YOu  shall not pass

Locking myself out of Facebook

Tonight, I locked myself out of my own Facebook account. Here’s how it went:

  • Yesterday before I went to bed, pretty much out of curiosity, I turned on 2-factor authentication in my Facebook settings. My theory was that by causing me to find my phone and enter a code, I’d think really hard about how important visting Facebook at that moment really was to me.
  • This morning, I logged in to Facebook, using the code sent to me on my phone. Then I logged out. The same this afternoon, and later this evening. It was rather refreshing to not have the constant temptation to pull up Facebook — knowing that I’d have to fondle with the hassle of entering the SMS code every time I tried to log-in seemed to be working.
  • Then, this evening, I tried logging in again. I never got the code. I tried again, no dice. After poking around a little bit, I determined that Facebook had sent too many text messages and locked my account for security purposes.

I sat in shock for a moment. I tried again a few minutes later. Then a few hours later. Nope.

I hadn’t figured this would happen —when you log in from a new device, you’re given an option to add that browser to your “Trusted Browser” list so you don’t have to go through the hassle of entering a code again. Because my purposes were not security, I checked the “No” checkbox every time. And I’m really glad I did.

On one hand, I really value the connections Facebook has brought me. I’m now real friends with real people I met through Facebook. But on the other I’ve realized that in order to keep building I need to stay focused — and not on my virtual facsimiles of friends. Facebook was designed for addiction — after all, they don’t make money if people don’t use it, so it’s been a long struggle to figure out the best way to curb usage: I can’t disable my account — it’s used in a lot of places to log-in to stuff, I’m a member of some Facebook Groups that I really value, and I manage Facebook Pages and sometimes build Facebook Apps. So I’m stuck. Well, was stuck. Until I locked myself out of my own Facebook account. Now I’m stuck wondering when I’ll be able to log-in to Facebook again (I assume sometime tomorrow, but I’m not sure I really care.)

Moving forward, I think it’s important that we build more social tools that integrate with our lifestyles and not against them or “in addition to” them. I don’t want another social network. But I want the data and information and interaction I get from sites like Facebook and Twitter, without the constant barrage of interruptions.

Of course, as a millennial, I’ve never really lived in a world without [Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc]. And sometimes I really wish I could get away from it all. But I’ve built so much of life around “things that happen online” that I’m not sure I could handle it. These social networks are wonderful — I’m not sure I would enjoy living in a world without them as much as I enjoy living in a world with them — but they should augment our real-world lives, not attempt to intrude on or replace them. And, maybe, just maybe, telling us to take a break and join the real world once and a while could be a feature, not a bug.