The first time I gave up Facebook was just a year ago, which you can read about here.
The second time was early this year when I felt the conviction that all that online chatter, about as substantial and nutritious as a Chicken McNugget Meal, was filling up the echoes of my mind. The most recent lessons learnt you can read here.
For Lent 2011, I’ve discovered that several of my friends are determining to fast from Facebook. Past experience tells me that this is not going to be easy from the get-go, even for the most disciplined among us.
Why? Facebook has become our main virtual identity, and we derive so much of our news, information, trivia and entertainment off it. Add personal validation to the mix and you’ve got something potent and potentially addictive.
Facing the Resistance
The more active you are on Facebook, the more urges you will have to fight off. These include the need to:
1. Post every clever and snarky thought that enters your head.
2. Check-In at every cool spa/hotel/cafe/restaurant/shop/elite school you find yourself at.
3. Tap the Facebook app on your smartphone when standing in line (which, in Singapore, will be often).
4. Upload smartphone shots of pretty desserts/exotic dishes.
5. Add a friend every time you meet someone new.
6. Like a friend’s comment/post/photo/video/link.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. In descending order of drasticity:
Tip #10: Delete it from your Bookmarks/Tab in your browser.
Tip #9: Download Antisocial, a clever name for a Mac app, which locks you away from social networks like Facebook and Twitter for up to eight hours at a time. There is a free trial, worth downloading to do a practice fast off online social media. Cheating is minimized because of the hassle of rebooting. For those who find the entire Internet distracting, here’s another cool app: Freedom.
Tip #8: Get an accountability partner. Have that person check in with you at least three times a day for the first ten days.
Tip #7: Decide beforehand what activity will replace the time spent on Facebook. This new activity will ideally be the default activity you turn to during lull periods. E.g. I became more conscientious about folding away the laundry (for five people), going on the keys more often, writing blog posts.
In truth, the number of posts during my most recent Facebook fast did not increase. It turned out that real life came crowding into the vacuum left by Facebook. I had more social engagements and projects and stuff just happened that made me happily busy.
Tip #6: Spend more time in prayer and reflection with the Bible on hand.
Grab a notebook and start writing. Write down how you feel, what you’re thinking as you’re fighting the cravings, the urges to gatecrash the party that is going on in the world of Facebook. Write every day.
You’ll come to realize a few truths about Facebook and the falsely-jolly platform it operates on once you’re able to step back a bit.
Tip #5: Rediscover the joy of reading. A real book, not an e-book, Kindle, or bite-sized online news feeds and e-zines. As the song goes, ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby.
Tip #4: Realize that contrary to popular opinion, you *don’t* have to always look busy when you’re in public areas. Time was when people stood quietly in elevators, not doing anything.
Time was when people looked around them and got engaged with life all around instead of fixing their gaze, as though hypnotized, to a small screen in their hands.
Tip #3: Give yourself some allowance.
It’s alright to visit Facebook if unknowing friends send you a Facebook message. Simply reply via email or get their email address and say you’d prefer responding off Facebook. If you’re tagged in a photo, video or link, there’ no harm looking at what they tagged you in.
But be quick about it.
Tip #2: Make the effort to connect with people the pre-Facebook way. Whether it’s e-mail, texting, instant messaging, What’s App-ing, or using niche apps like Path, the satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
Tip #1: Delete the app from your smartphone.
Removing your choices means decreasing the number of bad decisions you will make in a day.