook-detox your first plan for 2016. Log off any social media accounts that have a negative effect on your life – whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – and see how you feel after a week. If you don’t miss them, try it for another week, and another…
Somewhere along the line, curiosity will probably get the better of you, you’re only human after all. But your main focus should be to stop social media ruling your life!
*Since Facebook seems to be the social network most of us find ourselves battling with, I have named it specifically, but the basics apply to most networks anyway.
By Emma Gibbins