I just finished my second week without social media, and I’ve decided Facebook is a lot like fast food — when I consume less, I crave less. I’m only halfway through the month, and I already don’t even think about social media. I no longer feel the urge to jump onto a social network to vent or catch up on acquaintances’ lives. Despite the fact that Facebook has been a daily part of my life for over 5 years now, after only two weeks, life feels totally normal without it.
I’ve noticed an interesting and unexpected side effect this week, though. I hoped that logging out of social networks for a month would give me more time for blogging and other more creative Internet pastimes. It has actually had the opposite effect. Without social networks, I find myself putting down my computer and phone for longer stretches of time. Without an excuse to use them throughout the day, I’m not easily reminded that I should be blogging or working. I don’t feel creatively inspired. My computer actually sat in the same spot, unopened, from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon this past weekend. I suppose that was the point of the experiment, partly — to disconnect and find more balance. But the truth is, I miss the creative outlet.
Am I more productive? Eh, not really. It’s true that we’ve been more productive around the house than normal the past couple weeks (pictures to come!), but that has more to do with my husband being home and both of us on summer vacation than my social media break. I’m still finding ways to distract myself.
The big question I wanted to answer, though: is my life better without social media? And the answer is not really. I expected this break to have much broader effects on my life, but the truth is, I really don’t think logging out of Facebook for the past two weeks has made me a better mother, wife, or friend. It hasn’t made me particularly happier, smarter, more creative or more productive. Everything feels pretty much the same only now I’m not spending part of my day connecting with people I wouldn’t otherwise see in daily life.
I do miss my Facebook friends. I sometimes wonder what some of them are up to. Unfortunately, I still don’t feel like I have the time to pick up the phone and call them. It’s something that I need to work on — with or without social media. I hoped without Facebook I would be more motivated to try, but that hasn’t been the case. Now I just feel out of the loop and even guiltier for being too busy to take the time to catch up. At least with social media, I knew what was going on with them. I could congratulate their successes, and even make a call if something they posted alerted me that they needed me. Without Facebook, I don’t have time to call, and I don’t even have a reminder that I should.
It’s been an interesting experiment, and I’m sticking with it for the rest of the month. It has been nice not spending so much time attached to a screen, and I certainly think I’ll take some of the balance I’ve found with me when the month is over. So far the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I have no reason to feel guilty about the time I spend connecting with people on social networks. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, and at least social networks are more engaging, helpful, educational, and, well, social than television. If I had to choose one vice over the other, I think I’ll stick with Facebook.