I was addicted to Facebook. As a matter of fact, I was so addicted at one point, I spent at least 15 minutes of every waking hour either playing a Facebook game (CastleVille mainly), chatting, or just going over posts. That was a luxury I could take while I was finishing up my bachelors degree and already online the majority of the day, but it still left me very little time to write or do anything else. It wasn’t until I distanced myself from Facebook that I realized exactly what it was doing to me.
Even if you don’t feel addicted to social networking, read on. You might discover that these tips can even help you become more productive throughout the day!
During my addiction, and I truly believe it was just that, I couldn’t go more than a half hour even while out with friends or family without checking my Facebook. I hated it when other people did that, but yet I couldn’t stop myself! I’d get notifications every 5-10 minutes, replies to my posts or posts I’ve posted in, new posts from my close friends/family, etc. How could I NOT be addicted? The truth is, social networks are set up to pull you in and keep you there, especially if you’re using them from a smartphone that you carry with you at all times.
That’s when I realized Facebook was controlling me, not the other way around. When a new notification came in, it was like Facebook was whispering into my ear “hey, you got some new content. You know it’s more important than driving safely! Just a quick peak is good, it won’t take long.” (I do not condone Facebooking and driving in anyway, please don’t do it!) It was when that voice was so ingrained into my mind, into my daily activities, and I’d check my Facebook even when there was no new notification, did I realize that it was affecting my quality of life. It was dictating how I spent a good chunk of my time and it took away from the world around me.
I decided enough was enough, I had to stop cold. Not Facebook all together, just the constant notifications and checking to see if maybe there is a new post on my wall. It wasn’t easy, I will tell you that, but I did feel an instant release when I disabled all notifications. I no longer thought about it when my mind was elsewhere, I was able to get more done in any given hour, and most of all I didn’t have my phone in my hand or in front of my face during conversations at dinner or sitting around drinking a beer with friends. It felt nice! For the first time in years, I didn’t feel obligated to know exactly what was happening on Facebook at all times.
Of course, this can be applied to any social network, not just Facebook. At the time I had this addiction, I wasn’t active on any other major social network, so I wasn’t too worried about them taking over, but I disabled the notifications on most of them, also. The only exception was Twitter and only because the notifications were far and few. Once I did start to try and build my Twitter following, I left all my notifications on so that I knew what was happening, but even that became too much when I was getting retweeted, favorited, added, and replied to all day, so I’ve since even turned most of those off.
Now you might be saying “But Jeremy, you’re a writer. Social Networking is important and something you have to stay on top of!” and you’d be absolutely right. I still get notifications for my Facebook author page and Tweets that are @ me, but that is it. More than that, I now have control over when I look at the notifications and have come to a point where I can ignore a message or tweet for as long as I need to, until I have some down time. I spend 1 hour in the mornings on Twitter and then usually 30 minutes to 1 hour at night, after I get home from work. This has been working out great because I’m still part of whatever is going on out there, but not so much that I’m letting it control me. I still do check the occasional tweet at work, or go on Facebook, but that’s usually when I have a few minutes free (which is rare).
My quality of my life has increased more than I could ever explain to you in this post and I highly recommend you try it out for yourself. Turn off your notifications on whichever social network plagues you (or all of them!) and see how you feel. After the first few days, you’ll notice a difference, but after a few weeks, you’ll feel free. The bonds of notifications and constant checking of your wall will be released and you can walk out of the Facebook dungeons in Menlo Park with a renewed vigor and outlook on life.