Earlier this year I found myself up against a major case of overwhelm, and as a result I cut back on many of my self-imposed activities and projects. As part of my efforts to get my sanity back on track, I took a Facebook vacation, blocking it entirely from my browsers. I did the same for Twitter.
I returned, hesitantly, to tweeting a little while ago, but only last week did I log on again to Facebook. What had I missed? Major news? Life-changing events for pals? A deluge of business offers? Not so much.
What did I miss in 3 months away from Facebook?
- A handful of contacts had mentioned me or asked for input, and I felt bad that they’d been left dangling.
- As far as I can tell, the news from friends was minor. In a quarter of a year, nobody underwent anything dramatic, traumatic, or life-altering.
- I received two direct messages from authors I know, asking specifically for something to support their writing careers. Again, I’m sorry they didn’t get a response from me.
- There were several new Likes for my author page, despite the fact there was no fresh content there.
How I’ll use Facebook from now on:
- I pretty much “got away” with being away.
- But I don’t want to abandon Facebook entirely. There’s a middle ground between never visiting at all, and having it open as a browser tab for 14 hours a day. Knowing that readers like to connect via this channel, (although I’m uneasy about Facebook squeezing me financially to reach that audience), if fans want me to be accessible there, then I’d like to oblige. And according to this BBC article, Facebook is now too strong to fizzle.
- I’ll be cutting back drastically on my visits. For personal friends, I plan to check in once a week. That way if anyone does announce an engagement to Jude Law, I won’t be too far out of the loop.
- I’d like to adjust my account settings, for example turning off Facebook messaging, to avoid direct requests falling into a black hole. But I couldn’t find how to do this. Nor could I find the option to receive messages – and not the rest of the noise – by email. I assume Facebook has done this intentionally, to drive members to their site.
My Facebook vacation advice for you:
- Notice how much time you spend on Facebook. How happy does it make you? What else could you do with those hours?
- If you don’t want to take a complete Facebook vacation, try cutting back. Major browsers all have plug-ins which allow you to block certain sites; for Firefox, try Block Site. Chrome has StayFocusd [sic], which includes the option to limit your time on a site and then block it for the rest of the day. Getting Facebook off your phone would also be a significant step.
- 2018 update: Facebook themselves just announced some initial tools to help you reduce the time you spend there.
- Don’t assume everyone checks their Facebook messages. If you don’t hear back, try another method. If you have someone’s email address, I strongly suggest you use it.
What role does Facebook play in your life? And are you happy with that?