I’m not sure exactly when I joined Facebook. I just tried to check and wound up spending 10 minutes checking on a bunch of other stuff.
This is what my life has become.
At some point in the last 10 years or so, I joined Facebook and immediately got into the “who can get more friends” contest with my wife. It was fun to make contact with people I’d hadn’t seen in person since high school graduation, find some college friends, and generally putter around the site. But at some point, things took a turn.
It’s popular to say that Facebook has been a destructive force since 2015, when the most recent presidential election got rolling, but on a personal level, I think it started before that. That whole “ripping the country apart” and “having a hostile power spread vast amounts of disinformation” and “turning people into walking meme zombies” is a more recent development, but let’s get back to that later.
Somewhere along the line, Facebook became an immense vortex that was sucking away my time in great, greedy handfuls. There was always more to scroll. The ads were getting in the way, so I’d go a little further. Something would piss me off, so I’d have to jump into the fray with my own two cents. This led to a neverending flame war which I’d eventually bow out of because I realized it was easier to convince a brick wall to be a penguin than to convince an irrational person that reality is real. I gave up on engaging. But something would still piss me off, so I’d scroll a bit more to see if someone zinged back the first person. There was no end. I’d try to keep my visits short, but when it becomes a dozen times a day, does it really matter how long you’re there each time?
This week, I began to make a conscious decision to rein in my usage. Aside from business and podcast posts, I’ve tried to avoid Facebook like the plague. Even with those guidelines, I’ve still been sucked in twice. A half hour gone in a heartbeat. But it’s an improvement, so I’ll take a bit of progress even if there’s some backsliding mixed in.
Another time sink that I’ve also been avoiding this week is Reddit. That one was mostly by accident, but I’ve realized how much time has been wasted there as well. In both cases, I’d rationalize my usage by saying that it was helping me keep up with current events. You know what’s happened in the past 3 days? The world hasn’t exploded and I’ve been significantly more relaxed. It’s a Christmas miracle I tells ya.
Now don’t worry, I haven’t gone full-blown Ludite. I’m still on Instagram and Twitter, both for business and pleasure. Those haven’t taken up nearly the amount of time The Big FB has, so I give them a few minutes each day. I supposed you could consider it a sacrificial lamb at the altar of social media – a mere pittance compared to what I was offering up last week. To be honest, I don’t even truly miss it. The main reason I’ve gotten stuck there at all has been sheer habit.
So what’s the plan going forward? Unless I invest in some kind of social media management tool so that I never have to see the actual interface again, I’ll still be on Facebook at some points. However, after this trial period, I want to keep the progress I’ve made. So do me a favor, would ya? If you see that green little dot next to my name on Facebook sometime, don’t poke me… drive over to my house and smack me.