5 Powerful Lessons I Learned From A Facebook Fast

Some time ago I decided to go cold turkey and give up Facebook for a month and half. This decision was largely a result of reading Glen’s personal challenge post over at PluginID. Yes I’m a thief 😉

Being the typical college student, (or rather any one of the  80 million users of Facebook), I found that I spent a great deal of time on the social networking platform: usually chatting with friends, keeping in touch with relatives, or finding reasons not to do work or study.

Having become attached to Facebook over the past few years, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to go on a Facebook fast. To make sure I succeeded in my own personal challenge, I had a good buddy of mine change my password so I was not able to cheat. I know.. it’s pretty depressing I had to go to those lengths, however I was fully committed to pulling it off. I began my Facebook fast late September and ended it on November 1st.

For such a  a simple “experiment” I did have my share of insights as a result. Here are some of the things I learned.

Time wasters are everywhere:

In an increasingly electronic world, there is an abundance of time wasters everywhere. Things such as online games, movies, and television consume vast amounts of our time. It doesn’t matter which form you pursue there will will always be something that can keep you “entertained” for hours on end. Having no access to Facebook, I unfortunately  still found my free time shifting to other mindless activities.

In this day and age we are constantly challenged to remain focused on the task at hand, which I admit is not easy. While giving up Facebook did increase my productivity in some regards, I still found myself wasting a fair amount of time on meaningless tasks. With Facebook gone, I spent a lot of time playing computer games with some of my friends on my dorm floor.

Clearly I need to continue to develop my self control as there will continue to be distractions that I must stay clear from. The Facebook fast did wonders for my awareness on this issue.

We are social creatures:

One of the reasons Facebook is so “addicting” is because it partly satisfies our need to be social. As human beings, we are inherently social creatures and Facebook helps relieve this desire. With millions online at any given time Facebook offers an effortless way to connect with someone in an instant.

While Facebook is undoubtedly a useful tool at keeping in touch and maintaining a solid connection, many often choose to go overboard. It is imperative that our desire to be social be met with a mature blend of self restraint.

Looking back it’s almost pathetic at how attached I’ve become to Facebook and social media in general. At the same time I feel social networking is immensely valuable as well. Finding the middle ground is something that we must all do.

Social media can be addicting:

Put simply.. social networking can be addicting, and should not be taken lightly.  Online relationships are in no way shape or form a supplement for real life experience. A fair amount of individuals confuse their online life with their real one, which unfortunately hinders their ability to truly connect.

Social media gives an immense amount of power which can often get to our heads. Never before have we had the ability to connect with so many people so easily. Online social media is only the beginning. Authentic relationships must extend into a physical form.

While I have made my fair share of relationships through an online medium, I much prefer a real life connection. It is important that we remind ourselves that social media is only one way to connect not the only way to connect. Taking time off Facebook gave me some much needed perspective on the issue.

The real world is nice:

While I do gain pleasure connecting with people through an online medium, nothing beats real life experience. While this statement appears to be common sense, I cannot tell you how many people fail to live this one out.

Without Facebook I didn’t have a crutch to initiate relationships, so I found myself to be a bit more outgoing. Instead of simply adding a person I knew on Facebook, I had to go and talk face to face. Rather than sitting in my room connecting online, I found myself more and more involved with people in real life. This is something I could get used to 🙂

Because we often get caught up in our online reality,
we often forget how magnificent the real world really is.

If you’re important people will find a way to reach you:

One of the more pleasant surprises of giving up Facebook was I was still able to maintain my most prized relationships for the most part. While there were a few that suffered due to living in different countries, I definitely  kept in contact with people that meant the most to me.

This just reassured to me that idea of if you are important to someone you will be able to keep in contact, regardless of the medium. While Facebook certainly makes contact easier at times , there are  plenty of other ways to connect as well.

I normally don’t talk on the phone very much but my phone usage was way up this past month.

Self control:

What habits have you become a slave to? Could you give up Facebook or Twitter for a month? Far too many people let their daily habits control them rather than the other way around. It only takes some conscious effort to realize that we are in complete control of our lives.

I invite you to challenge yourself in some area of your life. 🙂 I know giving up Facebook was a great lesson for me and I’d happily do it again.. in a year or so 😉

P.S If you happen to use Mac I highly recommend  the free application called ” Self Control” 🙂

20 Comments

  • Great post! I had planned on writing about my facebook experience too 🙂

    I have been facebook free for two months and now plan to keep it that way.
    The amount of productivity you gain is unbelievable, and what has amazed me was the fact that you don’t really miss anything important. As you said, if its something important, people will find a way to reach you.

    Instead of socializing over the computer, I have started to either call people, or make arrangements to see them in person, which surprisingly is actually less time consuming, but the gain is much greater.

    Loved the post,
    Dean

  • Wow, that’s funny. I just left Facebook and found myself doing the same thing. I was trapped in the time wasters. Good points.

  • First I used to be AIM-obsessed, then I used to be Facebook-obsessed. With the updates in technology, and new mediums of social media, it’s hard to not become addicted to “what’s new” or “be in the loop”.

    However, like you said, I realized how much of my time I was wasting in looking into other people’s personal lives. Not only is it mentally unhealthy, but something that takes 5 minutes can lead up to wasting 1 hour. Nowadays, I barely go on and check my Facebook and it feels like I’ve been set free to get a lot more things done.

  • I’m glad you found yourself able to live without facebook. I check facebook maybe once a day just to see what everyone is up to. For a long time, I didn’t invite any friends, I just used it as an experiment to see who would invite me. Then, when I was laid off in July, I began to rapidly add friends so that I could work my network for potential job leads. For me it became more of a tool in my job search arsenal than a social distraction. Now that I have a larger friends list, I also use it to promote my blog posts, and it’s working well for that.

  • My mom said, when they were on my age, they were going out and meet with their friends, talk to them for hours, in person. But now, she said to me that all they did were turned into a virtual connection. Now, I go out of my room, turn on the PC, and connect with my friends via Facebook (or any other social networking platforms) and not in person. Indeed, world is changing, but the real world will always be better. 🙂

  • Hi, Bud –

    Great job of being self-aware! It’s like turning a massive ship . . . it takes a very small shift in the steering mechanism to turn the ship to a new direction!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  • I did this too! I gave up Facebook as an ongoing “practice” on October 25. Yesterday I went back for the first time since.

    I did a quick feed scan and gave a FB friend props for her successful enterprise launch this week. Then I posted a quick update, just so a few friends there didn’t wonder if I’d been swallowed up whole by the earth. (I live in the volcanic part of Hawaii.)

    All told, I was gone in under fifteen minutes. I plan to do this every couple of weeks.

    To answer Jonny’s question above: No, actually, I do not think that I am important, but I do believe that the choices I make are. What I do helps determine the quality of life for everyone on this planet, and for everything we share it with. What an awesome responsibility.

    –Bill (www.LitBoy.com)

  • For me the purpose of social media is to make connections with the hope that, at some point, we will meet in person. But it’s easy for platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to be all consuming, as they allow us to make so many connections that we can’t keep up with them. It’s actually nice to take a break, and have coffee with a friend!

  • Hey buddy, I got to agree that Facebook took away some part of our life in mingling with “real friends”. We spend too much time on Facebook making friends which some we may never ever see in real life and forgot about the “real” friends around us. On top of that, I got to agree with you Facebook is addictive and it does takes up a huge chunk of time in our life.

    Cheers,
    Vincent

  • I know this is off topic, but I just wanted to tell you that I like the design of your sight. It’s so clean and simple. The clouds are a nice touch and they fit the theme of your sight well. The sky’s the limit.

  • What up Bud! Yea I remember going on a facebook fast about a year ago and wow was it really difficult. I’ve been trying really hard to prioritize and going to make it so i only do email/facebook stuff about twice a day, which is an idea I got from the 4 Hour Workweek.

    Thanks for the insights !

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