FORTY DAYS WITHOUT FACEBOOK

I gave up Facebook for forty days and lived to tell about it. In fact, I recommend it. I know that not everyone needs a break from Facebook, but I sure did. Please don’t get me wrong; I love Facebook, probably a little too much. I am fairly sure I love Facebook more than the average person, but our admiration is likely for the same reason- staying in touch.

I attended college in Atlanta and my best friends are currently spread from Los Angeles to North Carolina. My extended family is also spread out, so Facebook is a great way to share news and photos.

Since I became a mom, I have also found Facebook useful for logistical purposes. I use Facebook to organize my Hy-Vee DISH group, promote my Resolve Support Group, and share my Quad City Mom’s Blog posts. The ways I use (and reasons I love) Facebook could go on and on.

Facebook is indeed an essential tool to stay in touch with friends, family and groups. Yet, because of this, Facebook and I were spending too much time together.

I needed a break, desperately.

I started noticing the problem about 6 months ago. I was so attached to my phone that my kids were mimicking my attachment and my battery would lose its charge midday. Nothing in my life was getting my full attention. My children weren’t getting my full attention, as I would often upload pictures of them during playtime. My husband was getting slighted because I would read my “urgent” Facebook messages while we were sharing a meal. My home and my “extracurricular” responsibilities were being affected too.

Most importantly, I was never getting my own undivided attention.  Instead of spending my downtime doing things that actually relax, energize, or nourish me, I was checking Facebook. I wasn’t writing or editing as much as I would like, I hadn’t read a book in a year, and I was even checking Facebook while I watched TV.

Yes, my addiction was bad.

Then, there was this:

Credit: Tom Nicol Photography Blame: Facebook

Credit: Tom Nicol Photography
Blame: Facebook

This picture was taken by the official photographer at my husband’s cousin’s wedding in January. That weekend was the very first night that both my husband and I spent the night away from our twins. Was I checking in with my mom to see how our kids were doing? Maybe. But more likely, I was on Facebook uploading pictures of the beautiful bride and centerpieces instead of living in the moment and enjoying this rare date night and important family event. Seeing this photo was a much needed slap in the face (pun intended).

Image (2)enjoy the wedding

I decided to go off Facebook “cold turkey,” as they say. I have a very black and white personality, so I knew that I couldn’t simply cut back. I am all or nothing, and it was time for some “nothing” in the Facebook department.

The first day was horrible. I didn’t even deactivate my Facebook account until 4 o’clock in the afternoon because I kept thinking of the addresses, event pages, and RSVPs that I needed to screen shot, which made me realize how dependent I had become. The second day was equally awful. I kept impulsively reaching for my phone and clicking on the folder where the Facebook app used to be. The fact that my hand was trying to check Facebook on autopilot without even consulting my brain solidified my decision.

During the first few days I noticed another concerning component of my Facebook addiction; I was still thinking in the frame of Facebook. When I took a picture of my children, for example, I would be composing the Facebook caption in my head while I was snapping away. I found that very disturbing. I was honestly appalled by the amount of time and space that Facebook was taking in my brain.

After a few days, it got easier. By the end of the second day, I felt more present in the moment and less obsessed with taking photos of my children to share on Facebook. I stopped scrolling for the app on autopilot and generally felt less attached to my phone.

I started using my down time in new, relaxing ways! In my first full Facebook-free week, I read an entire novel, took three baths, and spent three times as many hours doing freelance editing. I was more productive and, quite frankly, happier. I made direct contact with more friends and family members; instead of just “liking” a picture or status they posted on Facebook, I sent them a text or (gasp!) a note.

more family time

Ultimately, I accomplished a lot during my forty days off of Facebook. I read five books, completed four Shutterfly picture albums, and planned a trip to Asheville. I worked more (a positive outlet for me), worked out more, and took a lot more hot baths. I even toilet-trained one of my twins and managed to avoid the common parental pitiful of posting all about his bodily functions on Facebook.

Am I back on Facebook? Yes. After thirty-five days people asked me if I was excited to rejoin the social networking platform and, honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it. I was certainty not counting down the seconds, as I expected I would be. However, I did miss promoting the QCMB posts and events, cheering on the ladies in my 5K  training group, and inundating my family and friends with videos of my children, so I am happy to be back.

However, I plan to make some serious changes to my Facebook life: I placed the re-downloaded app on the very last page of my iPhone menu and turned off all of my push notifications. Hopefully I can keep up my new habit of more books, more baths and less Facebook.

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