Overall, I was surprised how little I thought about it. At first, during moments of boredom, I thought about checking Facebook to pass some time. That lasted around two weeks in total. The last half of the 30 days went much smoother and I barely thought of the site. The “freedom” from the thoughts (once they basically stopped occurring), was refreshing.
It’s amazing how much the digital world impacts you, even subconsciously. There are a ton of studies and articles on the fear of missing out, how Facebook makes you feel sad/depressed/miserable, and so on. Anecdotally, I agree. I didn’t use a log or track happiness or anything, but in general I think having one less thing to worry/think about in your life is never a bad thing — especially when it’s something like a web site.
One challenge (and something Facebook is pretty good at) was the email notifications. I turned off all notification emails from Facebook a long time ago, but apparently pending notification emails aren’t one you can turn off. I received a ton of them. The email I received last night said I have 95 pending notifications, along with a sampling off all the things I missed since I last logged in to the site. Facebook does have to improve at the selection of events it includes — most were not specific enough to entice you by any means. (“So-and-so commented on so-and-so’s status”? OMG, yes I need to find out what was said!)
I did have a few experiences of “did you see that on Facebook?”, but overall that slowed to a trickle over time as well. My wife did pass me her phone a few times to show me a few funny/cute things I didn’t see, although none were in the “OMG, I need Facebook” category. One thing I didn’t see, and regret, was missing the opening of my friends art show at WNYBAC. A lot of people rely on the Facebook events feature now, so that is one weakness of not checking into Facebook occasionally.
So, what did I do in place of Facebook (and even other social networking) time?
- Moved forward with starting my own business with two current co-workers and friends (more coming on that soon!)
- Finished reading The $100 Startup (highly recommended)
- Read a ton of comic books
- Continued plugging away at Carte Blanche (newest James Bond book), which I continually forget that I am reading
- Started two more books: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and the Zen of Listening
- talked with family on phone and in person more
Most of these aren’t life changing, but all were things I wanted to do and either put off before or made very slow progress. That was a pleasant outcome of this experiment, as well.
And then the big question I’ve been asked: what are you going to do now?
Honestly I don’t know. Things I do want to figure out first:
- A strategy for who I stay connected with on Facebook (Thinking friends and close friends only at this point.)
- Which email notification would be most useful to turn on.
- How I can take advantage of the events calendar, without being actively engaged in the site.
- How I access the site. (I’m thinking Flipboard only at this point.)
- Active browsing and usage vs. just sharing to the site (I know some people rely on Facebook for all friends/family news, so this would accommodate them without me having to use the site.)
So, just a few things to figure out and at this point I’m not feeling much pressure to make decisions on any of these items, given the results of this experiment.
Anyway, give it a try. Living without Facebook is totally fine. You may actually like it!