What happened in the 1 week I didn’t use social networks

TL;DR;

Getting rid of habits is hard, but I survived, I’m feeling better, the iPhone battery lasts longer, I accomplished a lot of things while not wasting time on Facebook or Reddit.

Facebook sent me some automatic emails in order to lure me in, they’re probably scared as hell to lose a very active user.

Guess what? I stayed in the loop anyway, re-discovering websites and news source I loved in the past and then forgot.

LONG VERSION

I’ve spent the last week without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Youtube and more in general social networks.

I didn’t go completely offline. My job (and my life) don’t allow it. What am I still using?

  • WhatsApp? Telegram? YES
  • Email? YES
  • Medium? YES
  • Slack? YES
  • Etc…

It was my first experiment in this way, it could look very mild… You know, I don’t care. It was driven by increasing privacy concerns, the need to “detox” and figure out where my sources of information are going, how facebook & co. distract part of my time, how my daily routine is affected by these websites, etc…

Here’s a little diary of my experience.


DAY -1 (Monday)

I’ve removed all the Facebook, Twitter, etc… apps from my iPhone. The mobile websites suck, so I’m not really eager to visit them, plus, no notifications!

On my Macs I’ve installed Self Control to block these websites:

SelfControl app on my Mac

As I told, I’m not blocking everything, it’s stupid, I don’t want/I can’t go back to 1950.

DAY 0 (Tuesday)

Started the morning by browsing emails, Medium and TechMeme.com. Colleagues and friends are pissing me off by saying “You should block this, you shouldn’t block that”. It’s just an experiment, so I really don’t care.

Once in the office I’ve set Self Control to block the websites in the list above for 10 hours, so even if I go to Facebook or Reddit by chance, it’s blocked. ;)

I’ve started using my Kindle again to avoid the “look at your smartphone while commuting” thing. First book I’m reading: Doctor Sleep.

My good old Kindle 4th gen.

I still automatically open a new tab and type “facebook.com”, gladly Self Control blocks every “automatic” attempt.

You should read “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” to understand mechanism sites like facebook use to “hook” you.

I’ve created a gmail label “SOCIALCHECK” for emails I need to check, but with links to blocked websites. After the experiment I’ll go back to these emails, I hope there will not be hundreds of them.

One of the emails I need to check

I’ve spent the evening with my wife & playing Wolfenstein on my PS4.

DAY 1 (Wednesday)

Ok. Same “morning routine” as yesterday:

  • Breakfast
  • Email
  • News / Medium

I’ve read a bit on my Kindle while commuting, also today I activated Self Control as soon as I arrived in the office. Somebody started following this blog. Did they probably miss me? I don’t think so :P

I should have closed my Facebook board and removed the possibility to tag me while I’m “away”. Now I simply can’t :P

I still open new browser tabs and try to type faceb…., redd… or twitt… almost automatically when I have some free time. :D

Wise XKCD.com comic

My iPhone battery lasts longer.

DAY 2 (Thursday)

This morning I’ve found some emails from Facebook saying “X commented on your photo”, “Y has updated his profile…”. Probably they miss me. I don’t remember this kind of email from Facebook, probably at the very beginning, for sure I didn’t receive any of it in the last 3 years. I’ve checked my email archive.

An email from Facebook

They’re more afraid than me to lose connection. I’ve unsubscribed from these emails.

Reddit & Twitter are quite, by the way. I’m back to Flipboard.

Today I’m on vacation. I have a lot of things to do, but it’s the first day of this experiment I’m 100% at home.

Just finished Wolfenstein: New Order. I’ve started playing Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

DAY 3 (Friday)

No more mails from Facebook as I said yesterday. I’ve found out I’m more productive in general. As a software developer I have a lot of “dead moments” during my job…

It’s compiling!!!

I usually open a tab and check Facebook while “It’s compiling”. Now it’s different: sometimes I watch it compile, sometimes I read emails, sometimes I take a little walk away from my desk…

Big challenge for the weekend and Monday morning: I forgot my Kindle at work… :-(

DAY 4 (Saturday)

I had to do so much “fun” cleaning the house I had no time to think about the experiment I’m running.

Had a pizza with some friends, it was fun. Strangely enough I’ve noticed that smartphones were not omnipresent on the table.

Note to self: blocking Facebook makes also the websites where I use Facebook login inaccessible. If I want to get rid of Facebook completely some day (it might happen, who knows), I also need to get rid of Facebook login.

DAY 5 (Sunday)

Started the day very slow, I sat at the computer and wrote some content for a sideproject I’m trying to finish, I’ve slept a lot… A typical lazy Sunday.

DAY 6 (Monday)

Back to work. My Kindle was here all the time. I was thinking about how I’m still in the loop after all these days without Facebook & Twitter.

I have a good overview of the news around me, probably I’m missing some details about my friends’ weekend, but all the important news came to me anyway.

What about digg.com? Yes, THAT DIGG. The “Long reads” section is full of good things.

DAY 7 (Tuesday)

Last day, at home also today. Minor plumbing problems (cit.). Tomorrow I’ll indulge again in social networks. I don’t need Self Control anymore, looks like I got rid of the habit of opening new browser tabs and type “facebook.com”.

It took longer than expected.

I received an email from Instagram. Also in this case it’s the first time I’m getting an email like this.

Instagram emails

I will install Instagram and Twitter again on my iPhone, but there’s no way for Facebook and Facebook Messenger to get back on my smartphone again.

Why? Because this way I can easily limit access to it, making every visit a legit and voluntary act and not an automatic one.

DAY 7+1 (Wednesday)

Here are the notifications that were waiting for me.

Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram notifications waiting for me.

You know what. I didn’t miss anything interesting or game-changing. I’ve read all the 40+ Facebook notifications looking for something new or at least interesting.

And…

Nothing. This Facebook is really overrated.

Final thoughts: this week of “social detox” really changed my mind. I’ll look at Facebook & co. with a different mindset.

I’m now, again, the owner of my social interactions over the Internet.

Questions? Leave a comment. This post will also be published on my blog https://blog.napolux.com