Originally inspired by a friend who has had a complete social media detox for the past several years; I decided to do without Facebook in February. I have a week to go. February is a good month to do a month-long challenge, especially in a non-leap year. Why 28 days seems eminently more doable than 30 or 31 is a mystery, after all, it’s only two days shorter.
It turns out that I have also more or less given up Instagram as well. I have “allowed” myself a peek at one crafter’s daily-ish embroidery post because I am copying their work. (Full disclosure I let them know, and they were cool with that). YouTube has been restricted to how-to videos. I have been keeping in contact with friends and family via the Facebook Messenger app and I have been posting here. I don’t class this blog as consumptive social media as I am creating the content. A blog post triggers an automatic Facebook post on my Old Chook Enterprises account, so if you’ve seen that, I haven’t been cheating!
Filling in the time.
While it has not been a complete social media freeze, it has been a very sizable reduction in hours spent scrolling with little purpose. I have filled the time with the aforementioned copied embroidery task, craft activities including making some little notebooks and crocheting some reusable dish cloths and going for extra walks after dinner. After dark, I have watched Netflix and read. Netflix is probably not a good replacement in terms of reducing screen time but heh! All in all, I have found it easier than I expected.
My inspiration also came from Catherine’s Price’s new book The Power of Fun. This book delves into the differences between true fun and fake fun. It roundly criticises the “fun” that social media portrays. This sort of fun; comparing ourselves to others, buying stuff we don’t need and generally immersing ourselves in an unconnected world, is no good for us. Catherine suggests we look for experiences that offer us (real) connection, flow and playfulness. Only activities that combine these three fundamentals will be “true fun”.
Catherine asks you to look back on the last time you had REAL fun and examine if these fundamentals (or fun factors) were present. Then she recommends you try to incorporate activities that elicit these same feelings into your life. For me, the last time I remember being in true flow and having a blast was during the bookbinding course I did last year. I was absorbed, I was with other people and I was playing with making stuff. I should look for these sorts of activities to boost my fun meter. By that, I don’t just mean bookbinding courses, but rather broadening it to activities with the same sorts of features. For me, that would be learning a new skill, in a group, to produce something useful.
Reducing phone use in general.
Catherine’s other book How to break up with your phone in 30 days, is also a good easy read and once again offers lots of sensible insights into the insidious nature of phones and how they steal our attention. I know I am overly dependent on my phone. I get palpitations if I leave it at home. This can’t be a good thing. Although it’s not sensible or even possible to return to a completely analogue world on my own, I decided it was time I reduced my dependence on my phone. While I was in reduced social media mode, I deleted a whole bunch of apps I don’t use (or rather don’t really need) and restricted the home screen to twenty apps which I deemed essential. I reasoned that if I could get the information another way or use an analogue version, the app would be relegated to a less accessible screen or deleted entirely. For instance, I hid the Wallet app because I could use my card instead. I moved the Safari and Chrome apps because if I really want to look something up, I can go use my computer instead. The idea was to reduce the number of times I reach for my phone without really thinking about it. There may be some reintroduction of apps I deemed nonessential like the Shopping List app. I originally thought I could just use a bit of paper and write a list, but I left that at home!
Will I go back to Facebook in March? Yes, probably. My friends are spread out around Australia and the world and it’s the best way to keep in contact. My return will come with some caveats which may be difficult for me to control. I’d like to say I will restrict myself to posts from people I actually know. But Mark Zuckerburg has other plans for my time.
These days you have to wade through so many posts from people/companies trying to sell you stuff. Pages and pages! And even then I am not seeing posts from all my friends, only those I am allowed to via Facebook’s algorithms. (Speaking of algorithms, if you haven’t watched Social Dilemma make sure you do!)
Ergghhhhhh! It’s a trap! Perhaps March will be social media free too!