You CAN use Facebook less

We all moan about it. Hell, it’s even cool to hate Facebook now. And we all know the truth: Facebook doesn’t actually make us feel good all the time, even though we thought it did; there are some people that you just don’t care what they had for breakfast yesterday; and I read an article earlier this week that said that people who use social media a lot tend to be lonelier…

So why can’t we get off the damn thing?!

I think it’s a combination of things:

  • It is still one of the easiest ways to contact a large number of people
  • Some of us are secretly worried that no one will miss us if we leave Facebook (and what does that mean for us as a person?! Really, nothing – but try telling our ego that)
  • No one wants to be the first to leave the flock (and maybe have to come crawling back… eeesh, awkward!)
  • Some groups or organizations have a Facebook page as their only social media forum, so you need to be on it to contact them or join their group
  • It’s still one of the easiest ways to invite a lot of different people to an event

I get it.

I came off Facebook for nearly half a year. I am now back on it (slightly begrudgingly, I’ll admit) for two of the reasons above: there was an awesome group I wanted to join and they were only contactable on Facebook, and it is the method most of my friends use to contact people. Note: I did try to get people to email me. They did – but I felt like a dinosaur 🙂

So, I am back on it – with rules this time. And they are working out quite nicely for me. So now I feel like I’m working with Facebook, and using it as the tool it’s meant to be, rather than Facebook controlling my life.

Here are my suggestions for taking the reins back from Facebook. Try one/some of them out, and see if they work for you!

1. Stop following EVERYONE.

Yes, I know, it sounds drastic. But if I want to find out what someone is up to, I go to their page, rather than having it thrust into my face every time I log on. It’s so nice having a blank newsfeed, and choosing what I see!

2. Remove the app from your phone.

I can’t get on Facebook using my phone, and I didn’t realize what a difference this would make. Whenever I forget and I click a link for Facebook on my phone, it brings up a message telling me that I don’t have the app and would I like to reinstall it, and it sounds like too much work so I just think, oh well, I’ll look at it later. If it’s important, I do – and if not, no harm done.

3. Make yourself accountable.

Okay, this one might make me sound weird! I tell my boyfriend if I’m going on Facebook to look at a particular profile, and then I tell him when I’m off it. So if a friend of mine has a little baby, I might want to look at her page and see if she’s put pictures up. So I do that… and then I get straight back off!

The danger I had before is that I’d then see one of our other friends tagged in the picture, and then I’d click on their profile, and then I’d click on someone else… and then I was down the rabbit-hole – three hours later, feeling like shit, and not quite sure how I had ended up looking at pictures of an old work colleague’s boyfriend’s mum’s 60th birthday pictures… (Gulp. And feeling weirded out and guilty while I did it! Oh come on, we’ve all been there… or somewhere similar 🙂 Or you might not want to bother with telling someone when you’re on it, but at least make a habit of looking only at the profile you intended to look at.)

4. Get rid of the “friends” who aren’t friends.

We know we can all do this – and a lot of people do. For me, I set myself a limit. I aim to have 120 Facebook friends or less*. There’s something almost freeing about defriending people that you’re not in touch with any more. Haven’t spoken to them for more than a year? Have a mutual friend you could connect through? Do you have their email address? Then unfriend, unfriend, unfriend! 🙂
(* Okay, update: 120 is not working for me… I should stop putting numerical limits on myself!)

5. Wise up to Facebook.

When I deactivated my account, Facebook and the Microsoft account I had linked to it sent me a ton of messages. Along the lines of: “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account? We haven’t seen you on Facebook for a while, are you okay? We can’t get into the Facebook account you linked to this email… you may need to check your login details.” Etc etc.

It made Facebook sound kind of desperate, to be honest! And when I came back on it, I got a barrage of messages saying: “This is what you’ve missed while you were away. These are some notifications you might be interested in. These are people you might want to be friends with on Facebook” (none of whom I knew). Facebook was turning into some kind of whiny ex-boyfriend, desperate to get me back!

So now I read between the lines. Don’t do what it tells you to do, just because it’s sent you an email. Allow yourself just to delete notification emails, rather than falling for the “hook” all the time.

Please note… I’m not attacking Facebook!

Even though it sounds like it. I think Facebook is an awesome and inspirational company. They have pushed boundaries and changed the world with their positive and dynamic thinking. And yes, I know I seem hypocritical (so you use it, but moan about it?!). I’m human, so I give myself the right to do that 😉

I’m just saying that you can take control back. You don’t have to be on it every day… and you can survive just fine without it (if you want) 🙂

Did I miss Facebook?

Not one bit! Did I bug my boyfriend as he had to send messages once or twice from both of us? Yes, a little. But he got over it 🙂 Did I lose friends… or speak to people less… or feel worse for being off it? Not at all! In fact, probably the opposite.

One thing I noticed when I came back on it is that I still feel like shit when I look at some people’s profiles. Maybe that says more about how I feel about myself and where I am with life. Or it could be that only seeing people’s “amazing selves”, having the “time of their lives”, is de-energizing (as well as unrealistic).

So I might go more draconian soon – by stopping myself looking at someone’s profile purely out of curiosity (i.e. nosiness), and only looking at them if I love and care for them dearly, and want to see how they’re doing and keep that contact up.

PS. If you want to connect on Facebook, just send me a friend request.

Just kidding! 🙂

My challenge to you: do you use Facebook more than you want? Does it make you feel crappy when you’re on it sometimes? What’s ONE thing you could do to change this?

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