At first it was just going to be an experiment: Unplugging from Facebook. Like going into a science lab, I had committed one week to taking an honest look at when and how long (and maybe even why), I had been logging on to this social media site for the last six years.
With a bit of trepidation (what would people think if I just disappear?), in a single click, I deactivated my account. In an instant, my timeline (all those pictures, conversations and comments) disappeared, as if I had never existed.
That first day, unplugged, I quickly realized Facebook had become a bad habit. And like any bad habit, without being aware of it, had taken precedence over areas of my life where it should not.
After three days, like many habits given up, you start to have with drawls and can’t wait to resume them.
But after a week, I noticed there was far less chatter in my head. I was finding that I was spending more time with people. People I love. But also people that lived next door or that I had otherwise too quickly passed by.
And so, I chose to continue non-Facebooking…
At first, it felt selfish — to have my life completely to myself, not sharing anything on social media. But there was also something very empowering in that.
One month passed: I no longer even thought about defaulting to Facebook. Instead, in my spare time, I was reading, journaling or calling a friend.
I was also discovering (and in some cases re-discovering) those things that were most important to me that had somehow waned over the course of many years. And as I spent more time connecting with my true passions, doors started opening.
I had thought that I didn’t have room for any more friendships, but suddenly so many amazing new people were coming into my life. Friendships were developing in real-life, not through an online “request”.
Better yet, not only was I discovering who my real friends were, but who the real me was.
The next thing I knew, three months had passed and I was traveling —Facebook-free, no longer thinking about what pictures I could or should post. Instead, I had my own lense that was free from the number of Likes or Shares.
After six months, I was journaling about not being on Facebook:
“Facebook had become that party in which the room had gotten too crowded and the conversation too scattered and superficial. I was finding it harder to tell the difference between friends I had known since I was six and those that I had met yesterday.
At first, as is the case in most social gatherings, you open the door and are excited about who you will see and catch up with. But when the conversation is going on morning, noon and night, it becomes less about who you are and what is really going on, and more about what will catch the most attention.
…it was exhausting.”
After a year of being unplugged from Facebook, without even realizing it, I had found stillness.
Ironically, this year (with a Facebook timeline that would otherwise appear to have accomplished nothing) was one of great gthe greatest growth.
Like the caterpillar that innately knows it needs to stop “doing” and forms a beautiful safe space for it to evolve and grow, I had gone into my own cocoon. In this cocoon, a metamorphosis takes place. Change is happening in this state that to the rest of the world appears to be just doing nothing.
It was the year I learned to get comfortable with myself. And more importantly, to not only become comfortable with the uncomfortable, but to embrace it.
A year is a long time – and no time at all.
And then one more door opened: An opportunity to move to Europe. Coincidently – or not — just as the butterfly knows it’s time to leave the cocoon, it was time for me to reconnect. Moving to another country, it was important for me to re-embrace social media so that I could now keep in touch with real-life friends who would otherwise be in time zones in which any kind of real-life contact would be difficult.
So, in another single click, I reactivated my Facebook account and reconnected — but with different eyes. Eyes that understood that only one Like mattered: My own.
Want to take a break from Facebook, but not sure where to start? Here are a few tips:
Start small with one week. Just notice what happens.
Uninstall the Facebook app. from your phone.
Better yet, leave your phone at home.
Or, if your are just trying to strike up more of a social media balance in your real-life, here are a few more tips:
Create boundaries. Limit your time social media. And go from there.
Think twice about why you are posting something. If you are expecting something, then you probably shouldn’t be posting it.
If it is a post will benefit others – or if the kindness is authentic, then absolutely post it. ButJust again, don’t let others comments or likes deflect you from your path of why you chose to share it.
I wonder if we all we all everyone took at least part of the time that they spent less time on Facebook (or other social media) and used that time to focus on our dreams, our families, our relationships, even a cause we are passionate about, if the world might start to look quite different.
Also by Kirsten: I Tried It – Aerial Yoga
Related: How to Overcome Social Media Anxiety
Photo: mark sebastian via Flickr