I have been on a social media, or more specifically a Facebook, ‘vacation’ since mid December. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a big deal. I am a bone fide Facebook-aholic. I even had many friends assume I had blocked them as they just couldn’t believe that I would be “the type of person to leave Facebook” (Note to self: Does that mean I’m more the type of person to block a friend… hmm…. food for thought).
For one reason or another, I decided I needed a break from Facebook and this is what I found…
Despite my long-term habit of checking Facebook, I don’t miss it like I thought I would! In fact, 99% of the time I have found it quite pleasant not having to check the site to ‘catch up’. It has also been nice not to have reason to get frustrated at myself when my quick ’30 second check on Facebook’ is still ongoing some 15 minutes later..
I have also enjoyed the silence from the constant Facebook notifications, which be honest, 90% of the time are not something worth disrupting your day over! Your ex-employer’s girlfriend’s sister has invited you (and the rest of her 1000 Facebook ‘friends’) to her cat’s baby shower… Whoopee! I bet you’re so glad you stopped what you were doing to respond to that notification?
In fact, that is perhaps one of the main things I have realised. In the 3 weeks I have been away from Facebook, the world has not ended and believe it or not, I don’t seem to haven’t missed anything particularly exciting! Who would have thought, the world did not end the moment I stepped away from the screen.
Baring in mind that my main frustration with Facebook is the distraction it causes during the working day and the ease of rationalising procrastination under the basis of ‘checking in with friends’, it may seem odd that I decided to take a break during my Christmas vacation time. However, I have still found my Facebook break to be highly beneficial. Although I realised that Facebook is distracting during the work day, I did not realise the impact that it has on my free time too. Facebook is the ultimate time waster. You do not realise how every quick “5 minute browse” eats into your day. For example, making you run 5 minutes late for that event you had planned.
Since taking a break I have been amazed at how much extra free time I seem to have. I have more time to get ready to go out, more time to read, more time to decide to contact a friend to arrange to meet up later in the week, more time to just relax. In today’s busy world, although we recognise that time is precious, we do not always realise just how much seemingly ‘little’ things such as checking Facebook can eat into our day.
This break has been refreshing and eye-opening. If someone who researches social media can STILL be surprised by just how much difference a social media break makes to their daily life, I’m sure the majority of users would be amazed too. Why not try it?
I started by thinking I would take a week out. So far I am approximately 3 weeks into my ‘Facebook vacation’ and I am still enjoying the break and reaping the benefits. Although I do not intend to stay away from Facebook forever, I do intend to seriously limit my use of the site and try my best not to fall into my old ways of checking the site when I get a free minute. Instead I may allocate a maximum of 10 minutes per day to checking Facebook, if I so desire. And the rest of my free time I will spend doing more constructive things such as connecting with friends in the offline world or simply reading a good book and getting away from the virtual world that we already spend so much time in. Although Facebook has its benefits, and I do remain a fan, I feel that it has become too much of a way of life, or a daily habit, for many of us. Sometimes even without realising it, we feed our desire to interact with friends by engaging in online interaction, and thus fail to make time for ‘real life’ interaction in the offline world. Social media is fun but everything should be in moderation and sometimes it is easy to get our priorities out of balance. Social media should be an enhancement of our offline lives, not a replacement.
Perhaps it’s time to sit back, reflect on what’s important and rein in the time we spend in the online world in order to be more present in the offline one.