In early 2017, I embarked on an experiment to answer a simple question: what would life be like without my Facebook newsfeed?
This all started because I was amazed at the minutes (and sometimes hours) of my day that slipped away once I started scrolling through everyone’s stories and photos. I didn’t expect that I’d end up shunning my newsfeed entirely, but after a week or so of newsfeed deprivation, I realized that this method of cutting back on social media left me feeling awesome! My mind was less cluttered, I became more productive in my free time and I was able to cut down on my awful habit of comparing myself to others–something that’s hard to avoid in a world where we often showcase the good in our lives while cloaking the bad from public view.
In the back of my mind a strange guilt nagged at me for several weeks after this experiment began. Whose birthday posts had I missed? Whose baby announcements went without a sincere “congratulations!” from me? Whose job switches, cross country moves and marriage announcements had I failed to acknowledge? After all, I hadn’t started along this path because I didn’t want to see posts from my friends. I loved seeing what everyone was up to, and I didn’t want to seem uninvolved or uncaring–being productive and avoiding the “mind mush” that seemed to ensue every time I opened my Facebook app was my primary motivation.
Amidst the slight guilt I felt about missing out on the highlights of people’s lives, I wondered how many petty political arguments and annoying sponsored posts I’d dodged by keeping my distance. As far as my friends went, wouldn’t they appreciate a text or a PM from me more than a thumbs up on their posts? I thought about the benefits I’d reaped by re-deploying my social media viewing time. Suddenly, the dishes were getting done right after I ate. I was exercising three times a week. I was even hanging out with friends–in person! And I had time to focus on new hobbies. Those realizations alone converted my lack of newsfeed viewing from a little experiment into an ongoing habit.
Another observation I had from my experiment is that I posted less on Facebook in 2017. To be fair, 2017 wasn’t nearly as visually stimulating as 2016 and 2015, when my gap year trip was in full swing. While 2017 was still packed with adventures and new opportunities, many of my days involved going to work, chilling at home and fighting off morning sickness. When I went on fun trips or accomplished something exciting, I felt a new satisfaction in keeping most of the news to myself.
In the last week I asked myself: what are my social media plans for 2018? Moving forward, I’ll continue to avoid looking at my newsfeed but I certainly won’t abandon Facebook. I LOVE spending time in Facebook groups (which can be just as addicting as newsfeed scrolling, in case anyone was wondering)! I like exchanging messages with friends, looking at upcoming events in my area and perusing the marketplace for steals and deals. From time to time I’ll check in on (AKA stalk!) my friends to make sure I haven’t missed anything super important 😉 About 4 months ago I adopted the same non-newsfeed-viewing habit with Instagram, and I’ll continue to stick with that, as well.
Overall, I love the clarity and peace I’ve gained from altering my social media habits. Here’s to a newsfeed-free 2018!
Are you changing your social media habits at all in 2018?