Do you find your way over to Facebook to play the classic games of Candy Crush or Farmville? Or maybe you enjoy scrolling down your ex’s profile to see the photos of the new girl. For one reason or another, Facebook gets you to come back often. Maybe the likes, shares, comments and everything associated with Facebook seem to drag you away from what’s really in front of you, like the sunny spring skies or your Organic Chemistry final. Why not give your eyes a break and get off Facebook for a bit?
I decided to get off Facebook this week. It felt like I fell off the Earth.
Over the course of the week, I became more actively engaged in all of my classes. I worked out (more) every day and focused on “bettering” myself as a whole. Without Facebook around to distract me, I became more engaged in conversations with others. I even leisurely read and didn’t feel the need to take out my phone while out with friends. I actually lived in the present rather than longing to check my newsfeed.
When I returned to Facebook a week later, I realized I forgot one of my good friend’s 21st birthday parties. How could I forget such an important event? I saw she invited everyone on Facebook and even created an event page. I felt disappointed with myself that I did not attend my friend’s super dope celebration. But, another question hit me: Has Facebook dominated over all other forms of communication, like texting and calling? Was I truly the culprit for not knowing an event was going on because I decided to get off Facebook?
Aside from the missed birthday, I also realized that people communicated with me over likes, shares and comments while I was away from Facebook. Although I only strayed away from Facebook (not Instagram, Twitter, etc.), it honestly felt like I strayed away from all forms of communication. Old friends tagging me in posts, new friends sharing photos on my wall…it seemed that people forgot they could call or text me whenever they wanted instead of solely communicating on one social media platform.
While I scrolled down my Facebook newsfeed after my week-long fast, annoying political rants, novel-length posts and photo bundles consumed my screen. I immediately became bored, clicked that Log-Off button and decided to ditch Facebook.
As exciting as it seems to read a post about a friend’s chapter-long summary of why they chose to travel abroad, I found it unappealing. I realized how much more I preferred my friends to send me a post or photos privately so we could communicate one-on-one instead of posting for over 1000+ people to see. Ultimately, I realized that Facebook is more about wanting to be seen than actually communicating.
Facebook is like a clingy boyfriend…
Straying away from Facebook creates a feeling of missing out on something, like the newest episode of the Walking Dead. Along with event pages and constant notifications, we feel that Facebook keeps us in the look 24/7.
But does the feeling of missing out derive only from Facebook?
“This is broader than Facebook and it’s actually broader than social media. The idea that we need to see and be seen in order to exist is a result of the increased media-tization of our social lives that started so far back as the introduction of the television into the living room,” said Warren S. Allen, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Florida State University’s School of Information.
So maybe Facebook isn’t the culprit. We should blame ourselves. We, as people living in the age of television and media, continuously crave recognition from others.
The idea of ignoring Facebook all together can be extremely difficult. “We sometimes forget that social media are designed to command our attention. Just think about all of the alerts you get from Facebook, unless you turn them off. Facebook tells you when someone likes your posts, when you have a friend request, when you get a comment and when a message waits for you. These alerts are designed to pull your attention to social media and engage you,” said Deana A. Rohlinger, Ph.D., FSU professor of sociology. Facebook can be hard to ignore for its constant notifications dragging you back in multiple times a day, even when you try to stay away.
But like a clingy boyfriend, Facebook can stress you out as well. “Social scientists have found that social media creates stress, particularly for young people, and that it makes it virtually impossible to be in the moment,” said Dr. Rohlinger.
Facebook stresses you about unneeded worries regarding self-perception from likes, comments and shares. “It’s a lot about self affirmation…like the more likes you get, the more important you feel,” said Ryan.
Ways to Avoid Facebook
Should you get off Facebook for a bit (or forever)? “Young or old, if you cannot put Facebook down for a meaningful amount of time then you should reflect on the role it plays in your life. I believe the ability to be alone with your thoughts, to sit in silence, and to reflect are important developmental achievements,” said Dr. Allen.
The temptation to share Buzzfeed articles or Kermit the Frog Memes among your friends on Facebook can jeopardize your growth. Rather, allotting time to yourself than to Facebook will let you make smarter decisions, like working out or studying.
“You should consider the question of how to make Facebook ‘avoid’ you,” said Dr. Allen. Creating a busy schedule for yourself truly eliminates the free time you have to scroll endlessly down your Facebook page. Planning events to attend like concerts or comedy shows, working out (without your phone) and spending time with others will eliminate that gnawing feeling of “missing out.”
“As individuals, we have to find ways to make sure that new technology and social media don’t dominate our lives. There are simple things you can do that work well. For example, have a social media and text free hour. Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and work out or read instead of obsessively checking Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s hard at first, but you just might find that it ends up being your favorite hour of the day,” said Dr. Rohlinger.
You have the power to choose when you want to head over to Facebook or not. Don’t let Facebook dictate you. Dictate Facebook.