in Storytelling

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” 🙂