A few days without facebook products as a Millenial
It took me a while to write this article, as I can be a bit of a procrastinator. But here we are, this is what I experienced when I deleted both facebook and messenger form my phone and tablet.
It was not a sudden idea of mine to spend a few days without facebook, rather a long time desire which I never got around to fulfill. The thing is, every time I wanted to start (or rather, stop) I started to generate excuses, much like when I’m procrastinating, except, it wasn’t because the task seemed too big to handle, or too intimidateing, it was because I always had an event to organise, a big online conversation to participate in, or just something “important” that was happening on facebook, that I just couldn’t miss, not that week.
In one sentence. I was experiencing FOMO, without knowing about it.
One day though, after I spent several hours on my news feed and chatting with various people on messenger, I finally decided to make an experiment.
For the first part of it, I decided to keep using facebook and messenger for a week and monitor my usage to create an image of how much time do I really spend in the ecosystem of facebook. I installed apps on my mac, iPad and phone that could log the times. I also installed an app on my phone to keep track of all the call times and SMS messages.
The second part was to delete every facebook related app’s from my devices and keep monitoring my phone and SMS usage, along with making small observations and writing them down in a doc.
The first week.
The FOMO started early. I didn’t even deleted facebook yet, but I started to wonder, how will my friends know how to reach me when I do.?
I spent a whole morning researching chatbots, as I thought this was the way to go. I just make a simple chatbot to automate an answer, “You can reach me on my email or cell.”. It turns out, there is no elegant solution for this, as you can’t make a chatbot for a personal facebook profile. I didn’t want to post it on my wall either, as I wasn’t that desperate. Only after arriving at this conclusion did I realise how I almost cheated on my voluntary experiment. After this I also decided not to download any other chat application (e.g. Whatsapp or Viber) as ultimately I would have deleted messenger for nothing then.
I spent the week as I normally would, and here is what I got.:
I spent more time on messenger, than on facebook.
Facebook seemed to take up more of my time if I didn’t have people to talk to on messenger, which is logical, and I would be concerned to see otherwise.
All in all, 10 hours of my week goes to facebook and messenger. 4 of which I spend on facebook and the other 6 with messenger.
The second week.
I sent out a few SMS messages to my family and really close friends, to let them know, they couldn’t reach me on facebook. I didn’t count this as cheating, as I really kept it under a reasonable amount of people, it was so that they won’t worry.
After that, I’m not gonna lie, the first few hours were hard. I constantly found myself wanting to message someone about something that I forgot in about 2 or 3 minutes, so you can guess how important those things must have been.
The interesting part came after this initial frustration.
I felt liberated.
It was like when you stop feeling responsible for something, or you finally pass an exam and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
I didn’t really miss facebook actually, but I missed messenger, as even though I felt more present in the moment, and I enjoyed that, I still had a lot of thought that I wanted to share with some of my best friends.
The first night I went out with my friends we talked about what I’m doing, and interestingly they said that it was hard for them too, not being able to share little details about their days with me. Indirectly, I involved them in my experiment too.
The first hard part came the second night out. I realised, that when I meet someone new, one of the things I do when we say goodbye, is ask to connect with them on facebook, so we can keep the conversation going even after we go our own way. This was not an option anymore. I do realise I could just ask for the person’s phone number, but rarely do I meet someone that I’m so passionate about, to call them later.
After a few days, I realised that I got accustomed to the lack of facebook and messenger, but it seemed like I wasn’t the only one.
Facebook started to send me my notifications via email, even though it never did before. I started to receive tags, message counts and other information about my account, which made my days a little harder. I could just spam the sender, but I was too curious, and I thought it couldn’t hurt.
After a few days, I felt more socially energetic. I started to talk more and more to other people around me, both in my workplace and in my every day life. I couldn’t talk to someone on my phone that I’m 100% comfortable with, so I had to make that conversation with someone that was available physically, even if I didn’t know them that well. It was very refreshing, and it should be the norm.
All in all, the second week went by pretty fast.
I downloaded facebook again.
The fist day after my experiment, I downloaded facebook and messenger on my phone, but I didn’t open them just yet.
I spent my morning calmly, doing the morning chores, getting ready for work.
I opened messenger only when I got on the tram to work, and I don’t even know when I checked facebook first.
When I looked at my call and SMS log I was surprised, as it was a mixed bag.
I did send a lot more SMS than before (like a lot.), but I didn’t talk on the phone more, it was nearly the same amount.
I encourage everyone to try this little experiment themself, as it is way different to experience this than read about it. I’m planning to repeat it in the near future, not for the experiment sake, but for the experiences I got.
It really did gave me a new perspective, and made it easier to develop my social skills, by forcing me to engage with people I’m not accustomed to.