At the beginning of the year, I ditched Facebook. Well, kind of. I still use Messenger. It’s been amazing so far. In October, I took it a step further. I noticed that the Facebook app on my phone was still sending me notifications that I would just ignore. Then, on one night, I just deleted the app. And instantly, I felt free.
Here’s why I use my Facebook account now:
- Messenger. Because literally no one likes to text now
- Very few groups I’m a part of that I check a couple times a week
I do not check Facebook on my phone, and only check on my computer once or twice a day (again, just for Messenger).
So other than “feeling free”, what else changed?
Phone battery improved
A lot. Even though I almost never opened the Facebook app, somehow, deleting it improved the battery life.
I stopped feeding the machine
Because I don’t interact with posts, statuses or photos on Facebook (unless they directly refer to me), I stopped giving Facebook signals about what I like. This crippled the model they built for me. Now, if I check my news feed, it’s complete junk - events in faraway lands, useless posts from people I don’t recognise anymore. It is so bad, that it makes me not want to check it again.
Controlling what I consume
When you go to a restaurant, it’s nice that you are able to choose what to eat. It makes you feel free. But on Facebook, you don’t control anything. Algorithms show you what they think will get you hooked and make them money. You have no control on the content you see at all. And sometimes, it can cause real pain.
My mood was better
The News Feed is full of stuff that either made me sad about my life, or pissed off about others’ lives. That’s not the way I want to feel.
Understanding the compulsion
There’s a whole book written by Nir Eyal called Hooked. Basically, there are three steps:
Trigger: Something triggers you to check Facebook. Probably notifications.
Action: You act and check Facebook, to feel closer to others.
Reward: More likes. More comments. More shares. More notifications.
Investment: The reward prompts you to get thirsty for more triggers. Hence you post more, comment more, share more - and end up investing hours.
So, to break out of this loop, all you need to do is cut one of the first two steps. It’s much easier to cut the Trigger.
Cutting the Trigger.
It’s easy (in retrospect). Just follow these steps.
Convince yourself that ditching Facebook (partially, or completely) is for your own good. No matter what the reason, it needs to be yours. Mine won’t be strong enough for you.
Install Kill News Feed (Chrome) to block your news feed. Nothing useful is happening anyways.
Do this for a week. That’s it. Take it a day at a time. After a week, you’ll notice that literally nothing around you has changed. Except you’ve become better. Try it for a month. Then a year.
Delete the Facebook app. Keep Messenger or Groups if those are important for you.
Again, you’ll soon notice that literally nothing around you has changed. You suddenly be able to read more books, write more blog posts, or just tweet more. :)
Dealing with FOMO
FOMO, or fear of missing out, is what makes Facebook so addictive. It’s frightful to think about missing big announcements your friends might be making. But I’m OK with that. If someone really wants me to know something about their life, I can usually find out through other channels (Twitter, text, in-person). If I want someone to know something about me, they usually find out through a more targeted channel.
After a few months of avoiding Facebook, one thing I’ve realized is that there’s a lot you can get from getting to know people more personally. Facebook posts spread you too thin. There’s better and more efficient ways to connect with people. I hope this post motivates you to try going Facebook-free in 2016 and beyond.