I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love being connected to so many friends, the glimpses of their minutia and highlights and even their low points. I doubly love the flashbacks feature and getting the peaks into my own daily grind from the past 9 years or so. I hate the way I mindlessly spend hours scrolling on it, even when there is LITERALLY nothing new to look at since the last time I picked up my phone. I also hate the way that I know it is shaping my outlook and mining my life for data and hitting me with advertisements that are so on point that it seems like they are listening to me talk to my husband. So yesterday, as part of my Showing Up project, I decided I was going to be on Facebook less. I spent less than 30 minutes on Facebook yesterday and have been on there for 10 minutes today, as of 4:24pm. This is a massive reduction in my scroll time! I have already made some observations.
Facebook is sooooo easy. Parenting a toddler is a very demanding job, but it is intermittently demanding. I spend most of my day on, but I get all these little bits and pieces of “free” time. It doesn’t seem like enough time to actually use my brain or accomplish something, so I just check out of my surroundings and spend time scrolling on Facebook. It feels like “doing” something in a way, and it sort of makes me feel connected to the outside world. I’m checking on people I care about in a passive way, maybe I’m absorbing current events or being exposed to interesting articles (which I don’t click on all that often because I don’t feel like I will have the time to finish them before I’m needed again), but I’m not really doing any of those things. I’m just running the clock down until I have to be on again, which could be in 10 seconds or 10 minutes. I cannot remember how I passed this time when my big kids were little, but I know it passed somehow!
It doesn’t seem like any significant or usable time, but it is. It is actually challenging to fill that empty time with something else! Since yesterday, I have finished a book (I was over half way through it already, but I started it over a month ago and it was mostly languishing), edited a dozen photos, watched several episodes of a show I’m bingeing, had text conversations with multiple people, played a game with my husband, unsubscribed from a lot of junk mail, worked on cleaning out multiple inboxes, and listened to multiple podcast episodes that I’ve been putting off. Oh, I’m also writing this post! I’ve spent a lot of time researching new ways to replace some of my Facebook habits, too because…
Facebook is a definite habit and will require some new habits to replace it, even in the short-term. I have pulled out my phone and clicked that little blue square on multiple occasions and not even realized what I had done until it started loading. Ack! I usually open Facebook first thing in the morning and scroll as I wake up, which is not great, but I need something mildly interesting, yet not mentally demanding because I am not a morning person. I don’t want to open a book or blog or anything I care about because my brain is just not in that zone upon waking. I’m not going to meditate or do a devotional or anything of worth until I have had coffee, and I have to wake up a certain amount to even get to the coffee! This morning, I opened TheSkimm instead. It did the trick, but I may try something different tomorrow. I don’t miss the content on Facebook specifically, I just miss the ease of defaulting to it.
Most of the lists of “Things To Do Instead of Facebook” are not written by or for people with small children. I will not be taking a nap or popping out to see a movie by myself or watching makeup tutorials or busting out with some yoga during my mini breaks…but there are things I can do with my little bits of time. It is just requires being a lot more thoughtful. I can feel the lazy, mindlessness of Facebook calling out to me and it takes effort to do something else with the time (especially when there is a high probability that I will be interrupted while trying to accomplish something). I also deeply love vegging out and am not looking to be productive 24/7, so I’m not in the market for more random tasks to fill time with.
I’m not quitting Facebook. I have invested many years into documenting my life (and my kids’ lives) there and I love being reminded of what happened on each day in the years prior. I want these current days to be part of that record for Future Kyla, like the way Jo got “Costco” confused with “taco” today and told K that we were “going to a taco party! Bye!”. I like keeping up with my friends and family in that space. I don’t even know how long I am going to keep this little experiment running. I didn’t start it with any goals in mind, I was just curious if I could step away and what the results would be. So far, it has been pretty interesting and I’m not hating it.
So that’s all for now. I’d love to hear about your experiences with Facebook/social media fasting or limiting, or new habits that you have instituted in situations like that. If we are real life friends, I would love it if you would text or FB message me about your minutia or news or great new book you read or how you felt about last night’s X-Files episode, because I’d like to foster those personal connections more. I think we tend to assume people get all of our “news” through Facebook and we miss out on a lot of chances for actual connection. The little moments in our days are what add up to a life and connecting with others gives life depth and worth; regardless of what happens with this experiment, I’d like to spend more time investing in those things.