Posted in Communication, Social Media

Why You Shouldn’t Go Off of Facebook and What You Should Do Instead

I am giving you permission to stay on FB. I don’t know if you need that permission or not. But if you have been feeling overwhelmed, or obsessive, or guilty about your FB use, then you might want to read on.

The first reason why you shouldn’t go off of FB is because you like keeping up with what your friends are doing. You scroll down the NewsFeed and you see something funny, someone’s unique sense of humor, and it makes you laugh. Then a little further down you read that someone has a health challenge and maybe you make a short encouraging comment. You read further and see that your friend is expecting a baby. Yay! You congratulate her. And so on….

You enjoy FB or you would not be spending so much time on it.

The second reason is, believe it or not, just like you take an interest in your friends, they take an interest in you. Now, not everybody is diplomatic and understanding and some posts are downright offensive. It is not FB’s fault. It is the fault of your friends. But, I suspect that most of your interactions are actually pretty positive and you enjoy them, and others enjoy you. Your friends liked that humorous post you found, and The Happy Birthday banner you posted, or the Memories you shared. Maybe you posted your artwork or a craft you did. Your friends enjoy seeing what you are up to.

Keeping up with your friends and letting them keep up with you are the two most important reasons to stay on FB. If you honestly do need a break, then FB has an option called, “Deactivate.” This means your account will not be shut down forever. You can still see it but others can’t. You can do this while you think about whether you permanently want to go off FB.

However, I have a few ideas you might want to try before your deactivate, or–hopefully not–quit altogether. But first let’s take a look at some possible reasons you might be thinking of going off of FB.

You might have heard that FB is bad and that they are censoring stuff and limiting what people can see, even good stuff. That could be true. But FB is a tool. It is something you can use to satisfy your own purposes. It does not control what you do. Usually. I know there is the legitimate fear that something you post might be deemed offensive by FB and FB itself might shut you down. But that is a problem that has been experienced by a select few. The FB team tries to censor the bad stuff and they go overboard sometimes. But, for the most part, you are safe, if you behave reasonably decently on FB.

You might also be put off by the ads, and believe me, I am. But you can ignore them. There are even settings you can access to limit certain ads. I’ve limited a lot of ads. Whenever I see something that offends me, or that I am tired of seeing, I click the pull down menu on the right of the ad and indicate I don’t want to see any more of this. Of course I can’t control the very fact that there are ads, so I move on quickly. In this way I control my FB experience, to a great degree.

Some things you have no control over, like hackers, unfortunately. Anyone who has been a victim of hacking has felt violated and I can understand this. There is little we can do to defend ourselves. We can simply explain to our friends and march bravely on.

One important way to control your FB experience is to pay careful attention to who your friends are. If necessary, un-follow them if they constantly drag you down. At worst you can un-friend them. But this has caused numerous hurt feelings, so it’s probably best to un-follow, since they can’t tell if you un-follow.

You can also click “hide post,” if you don’t like someone’s post. I recently discovered that it is a good idea to click “hide post” after I make a comment on a post, like a “Happy Birthday” and I don’t want fifty notifications of others who have also wished this person a Happy Birthday.

You have a lot of control over your FB activity. That being said, you might still want to get off FB because it is consuming too much of your time.

Well, how about considering a few other options first. Here are some ideas.

  1. Take a one day “FB fast” every week.
  2. Go on FB to relax, like during a coffee break or in the evening.
  3. Go on FB every other day.
  4. Have short FB sessions of 5-10 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a day.
  5. Have less frequent longer sessions and set a time limit, say one hour.
  6. Don’t go on FB when there are other people around.
  7. Go on FB only once you have completed certain chores.

In other words, craft FB around your life, around what makes sense to you. You still want the pleasure of interacting, but you don’t want FB to interfere with being your present with others in your daily life, or to stop you from doing the things that matter, or become a substitute for meeting face to face.

I find FB is great for keeping up with friends who live far away. For me that happens to be most of my friends. At one point I almost closed my account but then I reflected on how much I would lose. I thought of all those faces, all the people I want to keep up with, and I changed my mind. My reason for wanting to get off of FB was not so much the time I spent on FB, as it was my frustration with changes to FB which reduced my ability to interact with friends as effectively as I used to. But, alas, FB is not a perfect medium of communication.

Instead of leaving FB, I focused on ways I could continue to use FB as a great way to keep in touch.

So, think it over. You might be able to modify your FB use and not quit completely. But if you still find it is taking over your life and making you miserable, what can I say? The decision is yours. All the best!