Most likely you know someone who has either deleted their Facebook account, or significantly cut down on how much they share on the platform. Whether it's the privacy concerns which perpetually surface or how using it makes people feel worse about themselves, disdain for Facebook is a relatively common thing. Yet, 30 percent of the people on planet Earth use it at least once a month, with most spending 45 minutes a day on social media.
As someone who has greatly reduced the time I spend on Facebook, I've noticed increased productivity at work, being more inclined to use high quality news and opinion websites and apps, and feeling lighter and more positive in general. Still, I haven't completely cut the cord. Why is this so hard? Well, fear of missing out, for one thing. Another factor: sheer laziness. Keeping up-to-date with what's going on with friends and family used to involve making phone calls and spending time with people in person, but Facebook has automated the process.
"How often do you reach out to your friends to ask them how it's going? Or to see if there are any big updates in their lives?" asks founder, writer and podcaster Nat Eliason. "We don't have to put in the work, the information comes to us, and so we've lost the muscles we used to use for staying updated on our social circle."
If spending less time on Facebook is something which appeals to you, I offer some suggestions -- at least in terms of getting your head in the right place (and not worrying about FOMO).
Think back to before Facebook existed
What was the quality of your social life then? Personally, I had roughly the same number of real friends (not mere acquaintances) 20 years ago as I do now. While some of those individuals are no longer what I'd consider close -- because of moving away, dying or whatever other reasons people drift apart -- I've gained other people who have taken their place. And Facebook had nothing to do with it. In reality, going back to school and getting a new job have most influenced who I communicate with and care about. It's because spending time with people in the real world is what makes a real friend. If you want to get scientific about it, some experts say it actually takes 200 hours of hanging out with someone to bond well enough to consider them a close friend.
Find non-Facebook ways to stay in touch
If you're like most people, you only have a few close friends. Honestly, who else do you need to keep tabs on, other than the friends and family members you love? So, instead of putting all your life on display for 200 people you don't really care about, how would it be if you texted a photo to your besties when cools stuff happens? Or, go old school and make an actual phone call to stay in touch. If they really care about you they won't find it an interruption and will appreciate the attention.
Understand that Facebook is like a morally bankrupt person who only wants to profit from you
Eliason points out that everyone should delete Facebook given that the company's entire mission depends on knowing as much about its users as possible. The more it knows, the more targeted their ads can be, the more you'll click on those ads and the more money the company makes. That's why Facebook is highly invested in making sure users are addicted to its service. He puts it in this creepy way:
Imagine, for a moment, that you had a friend with this level of knowledge about you. Someone who knows everywhere you go, what you like, what you fear, what you want, who you hang out with, how happy you are at any given moment. They could be an amazing boon to your life. Or they could be a nightmare. It all depends on what they do with the information, and how well you can trust them with it. Now imagine the friend can use their information about you to make money, say by manipulating your decisions to benefit them. And imagine they're the kind of morally bankrupt person who would take advantage of their friend this way. What would their incentives look like? Since they can make money by manipulating your decisions, they'll try to manipulate your decisions. And since they can better manipulate your decisions by learning more about you, the more they'll want to learn. If they want the greatest success for themselves, they will necessarily have to manipulate you as much as possible and collect as much data on you as possible.
Essentially, he says Facebook's product isn't its platform, it's you and the rest of its billions of users.
Unfollow all your acquaintances
Maybe you don't care about Facebook manipulating you in order to make money and you're not ready to delete your account. You still don't have to subject yourself to posts which are political, bragging or otherwise annoying in nature. When a post comes through which doesn't make you smile or otherwise increase your sense of well-being, click on the three little dots on the top right of a person's post. You can choose to unfollow the person, meaning you'll no longer see their stuff without defriending them.
Get better at befriending people in real life
I've written about this before because the topic of having a real -- not digital -- network of people who care about you is one of the top things that determines a person's quality of life. If you're serious about living your best life you need to have at least a couple of good friends, meaning people you can call if you need help moving, a ride to the airport or emotional support if your world falls apart. If you don't have anyone who fits that description, it's time to figure out why not, and what you can do about it.