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Dislike Graffiti by zeevveez is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Lately I’ve been feeling that Facebook does more harm than good. So as an experiment, I did a “NO Facebook Challenge” for two weeks. I completely stopped using it. No checking, no posting, and no messaging.

Before this challenge, I was addicted. I had been aimlessly checking my Facebook feed and messenger almost every day, especially when I didn’t feel like working. Plus, I occasionally posted something.

The results of this challenge were amazing. I was less distracted, and got more things done. I didn’t have any negative emotions such as jealousy, anger or anxiety, and my mind felt more tranquil. I cared less about what other people thought of me, and I was more confident.

There are two reasons that Facebook harms us. First, the insufferable posts people make. Everyday, there is a popularity contest on Facebook, and people who get lots of likes win. This is why we see a bunch of narcissistic, attention-craving and jealousy-inducing posts[1]. These somewhat hedonistic people are competing against each other to show off the most glorious parts of their life. Facebook tricks us to play their game. Just like real life, we compare our lives with others, and we feel jealous, angry or anxious about things that just don’t matter.

Second is our automatic reaction to our posts. We are anxious about how many likes we can get. We might not think about it for a long time, but it stays in our mind, which leads to an anxiety that we cannot easily control. Even useful posts don’t contribute to our happiness because people are usually reactive but not thoughtful. We have a short attention span on Facebook, and thus useful posts are buried in pictures. This is why pictures get lots of likes.

Facebook is good for hedonists who pursue pleasure. I actually enjoyed getting a positive reaction on Facebook. But I don’t need pleasure that much; what I really need is happiness. I see pleasure and happiness differently. Happiness is a peaceful state of mind where tranquility and calmness exist. It’s like the sound of a stream and the flickering of a fire. In contrast, pleasure is short-term gratification that we enjoy when we have a party, find out that someone likes us, laugh at jokes, go traveling, eat delicious foods, go shopping, watch movies, and so on. It’s sex without love. Pleasure doesn’t make my life better in the long term, whereas happiness significantly, deeply and sustainably improves my life. Facebook is designed for people who pursue pleasure.

I was aware of the negativity of Facebook before I undertook this challenge. Therefore, I made a rule to check Facebook for only 10 minutes a day a while ago. In addition to 10 minutes a day checking, I still posted on Facebook and used the messenger app. Still, my life was better simply because I was spending less time clicking aimlessly on Facebook. However, looking back, I still felt distracted, tense, and anxious. This was because I had to deal with emotional distraction even when I was not checking. When I checked Facebook after two weeks, I felt like it left something in my brain even a while after I checked it. It stays in our brain and becomes a distraction.

Moreover, I almost subconsciously felt a sense of obligation to check it, but there was no obligation or whatsoever.

After my experiment, I realized that there is nothing important on Facebook. We don’t have to see our friends’ posts and comment on them to maintain our relationship with them, we should not passively consume information on the Facebook feed, and there are other ways to proactively get the information we want.

We won’t miss Facebook events; usually your friend will message you about private events, and you can get information about other events on Meetup or Eventbrite. I can still share my thoughts on my personal blog, Medium, or Twitter, and be useful to others.

The biggest takeaway of this challenge was that I am convinced that I don’t need it. Not using Facebook for two weeks didn’t cause any trouble at all. You might realize that you occasionally need to check the messenger to build a good relationship with your friends, just like I did, but I’m certain that I need nothing from Facebook other than that, and you might feel the same way. It’s liberating.

The trick was to completely stop using it. No checking, no posting, and no messaging. This allowed me to reveal what’s really important.

If you want to take this challenge, I strongly recommend that you ignore Facebook completely so that you will become convinced that you don’t need it in your life.

Here are some tools you can use to help in your challenge. You can block Facebook with a browser extension in Firefox, Safari and Chrome. You can use a restriction setting to block it on your iPhone Safari (maybe in Android too?). Don’t forget to uninstall all the Facebook and Messenger apps on your smartphone, tablet and laptop. :)

Notes

[1] Urban, Tim. (07/07/2013). 7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook. Wait But Why. Available at: http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/07/7-ways-to-be-insufferable-on-facebook.html