I’ve read some of the studies and I’ve lived it as proof: “Facebook use ‘makes people feel worse about themselves'”! A study by Salary.com found that Facebook is “one of the top reasons people are mentally checked out during the workday. Facebook. I was there in the beginning when it was only open to college kids. I remember sitting at my best friend’s house as she showed me this look-book of her fellow classmates at Cornell. It was great. You flirted with a hot guy at a frat party and then forget his name. Hello, Facebook. It was pretty exciting when a few months later, my college too, was welcomed to join the “book.” A year or two later, everyone was on Facebook and now, you could see more than a profile, you could see all of their photos online–at the time it seemed so invasive, showing your personal photos to all your “friends” but soon, we became accustomed to it and seeing people at parties, at weddings, often just a close-up of their face (thanks selfies)… that’s now our norm.
Since Facebook moved past colleges and allowed anyone and everyone to join, we are all playing real fast and loose with the term “friend.” I’ve gotten pretty fed up with Facebook lately; people I have never met, contacting me and asking me out (re: mole man). A bizarre actor we cast to play “Creepy Guy” (he nailed it) on my last job, emails me asking why I still haven’t accepted his friend request. Girls that I would never recognize if I literally walked into them are bombarding my feed with their engagement rings and Paris vacation photos. I was feeling good until I saw Rando Girl #1 in Paris with her 5 carat rock and good looking fiancé and then all of a sudden, I’m thinking, I want a ring. I want to go to Paris. Is that jealously I feel? Aw shit, I hate this feeling!
I have been off from work for about a month now and the productive days I assumed I’d have, writing non-stop, were being peppered with frequent visits to Facebook. So, I challenged myself. Because when I state that I’m going to do something, this time being “I’m going to stay off of Facebook for one week,” I’ll stick to it. And here is what I found.
The first thing I do upon waking up nearly every morning is I grab my phone off my night table. I then do a quick email perusal to see if any of them are from actual people. Then, I click on Facebook and waste time looking through my news feed. Then I go to Instagram. But then, the really weird part is, I find myself clicking back on Facebook, as if I’ve forgotten I was just there five minutes prior. And then maybe, depending on if I have to get up or not, back to Instagram. And so on. Immediately, Facebook is in my face before a toothbrush is even in my mouth. Not good. So, I did what I had to do and deleted the Facebook app off of my phone.
Deleting the app helped although like a fantom limb, I felt like it was still there for a few days. I found myself in line at the mall or while sitting on the toilet (truth) scrolling looking for it and then having that realization that I was acting on impulse. I knew the app wasn’t there but it didn’t stop me from looking for it.
Then on my laptop, as I sat down for breakfast my first day of the detox, I had to restrain myself from typing in the URL. I actually pulled a window up and started to type. Like a Facebook possessed woman! At a coffee shop while writing, in a moment of complete forgetfulness, I did try to pull up Facebook but as if someone up above was looking out for me, I got an error message that the page wasn’t loading. An error, indeed!
Throughout the week the urge to search came often. A few times however, it would have served useful. I am always in fear of missing a good friend’s birthday. In fact, one of my best friends is not on Facebook and I am embarrassed to say that not once, but twice, I missed her birthday! Facebook birthdays are now equivalent to people’s phone numbers; I depend on Facebook to tell me my friend’s birthdays the way I depend on my phone contacts to dial a friend’s number.
I also decided to dive back into the “exciting” world of dating this week and again, it was difficult not to do a full Facebook stalk prior to meeting my dates. However, I’m pretty judgmental to begin with (I own it), so it’s probably best for everyone involved if I don’t walk into the date with preconceived notions. And, I found it more interesting to ask a question such as “Where are you from?” or “What school did you go to?” when I actually didn’t already know the answer.
I can get easily distracted while I’m writing so eliminating Facebook usage this week was a big help. Even if I stared blankly at the screen, at least my mind was still on the script I was writing, not diverted to wondering if some girl I went to high school with had her baby yet (why do I care?!).
Here is what I’ve realized this week off. Facebook is like a knife. You can use it to do good, by using it to create a delicious meal, chopping fresh vegetables and herbs. Or, you can use it on autopilot, and end up stabbing yourself in the hand. I want to share the articles and blog posts that I write, such as this one, and Facebook is a good outlet to do so. When I post this article on Facebook, it will be my first time back on in over a week. However, I’m logging on with a plan of attack:
Step 1: Post this blog.
Step 2: Check my messages and only respond if they are from someone that I want to be messaging with.
Step 3: See if I have any upcoming event invitations (and unsubscribe from those annoying people who send me events that I would never go to).
Step 4: Close the webpage and go live my life, off-line.
I’d love to say my addiction is cured, but I know myself and I know ingrained habits are had to break. So if I once again get sucked back in, I’ll do another detox. But, I hope that when I now log on to Facebook, it will be with a purpose in mind. I’ll have a game plan laid out of what I need to accomplish there, which will allow me to go on and get off quickly. And, with all that time gained, I’ll be off living my own life, not focusing on other’s.