The morning after I wrote my last post about being exposed to too much news, I decided to try removing the Facebook app from my phone. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, prompted by a few death announcements in my social circle on top to all the difficult world news we’re dealing with nowadays.
The fact that I get “caught up” in Facebook, compulsively cycling through my newsfeed and notifications, has been bothering me for a while. Time flies by and I’m still on Facebook.
Where this happens most is on my phone, particularly because I can carry it around all over the place the easiest. I will stand up and leave the computer. I will leave the iPad lying around somewhere. But the phone is always with me.
And the Facebook app is there, on my home screen, staring at me each time I turn on my phone for anything. And I get lost inside.
As you know if you’ve been following me for some time, I’m super interested in stuff like procrastination, change, habits. And I probably have already mentioned an idea I found clearly expressed on James Clear’s blog: environment is key in shaping our habits. If I think about my “Facebook habit”, clearly the fact that this app is so prominently displayed on my screen is encouraging it.
I remember one step of Note to Self’s “Bored and Brilliant” challenge was to delete your favorite app from your phone for a day. I didn’t like the idea. I preferred to think that I could have the discipline not to check my phone compulsively. And I can. But the problem is when I go to my phone for something else, and end up on Facebook instead — or afterwards.
Anyway. I decided to remove the app for the day, to give myself some space away from all the news. I can still check Facebook on my iPad or computer — or even in the browser — but it’s not staring at me each time I pick up my phone anymore.
Quite fast, I replaced it with the Facebook Groups app. I love Facebook Groups and am active in quite a few of them. They are not saturated with world news or people dying. They are not as active as my newsfeed, and therefore don’t lead to as much compulsive reloading. I also unearthed the Pages app so I could post to my pages. And I use Messenger, of course.
I realised that doing this gave me a breather. So I didn’t reinstall the app the next day. Or the next. It’s been nearly a week now, and I might keep things like this. I’ve been through the browser interface a few times, but it’s less seamless than the app, and so you don’t get “sucked in” as much.
Let me make it clear: this is absolutely not about “quitting Facebook” or anything like that. It is about “less compulsion”. About helping myself spend my time with more decision, less automation. It’s funny, I never thought I would do this. Had you asked me 10 days ago I would have said it was a silly idea. Or that I didn’t want to “cut the cord” like that. And I might roll this change back. But just now, I’m finding that being able to take a few steps back from my “TV 2.0” is really helpful.