I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook (FB). The website occupies a larger space in my life than I really want, but somehow, I can find it in me to quit. How else will I instantly keep up with my all friends and family simultaneously—who’s getting married, who’s having babies, who’s graduating or achieving some other life milestone? Where else will I get to see vacation photos, baby/kid photos, everyday snapshots, and the like? FB also helps me know what going on with all my favorite restaurants, companies, and amusements for the kids (hey, there’s a show at the Science Center this weekend. Does the zoo have anything? Oh, a new movie is coming out? Do they have a FB with the trailer? Let’s watch it and see if the kids are interested in going). FB tells me all the latest news headlines, both serious and humorous. I use FB to watch for items I need on various local swap sites (as well as sell some of my own no longer wanted pieces). It’s also the place where I co-admin two great groups of science minded parents from all corners of the globe, none of whom I would have ever met without FB. And frankly, I love all those parts of FB. I love seeing everyone’s daily news and pictures and videos. I love attending virtual FB parties and being able to support people. I love sharing my own news and pictures of my mostly lovely children. But I also hate FB. I hate how much time it takes to keep up with everything. Especially when my FB newsfeed doesn’t show me what I want to see (thanks, crappy FB algorithm) and I have to go looking for it. And all that time on FB is time I have my face in a screen and not in front of my family. It’s time I’m not doing something remotely productive. It’s papers and tests ungraded and my dining room table untidied. It’s the yard unraked and the dinner unmade. So, as much as I love it, FB is a time suck, and that’s why I’ve decided it has to go. For one day a week-Friday.
Last Friday was my first Facebook Free Friday. I was determined not to log in from my computer or check FB from my phone for the entire day. Not logging in from my laptop was easy enough, but multiple times throughout the morning, I found myself reaching for my phone with the intention of checking FB. It was a compulsion…what am I missing? Did so-and-so have her baby? What about that other mother-to-be that I know? Or the other one? Are there any interesting articles that I’m missing? What’s trending? Is everyone in my groups behaving themselves? These thoughts ran through my head all morning. But as the day wore on, not only was I more productive (in fact, I wrote last week’s blog post on Friday, cleaned out my closets, and caught up on grading), but I found that I also craved looking at FB less and less. By 4pm, I was no longer reaching for my phone to check FB. I spent the evening watching Iowa State give away a basketball game and interacting with my kids. Then I went to bed–without checking into FB “one last time” and then getting sucked in for 2 hours. It was nice.
Although it was lovely to spend time free from Facebook, the day did not break me of my FB habit. As soon as I got up on Saturday morning, I checked FB from my phone, but when I was done reading updates and checking in on my groups (which really only took about 10-15 minutes), I was able to put down my phone and move on with my day. In odd moments on Saturday and Sunday, I still checked FB. Monday; however, found me without interest in “checking in,” and as the week wore on, I found myself less drawn to FB, the web, and technology in general. For whatever reason, it just didn’t hold the appeal it did previously. This past week, I didn’t pull out my phone during those odd moments where I had nothing else to do…like in the doctor’s waiting room, or while I was supervising my children play outside, or during the time where I wait for the clock to reach the hour where I can start class, or a hundred other times I might have normally reached for technology to entertain me. I found myself present during those little moments in life where there isn’t really anything going on but just being a human among other human beings. It’s nice to remember how to just be.
Knowing how to just be and be happy is a powerful skill as is the ability to entertain yourself without a flashing screen in your face every second of every day. This is not to say that I think we should give up FB permanently. I have nothing against social networking sites or technology in general or the manner in which we use these tools. I don’t pine for the days where information was scarce, we couldn’t immediately connect with people both near and far from us, or where I could only shop my local retailers and had to be satisfied with their hours and their current inventory. FB is lovely and I will continue to utilize all the features of it that I love. Just not on Fridays. Fridays are Facebook Free.