Why I Deleted my Facebook App
As a single mom, I've really learned to value my time. I want to use my time in a purposeful way either building a relationship with my son or building up my personal life in a meaningful and exciting way.
I realized that the amount of screen time my son had was affecting him in some negative ways and during the process, I realized "geez, I sure do use my phone a lot too."
This was pointed out to me every time he'd request my phone to use Youtube. I would tell him no, he needs to go play, and then ironically go back to gluing myself faithfully back to my phone screen.
The majority of my time was spent scrolling through Facebook.
Now, I'm not anti-Facebook or anti-technology. I have no intention to unplug for the rest of my life and live a tech-free. I love my Facebook (and run quite a bit of my two businesses online and on social media!) and I'm about 80% sure I would die without Pinterest (how in the world did people find recipes before then?) but I had to take a hard look at myself and admit that I was spending way too much time scrolling through the virtual timeline, throwing thumbs up at every puppy video and baby photo I saw.
Just like I cut my son's screen time, I decided to cut back my own screen time too. And this is what I learned!
I didn't have a life, well, not a real one. I had majorly let it slip by. Once I wasn't spending mindless hours swiping up I realized I had nothing to do. I didn't know what to do with myself. Much like my son did the first few days I cut him off from Peppa Pig and Ninja Turtles, I found myself wandering around my apartment tinkering with a few things before wandering to the next thing, completely bored and unengaged.
I had forgotten the hobbies I once loved, lacked the discipline to stick to anything that required effort (like working out or writing), and had let my social life slip and let Facebook likes substitute for real conversations with friends. It was pretty pathetic really. And I had no idea I had even become this way! The blur of working on business and being a single mom had completely shielded me from the fact that I wasn't taking care of my personal life and enjoyment the way I was encouraging others to do! Facebook and my phone were draining the life (and data) out of me.
So I cut back, severely.
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I started by keeping track of exactly how much time I spent on my phone and social media apps using this handy little app called RescueTime. There's the "lite" version which is free and does the basic tracking and monthly updates. If you're super serious about getting your phone time in check, there's a paid version that lays out the works for you with super detailed reports on how you're spending your time. The main benefit of the paid version is the ability to block certain sites and apps during time frames, making you more productive and eliminating the temptation to "quickly check" your twitter feed. This might be a good option if you A: lack self-discipline, B: run a business or work from home or C: have tried cutting back already and didn't succeed (putting your money in it has this amazing way of motivating people!)
The number of hours that I had wasted away in Facebook groups instead of doing something productive or fun was alarming really. I had estimated what I thought I was using and it was nearly double.
Now I was tempted to crawl into a corner of shame but I learned not to be too hard on myself about it. After all, technology and social media are addictive by design.
See, with screen usage, time feels like it's going by a lot slower than it actually is. What you think has only been 15 minutes on Instagram hashtags has actually morphed into an hour easily.
And a fun fact for the day! Social media is also designed to keep you on their platform for as long as possible because that's how they make their money. So while I can't blame Zuckerburg for making his money, the Facebook team and really any social media has certain tactics that quite literally keep your brain craving more. For example, instead of receiving notifications one by one every time someone likes your picture, have you noticed you'll get one or two notifications instead and then when you click on it all the thumbs and hearts come floating up at you at once? That's not just a cute feature, when you see this you brain releases dopamine (the feel-good emotion that’s also linked with addiction) and then says "hey, that was awesome, I'd like some more of that" and then you end up going back, and nope, you won't realize that's what you're doing.
After getting a grip on how much time I was spending I cleared the clutter on my phone. Since Facebook was the biggest distraction, I got rid of the app completely (and only kept the page manager for my business). I originally had tried just "hiding" the Facebook app in a folder off my home screen but the two extra swipes did little to deter me from staying off the app, so off it went! I also removed the majority of my apps off of my home screen and replaced it with a motivational "Stay focused" quote instead.
I then got rid of other apps that wasted time and put my phone on "Do not disturb" (a little tip I got from ironically, a Facebook guru Courtney Foster Donahue; she's the bee's knees btw). With my phone now on "Do Not Disturb" I was far less tempted to check it every 10 minutes or get distracted by every little ding, ring, and chime.
At first, I was nervous that I'd miss important calls but A: Do Not Disturb lets you make a special list of both Android and iPhone that lets certain contacts bypass the block. So my phone will still ring if my mom or someone else from my family calls or my son’s father. You can create a special list of people and allow that list to bypass the block. And B: It also had a feature that lets calls bypass if they call multiple times within 15 minutes. So say if my friend was trying to desperately reach me, if she called/texted multiple times within 15 minutes, my phone would notify me. And as it turns out, I wasn't missing any other calls that were important anyway.
And lastly, I started rebuilding my personal life. I reached out to old friends, started writing daily again and signed up to the NaNoWriMo Challenge, started looking into meet up groups, getting out of the house, and exploring new hobbies (photography sounds cool!) and more.
Overall, while the initial boot from Facebook felt like whiplash, it was probably one of the best things I could have done!