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Thursday, February 21, 2013

letting go of Facebook and finding real happiness

One of the best parts of going away on our family vacation was the opportunity that I had to unplug from the virtual world. I didn't realize just how much I needed this break from the online world, but while on the trip, I came to a realization that I have a little problem with the internet (Facebook mostly). I think this problem of mine has been slowly creeping up on me and it kind of hit me in the face when I had the one week break from it. Now that I am home, I am trying to make some changes in my life that I hope will make me me productive in my days and more happy at home.
Let me start off by saying this, when I wake up in the morning, the very first thing I want to do is check my Facebook account. If that's not a problem, then I don't know what is. Starting my day off by looking at what my 300 plus Facebook friends are doing is not a healthy or positive way to start my day, I have come to realize. It actually sort of sets my day up for failure, as I compare myself to what ever friend's status has caught my eye.
It's a known fact that people post about the highlights of their day on Facebook. The trips they've been on, the meal they've cooked, the fun times they've had with their family and friends. And while this is all good (it would be depressing to read about every bad thing that happened to people), I find that it gives me a skewed  view on how people actually are spending their time. I often go on Facebook when I am lonely, tired, or bored, so reading about everyone's perfect day often sets me up for even more of a bad mood, because I compare my seemingly boring life to someone's perfect life. By the way, I know that no one has a perfect life. At some point in time, we all lose our temper with our kids and spouses, have a messy home or just generally feel blah, but still I do think that Facebook gives a skewed view on how people live their lives.
The next thing that leads me to want to change my habits in using Facebook is that amount of time that I devote to this site. I can't actually count the amount of times that I go onto Facebook daily and waste away a half hour here and there checking out what others are doing. On top of not actually gaining anything positive from it, I just sit there scanning the screen, while I could be doing a host of other things.
I want to be more productive with my time. Each night I go to bed looking at that same pile of clothes that I need to sort through (some to give away, some to keep, some to put in the kids rooms). Instead of tackling the list of things that are nagging me (house work, photo work), and actually doing the things that I love (cooking, walking, painting), I waste my time online. This is not how I want to spend my precious time on earth. I'm certain no one ever died saying, "Gee, I'm so glad I spent all that time on Facebook while I was alive and able to do real life things."
I have a list of things I'd like to do more of, and none of them include spending more time on Facebook.
Here is my list of things that I would like to do more of (in no order):
:: bake bread
:: make pies
:: go on more nature walks
:: do yoga
:: paint
:: listen to more music
:: learn to play the ukelale so that I can play music with the kids
:: learn to crochet
:: read more
:: make more crafts for myself, as gifts, for the kids, with the kids
:: sit and talk with my husband (uninterrupted)
:: make more phone calls to my family and friends far away
:: have visits with my friends nearby
:: and so so so much  more

Another problem that I have with my bad Facebook habits are the examples that I am teaching my children. When I am on the computer multiple times a day, it shows a distracted and unattentive mother, it shows that I am not spending my time doing things that are good for me. But more than anything, I think it sends a message to my kids that what is going on in the virtual world is more important than our time together in this very moment. Instead of building forts, baking, crafting or just being together, I am distracted and paying more attention to this silly thing called Facebook. Simply put, this is not okay, and I need to make some changes.
So this brings me to what I plan on doing in regards to my bad Facebook habits. I thought about deleting my account but am not going to do that for a few reasons. While I do think that my habits in using Facebook are bad, I don't hate the whole concept of Facebook entirely.
I have actually made many wonderful contacts and even some friends through Facebook. It was actually FB that introduced me to one of my closest friends here in Whitehorse (Sarah). It has allowed me to keep in touch with friends in Montreal, the East Coast, friends from my university days and more. I don't want to lose those connections, and I see Facebook as a good medium for that. I also have to say that it is Facebook that has helped me to be so successful in reaching so many people when it comes to my photography business. So for these reasons, I am not going to give up Facebook entirely. I am however, going to change my habits drastically and be more mindful as to what I do with my time and how I spend it.
So for these reasons, I have decided that I am going to have a 5 mins, twice a day Facebook limit. During the daytime (while the kids are napping or occupied), I will be allowed to go on twice a day but only for 5 mins. This means a quick email message, a quick glance at what my friends might be doing. Then that's it.
In the evening, I will go on once more to do personal or business stuff, but limit my time to 20 mins. I really think these are reasonable and healthy limits that will help me to curb my addiction (yes, I do think it is an addiction) to this virtual world.
 My other rules surrounding my use are these:
:: I am not allowed to start my day off by looking at Facebook. Coffee, hugs, greetings to my family, even yoga come before I check in on Facebook.
:: I am not allowed to use Facebook if my children, family or friends need my attention. Real life people come first before virtual world friends.
And so that is my beginning to a new outlook on how I use my time with Facebook. I want to say that I have many other distractions such as Pinterest and blogs, but I find that at least those distractions provide me with some happiness, and sadly Facebook does not. I do want to limit my time using any internet all together, but thought I would start with Facebook, as I don't feel like I get much from it anyway.
I recently had a few conversations with different friends about the use of Facebook and surprisingly all of my friends agreed with me that for personal reasons, they too do not like the feelings they get from using it. Interesting. It's not just me.
I'd really like to hear what others think about their Facebook use and if they feel that they have a problem with it. I also want to say for the record, that these are just my feelings and that if you find happiness and value from using Facebook, I certainly don't judge you for that. I just know that I have a real life problem (addiction even), and that I need to get a hold of it so that I can spend my time being more happy, more productive and better engaged with the real life relationships that surround me.


  1. Exactly my feelings when I went away on vacation and had no interruption of computers or cell phones. I even rememeber commenting to Josh how horrible it was to see tons of people in beautiful Mexico sitting on the lobby where there was free wi-fi fixated on phones, iPads, and computers.

    We've implemented one day twice a week where there are no electronic devices allowed to be turned on, and like you I am limiting my facebook to nap time or in the evening. I do find it's my main outlet for talking to friends when I am so isolated so I won't give it up but everything in moderation.

    Good for you for recognizing a time stealer and making a positive change.

  2. I think that this was part of the reason I fell away from blogging some... it was becoming more about looking other spaces and trying to measure up. I became addicted to pinterest for a while there and have broken away and made more time for recording memories of our family on our blog and spending more time away from the computer in general.
    Thank you for putting this out there and for sharing your plan of attack on how to manage your online life! :)

  3. Love this! I've said this same thing about facebook! I also find it hard how people are suuuuuper opinionated and then kinda argue. It just gives me bad feelings. I too wake up and check facebook and it can just ruin my day. I like that you gave time limits. I think I'm going to figure out what works for me with that. I wanted to delete it but just can't for all the same reasons as you. When you move a lot its the best way to keep in touch. Bravo for you!

  4. I have the same sentiments as you. Facebook is a great way to connect with family and friends, however if used incorrectly is a HUGE time waster! Why should we get caught up in the virtual world when we are missing the life going on right it front of us.

  5. Seems very sensible. Real people are more important that online personas. I do see the attraction of fb, living so far from a lot of my friends and family. It's lovely to feel connected to them, but I think sometime I ended up feeling less connected and it does make me second guess my choices- would I be happier if I was still living in Ottawa/Kuwait/London/BC... My grandmother always says, "be here, now." Easier said than done. I am concerned for this generation of adolescents who live more in the virtual world that the real one. On the other hand, the virtual world doesn't have pesky housework or my whiny children!


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