no facebook for a week

A Week With No Facebook (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)

I did the unthinkable.

I ditched Facebook, and all of social media for that matter, for an entire week.

Some of you are probably thinking “one week, what’s the big deal?” while others are cringing at the idea of not checking Facebook for even a couple of hours. Let me explain why I did it.

A social / productivity experiment.

The productive aspect: I am not the typical Facebook user who spends 15 hours per week scrolling through pictures, commenting and being “social”. However, I was still spending a good amount of time there so I wanted to see exactly how much and if I can invest that extra time into a more productive activity.

The social aspect: would the world stop spinning if I am not on Facebook? Would all my friends forget about me? Would I miss some “epic” event? Does that much actually happen in a week, or do we just kid ourselves about the importance of what our social network shares on Facebook? These were all questions that I was curious to answer.

Here is what I learned from one week with no Facebook.

THE GOOD

My personal world did not stop spinning

The fear of missing out on something “important” started settling in immediately after I did not check my FB account for a few hours. I ignored it. It wasn’t easy at first, but the more I did it, the easier it got. After a few days, I started not missing Facebook almost at all.

In theory, it seemed much harder to live in a world with no social media. In practice, nothing really changes, at least for that one week. My work looked the same, my real-life social life looked the same, my family and friends were still there.

I expected, with no actual reason, that my day-to-day is going to look much different without Facebook. It didn’t.

The takeaway: although it might seem like your world, at least the social aspects of it, is tightly linked to Facebook and the other social media sites, in reality it isn’t. We give social media more credit than it deserves.

Improved communication with people

Having no access to Facebook meant I needed to get creative with how I keep in touch with people. I had to resort to “old-school” methods such as calling my friends and family on the phone (or Skype).

Taking the time to have a one-on-one conversation with someone where I give them my full attention (and I have theirs) led to a much deeper connection. We actually talked. About meaningful stuff. We shared. We bonded.

Takeaway: leaving a comment (or even worse, a “like”) below someone’s cute picture does not mean you are communicating. Although you are connected to a much larger circle of people on Facebook than what you can be in real life, if you take your communication with them offline, you are going to have a much more meaningful relationship with people. Quality over quantity.

Did not miss out on anything major

One week with no social media might seem like a eternity, but in real life it really is just a blink of an eye. Yes, I did miss a few changed profile pictures, people checking in different restaurants for lunch and a few articles about “X places you should visit before you die” type of articles from Buzzfeed, but nothing major really happened in that one week.

Why?

Takeaway: because people don’t put the really important events of their lives on Facebook, unless it is related to a social media “sexy” topic such a wedding, exotic vacation, new shiny object or a night out with friends at the coolest new club. When was the last time your social circle shared about starting a new job, or moving to a new house or reading a cool book? People only share the topics and pictures that they believe will get them the biggest amount of likes and comments (fancy words for social acceptance). Harsh statement, but true nevertheless.

More free time

Less time on Facebook means more time to engage in other activities. By a rough estimate, I was spending a good hour on social media every day for a total of about 6 hours per week. That is a lot less than the average 15, but still a lot of time. In  6 hours, I can write a couple of blog posts, read an entire book (a shorter one, of course), go to the gym a few times, watch 3 long movies (or 6 episodes of “Suits”).

Takeaway: social media related activities take a lot of our time. If you want to do your own social experiment, download Toggl on your phone or computer and time your Facebook use for a week. You will be surprised at what you discover.

Better appreciation of life

No social media exposure meant I had to spend more time with myself. It is a weird feeling, but also quite exciting. I felt my life was more private, it was actually mine. I appreciated all the activities I did in that one week a little more because they required no external validation. If I enjoyed going to the movies, it was because I enjoyed going to the movies, not because I posted a picture of me being there and received a lot of comments and likes.

Life felt more authentic as I did not give any thoughts about whether my social network will “like” what I do. It can be very invigorating to share something you are excited about and to receive a lot of positive feedback from your peers in the form of “likes”, shares and comments. But the flip side is also true, sometimes you post something just to get some validation of how “cool” the thing is just to get no traction at all which completely spoils your fun.

Takeaway: if you let go of the need for social proof and acceptance, you will most likely enjoy your life much more. Social media should only amplify the positive experience, not dictate if an experience is good or bad.

More phone battery

Since my iPhone is my social media hub, no Facebook for a week meant my battery lasted much longer. An unexpected, but definitely appreciated side benefit of using social media less.

Takeaway: social media uses a good portion of one’s phone or laptop battery. If you really need to preserve it for some other important activity such as phone calls, GPS navigation or presentations, less social media will help.

THE BAD

The outside world did not stop spinning

After I proudly returned to the social media space, I sadly realized I wasn’t missed that much. The world did not stop spinning because I wasn’t there.

Nothing had really changed without me.

The weird realization of how small of a part we play in the world of others started creeping in. It was not a good feeling to have.

Takeaway: we are so uber-connectected via social media because we want to feel like each one of us matters. The fear of being alone is one of the most basic, most primal fears all humans share and social media is an excellent remedy for it.

Missed out

Although I did not miss out on any major personal events, I did arrive late to the party on a couple of business ones. I did not really miss them out completely, but I learned about them a week later than everyone else so I had to spend a good amount of time digging through old discussions in order to get the full scoop.

I also received a few Facebook messages late. They did not contain actually important, or time-sensitive information. However, getting back to people after a few days does not help deepen the relationship with them.

Takeaway: we use Facebook for much more than just keeping up with friends and family. We use it for business, as a one-on-one messaging service and much more. As such, life with no Facebook at all would be hard.

Off-topic realization – Facebook is everywhere

The entire Internet is connected via Facebook.

During my social media fast, I often ended on Facebook via a 3rd party website or having to login to a service using my FB credentials. From games, to mobile apps to even professional services, more and more businesses require you to use Facebook to get access to what they have to offer. This helps them verify you are an actual person, keeping spam at bay while opening the possibility of their service going viral as what you do gets shared with your social network automatically.

Facebook is not just a social network anymore.

It is a password-managing-human-verification service that goes well beyond mere socializing.

What the future holds

I am not giving up Facebook.

I did my one-week experiment just as that, an experiment, not because I have anything against Facebook (although you might sense a little bit of sarcasm in the tone of my writing).

I will keep using Facebook, but a lot less. It is a great source of entertainment and a way to disconnect from the real world, or take a break from work. It also provides the means to keep in touch with people I cannot be connected with in any other way. However, I can do all of that in 30 minutes of less per day, thus cutting my current Facebook time and half and gaining 3 extra hours per week.

THE UGLY

The productivity aspect

Did not using Facebook for one week make me more productive? Yes. More time to spend, more mental freedom, less distractions.

Would not having a Facebook account at all make me more productive? No. I would need to spend a lot more time and effort keeping in touch with people. Plus, I would be communicating with a much smaller circle. The average user has 130 friends. Imagine having to call, chat, meet with that many people on a regular basis, outside of social media. Simply not possible.

People are social creatures by nature. We get happy when we interact with other people. Happy people are productive people. Facebook might not provide the deepest of relationships with your peers, but it does provide the means to interact with them.

The bottom line: as long as you control Facebook and your other social media accounts, and not the other way around, you are in good shape. If you take the good aspects (the entertainment, the quick social break, etc.), while controlling the bad ones (spending too much time scrolling through the latest pictures of your friends or mindless browsing because you are bored), Facebook will actually make you more productive.

Over to you now

I learned a lot from ditching Facebook for a week. It lead to a lot of personal realizations, some good, some not so good, but all of them important.

I urge you to conduct your own little experiment and see what you get out of it. Go on a Facebook fast for a few hours, a day, or even a week. Even better, go with no email, no cell phone, etc. You might hate it, you might like it, but one thing is for sure, you’ll learn a lot from it. You’ll learn more about your own values and your own life which puts you in control. Being on autopilot in a fast-paced OK life is the scariest feeling.

Be proactive, do your own little experiments, learn about yourself and the quality of your life will thank you for it.

Have you ever said “no” to Facebook or other social media for a certain amount of time? If not, would you do it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

  • http://www.asianefficiency.com/ Aaron Lynn

    I did the same a couple of weeks ago – deleted the Facebook app off my iPhone and iPad.

    Here’s how I made up for the messages though – I installed Facebook Messenger and set notifications to ON for that. That way I still get messages about friends passing through town and everything, but don’t get distracted by links and articles on the newsfeed.

    After 2 weeks I’m sticking with it – absolutely not missing anything at all.

    Another good piece leverage is when you learn to use graph search for market research – you can literally see almost anything that people have liked, done or commented on if you use the right queries. That kind of visibility is a little too much for me :)

    Also interesting the 130 friends thing – most people I know have 1,000-3,000 friends.

    • http://www.highperformancelifestyle.net Kosio Angelov

      That’s a great strategy Aaron! You get the good (the messages), without the bad (the distractions), pretty neat.

      Agreed on the Graph search, it’s is killer once you learn how to use it (which takes quite some time and experimenting). It is scary though how much Facebook knows about us.

      Most people I know also have in the 1000s of friends, but keep in mind that online entrepreneurs are not the “typical” Facebook users so we cannot base it only on our social circles :)