I quietly decided to dump Facebook for the month of January. I wanted to see if and how my habits and routines changed, and I felt like I was getting dumber every time I scrolled through my feed and saw either ads, more ads, dumb videos people had shared, boring status updates, and more ads.
So on January 2 (rebellious Aquarius never starts anything on January 1 when everyone else is doing it!) I just stopped. My original intent was to delete the app from my phone, but I have to log in via my personal account for work purposes sometimes, and I just finished a magazine project with a great team (more on that in my next post), and I knew we would be sharing and posting during the launch, and I didn’t want to be AWOL during our big moment. So instead I just decided that I wouldn’t mindlessly scroll through the timeline, I wouldn’t like posts, and I wouldn’t post anything.
It was surprisingly easy. I did notice how often I reached for my phone just to mindlessly scroll, and had to stop myself. Sometimes when I logged in, the top story or post was so interesting I wanted to comment, and had to stop myself. This actually forced me to think, what is the value you’re adding here by posting this? Of course, by keeping to my commitment, I didn’t post comments, but I was also surprised at some of the comments I was going to post, and realizing how little value or little thought went into them. Posting a comment is like a knee-jerk reaction. It doesn’t always add value. (Does it have to every time? Probably not, but taking the time to think about what you’re saying before saying it, especially online, is a sadly lacking skill these days, would you agree?)
Ok, full disclosure, I actually did forget one time, because my friend Berg had PVR’ed the Bills’ playoff game and had posted that he was about to watch it and didn’t want any spoilers. Knowing the Bills had suffered a pretty solid beating, I couldn’t help but comment, “Enjoy the game!” When I realized what I’d done, I briefly thought about deleting it, but I didn’t and decided to carry on with my Facebook embargo.
Within the first week I discovered one of my main issues with Facebook: I follow too much junk. Too many businesses, too many stupid meme pages, too many news outlets. I realized if I cut down on the clutter, I would see more of what I want to see, which is interesting and relevant news, and discussion and sharing with people I know and care about.
Then as we headed into the second week of my embargo, Facebook itself made an interesting announcement: they were changing the algorithm to make it so users see more content from their friends and family and less from marketers. And Zuckerberg was willing to take a loss to do it (and did, by 4.4%). This was exciting news, and I couldn’t wait until month end so I could see how my newsfeed would change. I also decided I would “slash and burn” my list of pages I follow, and start unfollowing friends I didn’t want to see stuff from in my timeline.
Now I’m rounding the corner on week 2 and headed to week 3. I’m noticing I’m searching out my news elsewhere. I usually listen to CBC Radio’s Early Edition in the morning while I get ready, but I have the National Post app on my phone and I look at that for news, or I ask my Google Home, Maxine, “what’s the news,” and she plays me the recorded news from the previous hour for news outlets I’ve chosen (CBC, Global, National Post, and BBC News.)
There’s still a good two weeks to go. I’m sensing February is going to bring a decluttering of my online life, which is fortunate, because I signed up for a Decluttering Challenge in February that includes this very thing!
Dumping social media altogether isn’t necessary. Make it work for you, make it what you want and what you enjoy. Clear the clutter!
Are you planning to change how you use social media? What do you like about it and what do you not like?