Part 1 – Before
I decided to take part in FacebookFreeFebruary about two weeks ago. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, both personally and as someone with a professional interest in psychology and sociology.
I find that Facebook has both many positives and negatives, and that it largely depends on how you use it. Aside from that however, the tendrils of sweaty addiction are rampant, irrelevant, life-wasting and depressing. This is my opinion, and this is why I chose to engage with Facebook Free February (FFF). I will deactivate my account and remove the app from my phone. I will not visit Facebook for the entire month of February. Rather, I will try and reconnect with what I used to do before Facebook time existed, and at the same, reconnect with a forgotten “me”.
FFF asks for comments in the “Before”, “During” and “After” experience.
My first thought when I decided to dis-engage was: “Will I be able to do it?”
I don’t mean this exactly in a coping, meltdown sense, but a query as to whether I actually have the discipline to cut off curiosity, contact, and stay away from the delicious recipes that everyone puts up. I decided: yes. I can do it.
What will I miss the most? The RECIPES. Definitely.
Contact with what my friends are doing. Inability to communicate bugbears, pointless details and excited check-ins. My news knowledge will drop dramatically.
My biggest fears? Will I suddenly become a non-entity and cease to exist? No, I’m not that bad. I presume there will be moments where the urge to look will be aggravating. Other than that, I’m feeling confident. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m taking it a little further. I’m not going to read any online news at all. I will rely on the old-fashioned printed version, nestled happily in the shops. I may even be moved to buy some sweets or some other forgotten pleasure.
I’m going to make a list of “things I used to do and want to do again”. Every time I want to look at Facebook, I will do something off the list. These are my starting points. Feel free to follow me on my journey.
Part 2 – During
Close to halfway now and so far, so good. To my surprise, I have experienced only the idlest of curiosity as to what I might be missing in the lives of my friends. For me, Facebook seems to be all about habit. When I’m working on the laptop, I stop myself from checking, but it’s only an impulse. Once I move past it, I don’t experience any panic or upset. A few times I’ve wanted to post silly irrelevant thoughts, like how my watch is suffering from arrhythmia, or to tell everyone that it was World Nutella Day.
For me, the positives far outweigh the negatives. My mind feels freer and less distracted; new thoughts and ideas have been popping into my head. My creativity has been given a boost. I still read articles online, but have been trying to keep to those that are of specific interest to me, rather than be lured into watching an endless stream of posted videos. I’ve kept abreast of the news, but have kept it at a distance. While I am by no means saying that not knowing what’s going on the world is a good thing, I find that distancing myself from it has had a positive effect.
The negatives for me remain somewhat elusive so far. I recently read that a certain percentage of Facebook users don’t realise they are using the “internet”. For them, they are one and the same. Scary stuff. To be fair, however, being away from FB does have its negatives. Eventually, the main negative would be losing touch with friends, especially those that are far away. For this, Facebook is an excellent communication and sharing tool. For this reason, I think it is important to realise that for certain people, Facebook can be vitally important, a link to society and friendship, rather than merely a vehicle of disassociation.
I still have work to do, and so had better go and do it.
Part 3 – After
28 / 02/15
I thought is also best to post my thoughts directly before returning to the world of Facebook. To be completely honest, I am shocked at how little I have missed the entire thing. I have thought a great deal about it, and have come to the conclusion, that above all else, I just miss the pictures and photos. Of my family and friends, their life events, their joys, their sorrows. All of my family live far away from me, and so the visual contact I have of them is through Facebook. A huge amount of interaction with my “in-law” family is also through Facebook, and I’ve missed out on that too, this past month. Other than that however, I am in no way lessened by the experience. In fact, I will most likely not return to the the lvel at which I used to operate. I have found new ways to manage the news that I want to see, and I don’t need Facebook to help me. I recognise, more completely than ever, that it is an all immersive world into which it is easy to get sucked in. My phone poking has dropped by half, at least. I feel absolutely fine. I’m curious as to what, if anything, I will feel when I return tomorrow.
My “re-entry” into Facebook had all the fanfare of a broken kazoo. I logged back in, put up a picture to announce my return, checked updates from a few specific people, had a quick scroll down, saw many cats, got bored and closed it down.
As I said earlier, it’s quite clear to me now that, for me, Facebook is just a habit, motivated by boredom and inertia. As soon as I start doing other work, or participating in other activities, I forget all about it. I will stay with Facebook, for the people that matter to me, and with whom I would not be able to communicate properly without it.
I absolutely understand and respect that Facebook can be very important and worthwhile to many people, for many different reasons. However, I would encourage all of you to examine your relationship with Facebook to see if you fall into that category, or one more like my own. For me, Facebook strikes as a visual version of white noise, dimming and dulling our senses to some listless point.
The world waits. Go out and play!