2020. Wow. What a year so far. I do not need to get into a lot of details, because you all have lived it too.
Generally, I like to think I am a calm, stable, clear headed person. However, if I am being completely honest, the first half of 2020 has really worn on me mentally. A few days ago, I realized I needed to make some changes for my own good. I hope to post about several of those in the next few weeks.
The first of these is that I’ve decided to back way off Facebook. I will never forget the moment it happened. I was sitting at my desk. I looked at Facebook on my phone and I saw yet another absurd, clearly false thing someone had posted. I closed the app, leaned back in my desk chair, and said to myself “Why am I doing this?”
I decided then and there to take a break. I posted a short message letting people know I was going to be off Facebook for a while. I deleted the app from my phone. I changed my Facebook password to a random long string of characters to make it a pain for me to log back on if I was tempted. I printed that out, stored it and logged off. I have not been back on since.
Over the years, I have really enjoyed Facebook. I think generally it is a great tool. It has enabled me to keep up with friends and family who I would otherwise not really be able to keep up with. However, as time has gone on in my life somehow my Facebook use morphed into something that I was spending WAY too much time on.
According to the Screen Time tool on my iPhone, for the last couple of weeks before I quit, I was spending 2-4 hours per week on Social Networking. Initially, that does not sound like much. However, if you split that time up into a bunch of tiny bite sized chunks that means I was checking it a lot.
Wake up…lay in bed and check Facebook.
Stop at a stop light…pull out phone…check Facebook.
Waiting on some long running computer process to run…check Facebook.
Sitting in a group and the conversation gets boring and the group is large enough to get away with it…check Facebook.
Watch TV…check Facebook.
Go to bed…check Facebook.
Writing that and reading it…it just sounds so totally absurd. I cannot believe I let it get to that point, but I did.
Take that level of Facebook use and combine it with the events of the first half of 2020. Then take that raging dumpster fire and multiply it by the level of division in our society. What I personally ended up with was a stream of partially toxic information that was constantly burning CPU cycles in my brain throughout my day. For me it got to the point where I would say it was not healthy. Unfortunately, there was a lot of good stuff mixed in too that stream that I do honestly miss. However, the only way to escape the bad parts was to walk away from that good stuff too. So, I did.
Once I quit, my brain did some strange stuff that I think ultimately confirmed that doing this was the right thing for me to do. The first day, I found myself multiple times pulling my phone out of my pocket, going to open the Facebook app and realizing it was gone. Oops. On the second day, standing in front of the Microwave waiting on something, I pulled out my phone, opened my browser and typed www.facebook.com into the browser. When I hit the login page, I realized what I had done. I am no Neuroscientist, but those actions can’t be signs of a healthy use pattern.
Will I ever use Facebook again? Yes, absolutely. However, at this point, I think I am going to stay totally off until at least August 1st 2020. When I start to use it again, I will start slow and strictly limit my use. Perhaps I will check it once a day in the evening, after my important work is done. At this point, I cannot imagine ever putting the app back on my phone.
This is one of several changes I am working to make in what I am calling 2020 – Part 2. I look forward to writing about a few of the others in the next few weeks. What about you? What are you doing differently to deal with the unique challenges this year has brought us?