“Check out this new website”, says my university friend in 2006.
“How’s it any different than MySpace?” I ask.
“It is! You can share pictures and write things about what you’re doing”, she replies.
I went home that night, created a profile, and found myself on the site every day after that. I needed to gain more friends, I needed people to know what I was doing, I needed to know what everyone else was doing too. It started out simple, then as phones started to get “smarter” I was checking out what was happening when I was bored, when I wasn’t, when I was with other people, as they were updating their statuses to say they were out with me. I had boyfriends tell me I was ridiculous and I was addicted to it, but as any addict knows I convinced myself that I could stop using Facebook anytime, there just wasn’t any reason to.
Over the years, I started to make small changes, eliminate some friends, but I was still on it regularly. More than regularly. Hourly. When I went traveling it was my way of keeping in touch with everyone. But as I continued to travel I realized Facebook had gone from keeping in touch with friends to companies, news reports and advertisers delivering messages directly to me. At the time, there were a lot of news reports about the war going on in Syria and Israel, and before I entered into Egypt and Jordan I decided I had enough. I went through my “likes” and unliked every company, news outlet and everything that no longer served me. I stopped subscribing to feeds and when it was done my Facebook went back to the original intent – information solely about my “friends”.
At first I was really happy to see only pictures and status updates of all my friends, but after a week it quickly got old. People were really boring. I was seeing posts from people I really didn’t care about. My feed was filled with people that I barely even knew. It became such an eye-opener. All this time I had FOMO (fear of missing out), but what was I really missing? I would post pictures and statuses to show people my life was amazing, but who was I really competing with? A large majority of the stories that I saw were of things I would never find interesting in any standard conversation.
After another week or so of finding myself uninterested with the things that were on Facebook, I felt like I was finally starting to get it. I craved real conversation. I wanted to be involved in other people’s lives directly and I wanted them to be involved in mine. I continued to post on Facebook for a while longer because I felt people were heavily invested in my travels and daily stories, but the moment I came back to Canada I stopped. My daily habit was every few days, then it moved onto once a month or so. I got to the point where Facebook was sending me emails letting me know of all the things I was “missing out on” and I realized I never really was. I didn’t care. I was happier with myself and where I was in life. I was happier having personal connections with my few close friends than a superficial connection with hundreds of people. I was happier knowing I was no longer comparing my life to the image that people were posting. I used to be on so often and know everything about everyone, now I will go for a walk with a girlfriend and she tells me one of our mutual friends is pregnant. I get to share that joy with her, in that moment, instead of seeing it, experiencing it by myself and scrolling onto the next story.
1. Unfollow Everything
Open Facebook to your newsfeed preferences. There will be a tab with a list of pages that you currently follow. Unfollow everything. if you like the stories that are posted, think about subscribing to the email list instead of the Facebook page. You will get a daily digest of the most relevant stories instead of scrolling through your facebook feed and seeing stories you may or may not like.
2. Cleanse Your Friends, Unfollow Others
There are certain people that post things that are annoying, ridiculous, or otherwise things you really don’t care about. There are other people that you really don’t even know. Delete those people as friends. Others such as cousins and relatives that you feel compelled to keep, add them to the do not follow list.
3. Delete Apps No Longer Needed
Within settings, there is an area for apps. Maybe you liked the app because it gave you login access to the site for the one-time you used it. Start deleting these apps from your list. You do not need this anymore, they don’t need your demographic information if you are not using their site.
I still have Facebook. I use it for Messenger. I only keep in touch with people directly for specific purposes and I feel more connected with myself and my friends than I ever have before.
How your Facebook feed has changed since making these changes. Is there anything else that you have done to reduce your Facebook use?
Kim Orlesky is an Executive Life Coach inspiring daily joy. She is a world traveller, author, one-time marathoner, adventurer, poor golfer, inconsistent yogi and puppy parent to her Weimaraner.