I’ve alluded before to being “too connected” and lately, I’ve been feeling like I need to revisit this topic.
My husband spent the last four or five days glued to his Samsung Galaxy playing the extremely addictive game, 2048.
I admit, I too have fallen victim to it’s simple concept and quick, mindless play. But every time I looked at him, all I saw were his fingers sliding across the screen and the glow of pastel colored game tiles illuminating his face. It was like he didn’t exist. Quite an unsettling feeling comes over you when your partner is in the room, but you feel like you haven’t looked them in the eye or spoken the entire morning!
Aside from chastising him and telling him his son is going to grow up to think his father is the back of a smartphone – “…Daddy….?!” (because you know I did) I paused to reflect on how much time I spend cast in the glow of my own phone or computer – and what causes me to linger there.
Luckily, most of my reasons for staring at a screen are actually constructive in life (work email, balancing finances, online learning) but I can’t claim total innocence, either.
What distracts me on the internet? Facebook, mostly.
Which prompted me to make
My Rules for Facebook.
Trust me, I do not claim to be the perfect Facebook user. In fact, over the course of the past ten years, I’ve probably been guilty of breaking all of my self-proclaimed rules – multiple times. I’m devising these rules now to set some boundaries for myself, as I find the un-endingness of Facebook to be slightly disturbing. Often as I’m scrolling through the news feed, I ask myself why I’m even looking at it. What does it do for me? How is it constructive? Why do I care? DO I even care? And why do I share whatever it is that I share? I try my best to keep my posts fresh, witty or educational, but I often feel guilty of self-promotion – which at its core is mostly what Facebook is. And I don’t like that feeling.
I recently watched this short video which sheds some light (very creatively I might add) on what Facebook is doing to our brains. I couldn’t agree with it more. It’s scary. So without further adieu, my rules.
1. Limit the number of log ins each day.
The average user logs into Facebook a whopping 14 times a day. Considering we are only typically awake for, say, about 14 hours each day, my math comes out to logging on once an hour. That’s appalling! There is no reason for most people to log onto Facebook that often, and certainly not for me.
2. Do not use Facebook to play games.
Games waste time. Facebook wastes time. Can one not see why this is a terrible combination? And do not invite other people to play games through Facebook either. It’s annoying.
3. Do not use Facebook to sign up for or sign into other media platforms.
Unless we expect Facebook to be around as long as the internet is around – which I quite honestly hope it isn’t – it’s probably a good idea to just let Facebook be Facebook and let everything else be everything else. You’re going to get stuck without an account log in for a plethora of websites if Facebook is ever shut down. How annoying would that be?! Sure they’ll find a way to fix it, but seriously, who wants to deal with that? Also, I don’t want Facebook to have access to those sites or platforms, or vice versa.
4. If you don’t have anything nice to share, don’t share anything at all.
How easily the Golden Rule is applied! Facebook is not, and should not be, a soap box for one to stand upon and from which to air out their dirty laundry. I really don’t need to see your cryptic messages about how relationship xyz is over, nor do I care to read about how horrible your life is. If it’s that bad, you should probably spend more time investing in real friends and relationships, and less time posting about your bad ones on Facebook.
5. Don’t share memes or someecards or “Top Thirty” lists or any other obnoxious forms of social media fodder.
While it is tempting to let everyone know just how bad your Friday at work has been by sharing a 5-second video clip of someone repeatedly banging their head on a desk or a cartoon of an office worker tossing a pile of papers into the air with a witty caption, we just really don’t need anymore of these clogging up Facebook. Things like this are probably better meant for email (email? What’s that?), where you can share with only the most appropriate audience and not every single friend you have on the world wide internet. Does your Great Aunt Mildred even know what you do for a living? So then she probably doesn’t need a cartoon about how much it sucks popping up on her newsfeed every other day.
6. Don’t check in to everything you do.
Unless you want 600 people to know exactly where you are and be able to track you down in real time. Then sure, go for it. Also, because I really don’t need to know that you spent your Sunday getting a latte at Starbucks, doing your laundry at the Coin-Op and getting your hair colored. If you really want to check in, use something like Foursquare or Yelp, that was meant for checking in and reviewing businesses. Your Facebook friends’ news feeds will appreciate it.
7. Do not provide a visual play-by-plays of what you are doing (ie: post a new picture with captions every 5 minutes).
This work is better left to an actual photo album, which, if you can manage to restrain yourself and actually be present in whatever it is you are doing in real life, can be easily assembled in just a few minutes after said activity is complete. I love seeing your vacation pictures, trust me, but I don’t want to scroll ten pages through my news feed to get away from them.
8. Turn off all alerts – to email, phone, computer, etc.
Facebook is distracting and time-consuming enough as it is. No need to have your electronic(s) vibrate and ding at your every. single. time. that Facebook has a new story to share…you’re already going to check it fourteen times in a day anyways, right? Do you really need it telling you in between those log ins that there are more (meaningless) things to read?
So what do I think Facebook is good for?
1. Keeping in touch.
Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with those who are not close enough to you (either by distance or association) for you to see or speak with in person or on a regular basis. Friends in foreign countries, pals from high school or college, past coworkers. You can see what they’ve been up to and say hi, without the long distance charges, or sending photos via snail mail, or old fashioned gossip, etc.
2. Sharing big news.
Moving? Engaged? Pregnant? Facebook is great for sharing news like this with everybody you know at once. Now, there are still certain friends and family members who should hear about things like this in person well before it’s “Facebook Official” – but otherwise, what a fantastic tool to get that news out fast!
Because we are going to follow the rules above and keep our Facebook account pretty minimalist, it should be a great way to network and keep yourself in touch with certain groups or certain people. I love the ability for a business or organization to create a page and for users to be able to “Follow” that page and to receive news, information, offers, etc. in real time from that entity. And it’s as equally beneficial for said group to have such an easy way to reach a large target audience with so-to-speak “forced” promotions that show right up on the news feed (versus the old fashion method of getting a consumer or member to visit your actual webpage). It’s called a social network for a reason.
4. Photo Sharing.
Now some may argue and say there are better designed or more appropriate sites or social media platforms through which to share photos (and I would agree) but the majority of people are doing this through Facebook. Not everyone has a Flickr or Instagram account, and so when you post to Facebook, you know “everyone” is going to be able to see your pictures without having to print out, text, email, or otherwise share the photo(s) multiple times to reach multiple parties.
5. Charity/Fundraising/Good Causes
I’ve read many a story of great things happening because a story was shared on Facebook, and I’ve seen firsthand how easy it can be to fundraise when you utilize Facebook to reach an audience. They get a gold star for this; and it’s not because Facebook was necessarily designed to be used this way, but because it so easily and perfectly is.
And that, my friends, is the long and short of it. I’ve made it about 36 hours and logged onto Facebook only once. Once! And it was my birthday yesterday – so my phone was constantly alerting me that yet another person had written “Happy Birthday” on my wall. It actually took self control to not slide over my notification bar every time another alert appeared. Instead, I just pushed the lock button on the top of my phone and carried on my day. Funnier still, is that I felt proud to be able to ignore Facebook. As if something was demanding my attention, and I just told it “No.” I felt more like a real person, more like myself, rather than a copied and pasted, edited, online version of me.
It felt good.