What I Learned From 30 Days Off Facebook

What happens when you remove your phone as a lens to view the world?

Again, I found myself scrolling the Facebook newsfeed. I did have someone I wanted to reach out to, but somewhere between beginning to type the URL “facebook.com” and searching for this person’s profile, I got lost in the newsfeed. Ten minutes down the drain. Ugh.It felt like that happened too much during my work week.

Beyond that frustration, I felt a well of creativity within and that I couldn’t access. A swirl of other people’s ideas accumulated like a fog between my conscious mind and the jewels of creation waiting to be birthed. With each scroll down the newsfeed and moment of engagement in the dozens of groups, each idea I read pushed me further away from my innate creativity.

After nearly two months of intense creation of bringing two major ideas to life, I was spent. Feeling creatively numb and worn down by too many days in front of my computer, I had a revelation.

Spend less time on my computer.

A light bulb went off — quit Facebook for a month.

I felt like a well of time was wasted on that iconic blue and grey site. Excitedly, I asked a friend of mine to change my password so I couldn’t log in.

No messages, no notifications, no friend requests… also, no access to my large network. Oh well. I had momentarily tasted the freedom after going through a thought experiment where I visualized not logging on for a month and I was hooked on the idea.

My friend was so thrilled that she joined me for the month — each of us become the other’s password keeper.

Questions swirled around me…

Would I want to login? Would it be hard to be off of it? What would it be like to get into my community more? Would this really change my life?

Many of these questions were quickly answered.

After contemplating logging on for the first 3 days into my detox, I never had the inclination again. This was probably due to the fact it wasn’t an option, but in 3 days I already loved my life more.

I envisioned connecting with someone I met in the community when I first moved to Boulder, CO. Lo and behold, he walked through the door of a coffee shop I rarely visit while I was waiting for a hair appointment to begin.

I was invited to coach at and attend an amazing event in San Francisco called the Start Conference. It was a whole weekend of people bringing their passion projects to life.

Through some random connections, I was introduced to the Vice President of Watson University — a small school in Boulder that takes 15–20 entrepreneurial students per year whose ideas are changing the world.

That same day, they had an event and I met several bright, young minds. Ideas morphing, growing and bouncing off one another, I knew it. This is why I was off of Facebook.

As momentum built, I found myself excitedly talking to people about my social media detox. The conversation was fascinating and I began to hear several themes about peers’ challenges with social media:

  • “I find myself comparing myself to other people in my newsfeed.”
  • “I go on to find something specific and 10 minutes later, I’m scrolling my newsfeed wondering why I’m even on Facebook.”
  • “I have a habit of typing fa… in my internet browser when I’m bored — it’s I do it without even thinking about it!”
  • “I use social media as a way to numb out and avoid doing things that make me uncomfortable.”
  • “When I see what other people are doing, I often feel bad about myself.”
  • “Social media is so overwhelming for me right now.”
  • “It’s really been a distraction lately and I feel like it’s wasting my time.”

These were thoughts I had in the past — awarenesses coming to the surface — and I realized this is a challenge that many of us face. We want to be connected and these sites can also be a vortex. Our energy gets sucked in before we know how to focus it or what to focus it on.

So what did I learn?

  1. Taking a detox is fun

Instantly, I tapped into a newfound freedom. Taking Facebook off my list of things to do everyday was a relief. There was less distraction in my life, especially of the digital kind. It felt awesome.

2. I found my own voice and creativity again

I created a journal that captures all the things that remind me of who I am when I’m at my best. I thought more about what I love and what I want to create — outside of knowing the things everyone else is doing.

3. I don’t feel like there is extraneous noise in my life

Ahhhhh, the sweet sound of silence. Less dings. Less notifications. The quiet is more quiet. I find myself leaving my phone at home more. There’s no longer a compulsive feeling to check and see what’s going on in the online world. There’s a whole lot more of reaching out to friends and seeing who is free for tea or a walk at the local park.

4. Getting out in person was meaningful and fulfilling for me and I’m committed to keep doing it

A stark contrast to the hours I felt like I wasted on social media, my time connecting in person with new people felt meaningful. I talked about things that mattered to me, shared ideas in a generative way, gave feedback and input on other people’s ideas. It was fun. And what a surprise, being in person is, well, more personal.

5. I feel more joyful and on purpose than I did before I went off social media

I feel a deep inner trust about how my life is unfolding. There’s no longer a sense of anxiety around connecting with the “right” people online or being seen in a certain publication. I am cultivating the trust that “all is unfolding in the way it needs to.”

6. Your social media is your responsibility

I’ve been informally interviewing people about how they use social media in a way that works for them. I met someone who keeps her friends list under 100 and for her to accept your friend request you have to “share pictures of cute babies that I want to look at.” Awesome. Bottom line, we all find different ways to interact with the huge online spaces of social media networks. The key is finding out what works for you.

After digging into this more, I found that if you use Chrome, you can install a newsfeed blocker that also shows an inspirational quote in lieu of the newsfeed when you log on.

With this 30 day detox behind me, I’ve found perspective, empowerment and choice.

On Sunday, my friend gave my password back. I haven’t been tempted to login.

I took this detox and turned it into a free 2-week self-guided course. If you’re interested in doing the FB Detox — try it here.


Originally published at www.justinesparks.com on November 3, 2015.