Shortly before the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone.
A little too much champagne? No, no. My drink of choice was straight hot chocolate. I was curled up in my pjs on the couch in front of a toasty fire. The children were sleeping soundly–my mental state was about as good as it gets.
According to my estimation, I update my status or post a picture about once a day (in addition to “likes,” comments and shares.) It’s hard to resist posting something funny/endearing/revealing/thought-provoking and receiving those happy little red notifications in return. Deleting this app required a little courage. It felt like voluntarily snipping a lifeline, relinquishing a security blanket.
To be clear: I did not delete my account; I just removed the app from my phone. But why?
1. To be intentional about my goals, I needed to turn down the noise. I have Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram and Bloglovin’; however, I turn to FB the most. I do so primarily from my phone, in snippets of time throughout the day. Mobile Facebook is so cheap and accessible, I tap into it all day long. It doesn’t hold the same lure from my desktop, where checking it requires me to sit in a chair. I can’t afford to sit long. Facebook from my computer has a different cost-benefit analysis, and I hoped I’d regulate my consumption to levels more appropriate for me.
2. At the Arboretum, an employee asked my seven-year-old: “Do you know what Facebook is?” and she scoffed “Of course! My mom’s on it all the time.” As if further emphasis were needed, she punctuated her statement with an eye roll. I was mortified. At myself.
3. I’ve been known to zombie-gaze into my phone while my husband repeats himself. I snapped to when I overheard our 7-year-old sigh “mama really loves her phone…” Nooooo!, my heart gasped…I do NOT love my phone! I love you!” I put the phone away. Until the next time I need a hit. Which I snuck in the bathroom, where no one can deny me the right to spend a few minutes (though I must lock the door to keep out small invaders.)
4. During my FB quickie-checks, I’m lured by articles I want to read. Inevitably, that’s just when one of my children interrupt. I’ll feel annoyed. With my child. For having needs that interrupt the randomness I allow myself on the phone I check out of mindless habit. How ridiculous.
5. I’ve structured my life to spend quality and quantity time with my children while they are young. My children have front-row seats to my habits. It’s a challenge, a responsibility and an incentive to model a healthy relationship to technology that’s not only here to stay, but likely to increase over time. I will have zero credibility to ask them to put down their ___(???s)____ if I can’t manage it myself.
6. When I was a child, my parents were busy in their own ways, but they weren’t checking phones during dinner, from the driver’s seat, and as I tried to tell them something important. More of everybody’s time was spent in social interaction. How will mobile technology shape our kids? Why do we cluck our tongues at children’s use of them and avert our gaze when adults over-use them.
7. My mother passed away nine months ago, an ever-present reminder that time is a finite quantity. Minutes spent on social media add up to hours not spent on something else. My Facebook performance (yes, performance–and yours is, too) is fleeting and insignificant; the influence of a mother is lasting and great. I don’t need to tally up the amount of time I spend on it to know in my gut it’s too much.
Here’s what I’ve noticed during my Facebook-smartphone detox:
- Remember how I worried I would be “voluntarily snipping a lifeline” by deleting an app? That was fear talking. Fear of missing out on the party, I suppose. I’ve actually felt increased peace. When I have joined the FB party from my desktop, I’ve been more intentional about using it to foster off-line connections–a little goal of mine for 2014.
- Remember how I felt I was “relinquishing a security blanket?” A little space helped me to see that a security blanket that generates its own brand of anxiety is not a terrible one to relinquish.
- I’ve realized that I am honestly scared of how easily addictive social media is. I’m aware of its benefits. Still, I’m honestly worried about how the addiction factor will play out in the future on a cultural level. But at the end of the day, all I can do is make whatever changes feel healthy and appropriate for me.
- I’ve been productive with my finite time. More patient with my kids. Less compulsive with my phone. I like it. For now, I’m sticking with it.
If you need more balance between phone and family, but aren’t ready to remove apps, Heather has some alternate suggestions.