On the 1st of February I got a close friend to change my Facebook password. I wanted to have a break from all the fluff that flooded my brain. It was the first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing I mentally consumed at night.
Knowing myself as well as I do, I knew that I’d find (make up) a bunch of (vague, unimportant) reasons to have a peek (which would turn into checking several times a day or an hour) unless I simply had no way of logging in.
I also knew that to successfully change my social media habits I needed to design a way I didn’t completely lose connection from people by exiling myself from a platform 99% of most people I know use regularly. I needed to create limitations that worked for me, and aligned to my goal of reducing distractions and sensory overload.
Here’s how I did it.
- I set email notifications up for messages and event invites, so that I still received personal messages and stayed in the loop on anything anyone still bothers to create as an event on Facebook. I can still access the messages app and talk to people through that app. I am a zero inbox person, I'd hate not to be able to reply to people promptly or be responsive.
- I have a second ‘shadow account’ that I use to access the various business ‘pages’ I am an administrator for, that way I can still post on my professional pages and read the news feeds to stay in the loop with the relevant things happening in the industries and spaces I am interested in (without all the other junk that keeps popping uncontrollably in). I don’t have any friends on this profile, there is nothing to look at – it is simply a way to administer pages from a desktop.
- I stopped caring and being curious about what people posted and made the choice to not need to 'keep up'. How I managed this is whole other blog post, but it starts with a conscious reflection on what we do so often, so mindlessly.
Today I looked at my personal Facebook profile for the first time in 4 weeks.
My initial anticipation quickly turned to a big sense of meh when qu’elle surprise, I realised there wasn’t much to see. After a few 'checks and scrolls' across the arvo as Leo won his Oscar and my mind wandered, remembering that the portal to time suckage was open again, I started to feel antsy and overloaded, bugged by the information and how all the busy-ness clogged up my conscious thoughts long after I put my phone down and turned back to the task at hand.
There was the usual Oscars memes, OK SO ONE FRIEND ACTUALLY WON AN OSCAR SO THAT WAS COOL, people went to Ikea and didn’t die, lots of people with children posted about their children lots, some political points got made etc.
A chunk of stuff I was like ‘yeah already saw that on Instagram’. And no, I didn’t go cold turkey across all social media platforms, that wasn't the point. I enjoy insta much more, it's less grating on my psyche and easier to curate, people tend to be more considered with their posting.
What I realised too was that the way I have organised my email system (using Unroll.me) has been helpful in keeping me up to date with the main news, memes and digital happenings without needing to see it 17 times as all the likeminded friends kindly share the same posts around. I have wrangled in my exposure to information and have more control over when I read what emails.
The multiple login feature which launched on Instagram a few weeks ago has been a big exciting (if not just damn useful!), but Facebook's new emoji based 'reactions' barely managed to get an eye roll out of me, let alone a 'love'.
So I decided to log off again. I decided that logging in once a month is enough. The system I have set-up works for me. I don’t need daily doses of the mental equivalent of fairy floss. Let’s see how March feels.