I had never been very active on social media and had started using it zealously only because my work demanded it. It was my succour when I wanted to connect with new authors, promote my articles, share details about events I was organising, stay tuned about other events wellness etc. But, a few months ago, I realised that logging on to Facebook was no longer a choice. Unbeknownst to me, it had become compulsive; I was logging on to Facebook even when I had no reason to. There were, in fact, other important things that awaited my attention but here I was, wasting time on Facebook.
Sometimes I would be reading something or even eating a meal while my left hand would automatically reach my phone, the FB app would be opened and I would mindlessly start scrolling my timeline.
Time to wake up
I didn’t like this automatic behaviour in me. It had become one of those things you know are not good for you, yet you can’t stop yourself from doing it. Quite simple, it was an addiction. I’m sure you are familiar with that feeling and will agree it’s a miserable one.
So in December 2016, a few days before Christmas, I decided to take a break from Facebook. I didn’t give myself any deadline, such as 30 days or 100 days, but thought I’d take it one day at a time. Fortunately, I was able to stick with this commitment and it helped me in many ways. Here are a few ways going off Facebook helped me:
- I had more time, and why not? I was not frittering it away on Facebook! Only when I disconnected did I actually realise how much more time and mental space you have at your disposal when you are not constantly on social media. I had more time to do yoga, meditate, work, sleep, go for walks, cook…
- My reading doubled. Within the first month of being away from Facebook, I read three books. This was in addition to the other content I watched and read during this time. What happens on Facebook is that you often end up reading articles or watching videos that are pointless. Like the stuff you receive on WhatsApp. The headline will usually have catch phrases like ‘must watch’, and you feel obliged to click. Or, you switch on your laptop or pick your phone with a purpose, see something else that takes your attention and soon you’ve forgotten your original objective and are caught in the web of content that actually has no value to add to your life [and often is not even entertaining].
- I was less distracted and more focussed. When you are not feeding yourself with gossip [yes, that’s what Facebook actually is] about events from another person’s life or what has happened in another country or city, you have more time and energy to focus on what really matters.
- Rather than posting a wish on their timeline or sending a private message on Facebook, I started calling my friends more often, especially on their birthdays/anniversaries. They were pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call and on some occasions we even met in person! So much better than playing the virtual friendship game.
- No more Facebook window shopping. Yes, that’s a real thing! As if shopping apps weren’t enough time-wasters. Of the many groups that I am a part of on Facebook, a lot of them are dedicated to selling stuff—all kinds of stuff. Women (it’s mostly us) share tons of pictures and offer tempting discounts on products. You save a bit if you find a good deal on a product, but if you compare the value in terms of your lost time, I’d say it’s not worth it.
- I was less exposed to negativity. Off late I was seeing a lot of vile remarks, hostility and bullying on Facebook… especially when it came to current politics and social issues. Even though I was not participating in the discussions, I found myself reading most of what was said, which was creating unnecessary dissonance and heartburn in me. Switching off from Facebook gave me a break from all the gloom.
Does this mean I am never going to log in to my Facebook account again? Of course not! In fact, I already did. But I only do so when I need to use it for work and then I’m off. Facebook has its many advantages, but you have to be sure that you are using it and it’s not the other way round. If you find yourself getting addicted to Facebook the way I was, then you too should try the same. Stop blaming Facebook and just take a clean break. You won’t miss much; but you’ll gain a lot.
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