I had tried a lot of different strategies. Pomodoro, blocking the site all together with a Chrome browser extension. I even unfollowed 80% of my connections on facebook so that very few updates showed up in the news feed. I finally decided it just had to go and here’s why:
Break the Twitch is about two core ideas, physical minimalism and digital distractions. The ‘twitch’ manifests in many, many different ways but the most important are the two aforementioned. After spending over four years in an intimate relationship with Amazon Prime and the One-Click Purchase button, I realized I was purchasing unneeded solutions to largely made up problems. I wanted things I’d see without thinking much about it. Purchasing became more of an involuntary twitch than an intentional decision I was making. On the digital side of things, it’s a little different – I’d be working on writing copy, or a particular design project and in a moment when I’d reach a difficult spot, I’d find myself opening facebook without even realizing it. It became a familiar combination of key punches in the browser:
Control – T, F, A, C, Enter.
This of course would open a new browser tab, autofil www.facebook.com and dump me straight into the newsfeed. One of the (many) issues with this twitch was the fact that I hadn’t even intended to open it. It was almost an involuntary response to getting briefly stuck working on a project. I’d never spend more than a few seconds on facebook before closing the tab, realizing that I had already looked at the newsfeed and there was nothing new. The major problem is that this would happen dozens of times throughout the day.
I was doing something without even wanting to do it, involuntarily based on muscle memory. On April 15th I just pulled the trigger and deactivated my account. It’s not permanent yet, but knowing that it’s deactivated has given me the ability to just not go to it at all and ‘break the twitch’, if you will. I’m only a few days in but my fingers no longer automatically flow into the pattern that ends up on the facebook timeline.
Have I missed it?
The answer is, yeah, a little. There have been a few times I’ve been contacted by people saying they were going to tag me in something but then my name didn’t come up and they couldn’t. Definitely felt like I might be missing out on something there. There have been a few moments where I thought about something (that I thought was) funny and wanted to put it on there, only to be disappointed that I couldn’t. Those moments have been fleeting, though, and the desire to constantly share the things I’m doing are quickly subsiding.
How much time do we give to things that give us very little in return?
It may have not seemed like much, only a minute or two at a time but the collective effect was felt. I was getting so little satisfaction or even relaxation out of this habit that was happening so frequently, it had to stop. We have a limited ability to make decisions throughout the day and each time I’d pull myself away from whatever I was working on, I was losing increasingly more of that ability.
In the five-odd days that I’ve been without facebook, I’ve definitely noticed an overall improvement in general productivity and stress levels. After a few minutes of fearing that people wouldn’t be able to contact me, I remembered that a quick google search brought up my personal website with a multitude of ways.
In an attempt to solidify these results, I’ve earmarked my facebook hiatus to end on April 30th, but have a feeling that I may never go back. As I have with many physical possessions, I believe I will continue to minimize that which is not necessary to leading the fulfilling life that I desire. Right now, facebook doesn’t seem to be making the cut.
Do you feel like time spent on facebook is rewarding? What would you lose if you gave it up completely? What would you gain?