I left Facebook for a year. This is what I’ve learned.

Door to leaving Facebook

First of all, I love the internet and social media. I’m fascinated by how it has changed our society. The medium that allows people to interact with each other on a distance of several thousand kilometers in a matter of milliseconds is just mind blowing, and the software that enables us to keep in touch with a global network of thousands of “friends” instantly has already become part of our everyday lives, which is fantastic.

In November last year however I decided to take a timeout from Facebook. I wasn’t sure for how long it was going to be, but I felt it was worth a try. There was a life before Facebook, so there also had to be a life after it.

Why did I take this decision?

In the first place, it was some numbers that convinced me. I had installed a clever piece of software a few months before that was tracking precisely which websites I was spending most of my time on. Not to my surprise, Facebook was ranking no.1, accounting for around 15-25 hours each month.

Second, I found that I had come to a point where I was mainly consuming information from others, and being part of a daily public online diary where you had to diligently take care of your profile. Getting up in the morning and hitting F + <Enter> to see what’s going on in the world had become a natural habit. I think people can relate with me when I say: Every thing I thought about, I also thought how I could fit that into a post that lots of people would like.

Third, I wanted to see if I could persevere, or if Facebook had become such an important part of my life that I wouldn’t withstand the temptation of going back at one point, especially because I had seen other people disabling their accounts, only to see them come back a few days or weeks after.

What have I learned?

Just as with mainstream media, I don’t think that we really need to be up to date with everything that’s going on in the world, especially if this information is made up of random people’s personal drama. I used to spend staring at the screen scrolling to infinity, and I am now trying to dedicate this time to focus on my own endeavors. As an example, I replaced the morning stalk to dedicate 15 minutes each morning to writing on this blog, and it enables me to come up with 2-3 new blog posts each month.

There is not a thing that I feel I have seriously been missing during that year. Certainly, I had to be reminded of one or the other party or dinner invitation when people realized I wasn’t on Facebook anymore. But I think that not being tempted to instantly jump into every conversation or live chat has also been a big time saver. As a matter of fact, human brains are prone to distractions. Facebook’s notification counter Facebook tab title notification counter in the tab title has become the most persistent distractive thing I have seen since the invention of the internet.

Figuring out what I was subconsciously spending my time on helped me realize that Facebook was topping my list of daily time suckers. If a habit is not supportive of what you want to do with your life, then it’s time to question that, and eventually start acting on it. If you don’t want to make that sacrifice: OK, but don’t start complaining how stressed out you are and how little time you have. Been there, done that.

Wrapping up

By no means do I want to recommend everyone to quit Facebook today. It has become part of our daily communication, and I’m aware of its importance for people’s business.

Leaving Facebook was a good decision for myself because I was wasting too much time with it. Since everyone has different interests and ideals though, it would be narrow-minded to rant against it.

What’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned? To start consciously looking at what you’re spending your time on, and to figure out what’s most important for you. Then identify your priorities, and make the necessary sacrifices.

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