The benefits of posting less.
I pretty much abandoned Facebook late last year. Quitting Facebook has become trendy as it’s become apparent that the service is creepy and maybe a little evil. And while there are no shortage of “Why I quit Facebook” blog posts, I felt like I wanted to add my thoughts.
I didn’t leave Facebook because of some sort of protest against their obvious ethical shortcomings and lack of respect for user privacy.
I noted at the start of the year that I felt like I needed to change my relationship with social media. My Facebook departure started as a “think before posting” exercise, reflecting on why I was posting, commenting or liking things before I actually did. And the result was that I started posting less. Posting less meant that I wasn’t popping in to check on responses to my posts. And the fact that I wasn’t in Facebook as much meant that I wasn’t reading as many posts. And then something else happened…
I was happier.
I stopped posting in Facebook all together around the start of the year. Any post you saw from me originated in Instagram. I would occasionally still like or comment on other’s posts if I saw them, but as I transitioned away from posting on Facebook, I saw far fewer posts. I’m pretty sure no one noticed. No one has said anything. My wife is still posting so close friends are still seeing pictures of my family and hearing funny stories.
So why am I happier? I honestly don’t know.
I listened to a podcast this week where Cal Newport discussed his book Digital Minimalism. I haven’t read the book yet, but his argument seems to be that social media is engineered to suck you in, and by opting out of the social media hamster wheel, you’ll be more productive and happier. I think that’s definitely part of it.
I also think part of it is that I don’t have to see the worst of people. People I know routinely post obviously fake things to Facebook. I see ignorance and hate from people that I assumed were good people. But on Facebook, they allow themselves to be different. It’s frustrating to see that hypocrisy and it makes the whole Facebook experience completely miserable.
Even though I’ve deleted the app off my phone, I still visit Facebook every so often to look at my memories from the last 11 years. There are so many great nuggets from my wife and kiddos — comments and pictures that make me happy. I’m currently working on a way to preserve those in a more tangible format.* I also need an account to connect with some groups that only communicate through Facebook. So I can’t completely delete my account yet.
My goal is to stay under 30 minutes of total social media use a day and I’m using Apple’s ScreenTime settings to keep me honest. I still enjoy posting on Instagram occasionally, even if it is owned by Facebook. I use Twitter, but I’m actually starting to limit my Twitter usage, too.** My hope is that I’ll be able to reclaim some of the time that I was spending on social media and channel that energy into other endeavors.
* I will blog about that process here.
** My Twitter posts are actually microblog posts that originate on my own blog and are shared through Micro.Blog and then Twitter.
Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, researcher, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. Follow Bob on Instagram.