If you have to ask, no, I’m not quitting Facebook because I’m a 14 year old girl who gets my feelings hurt when all my friends are invited to Sergei’s rager and I’m not. I’m not a hopeless Farmville addict. Anymore. (Hey, that was a long time ago and we don’t talk about that.) I’m not scared it’ll cost me my job or any future jobs I may seek. I don’t think the Russians are using it to spy on me, or that the targeted ads have seen into the depths of my soul.
Then why? Well, if you must know, I just don’t have the discipline to use it sparingly. Every time a page takes too long to load, or svn takes too long to up, I seem to find myself mindlessly poring over status updates that I’ve seen a dozen times already. Yes, because I’ve refreshed the page that many times over the last few hours. I’ve been Facebook free for just 2 days, but here are some things that have helped me:
Out of sight, out of mind
Remove all obvious signs of Facebook from your browser. Delete it from your toolbar, bookmarks bar, and if you use Chrome, remove that thumbnail of it. It’s easier to avoid if you aren’t being constantly reminded of it.
Set up notifications
Wean yourself off it. Convince yourself that you’re being notified of important things (messages, new friend requests, being tagged in photos as an animal’s hindquarters) and then you’ll only be tempted to log on when something really important* happens.
Use other distractions
If you find yourself going on Facebook because you have a few minutes here and there, keep a list of little online tasks you need to do. Like replying to that email from your Aunt Mildred, or moving money into your Roth IRA account. Instead of giving in and wasting time, you’ll get some small task done every time you’re tempted.
Tell people you’re trying to quit. Then they won’t assume you’ve died or demoted them to a more filtered friends list. You may get the added benefit of finding out who really loves you, because they’ll have to make an extra effort to keep up with you. But if you’re like me, and nobody loves you, it may be lonely for a few days… But then you’ll get used to it! Oh, alright. Since this is all my fault, I’ll be your friend.
Get a human newsfeed
You probably know at least one someone who has a lot of common friends. Maybe you even talk to that person in real life. Great! Have them give you all the exciting news. You can feel busy and important, like the president. He never actually reads anything, right? His minions just tell him all the juicy stuff. You can even employ a fun code phrase for extracting this information from your human newsfeed such as “Fetch me my newspaper!”
Find a new hobby
You’ll find you’ve freed up time. Potentially hours a day. Learn a new language. Become an artist. Take up day trading. It’ll be good for morale to see your own progress. At least you’ll have a better answer to the question “where did that time go.”
* Here I am using the first-world definition of really important