Media fasts. They’re all the rage nowadays. We’re all being challenged to take a hard look at our internet usage, and to consider fasting Facebook for a season.
But why would you want to do it? What would convince someone to sign out of facebook for a whole month?
If the very idea is incomprehensible to you, it it’s a good sign that you need to re-evaluate. Maybe you are already aware of some level of addiction to a networking site or your RSS feed, but really have no desire to address the problem. I told you what convinced me to take action. Now I’m going to tell you the benefits I experienced from just a partial-media fast. To tell you what happened to me when I gave up facebook for an entire month…
#1 I discovered more hours in my day!
Facebook wastes time. No one can argue that. Even if you’re a no-nonsense member determined to use Facebook as a tool (and it is that!), it’s inevitable that you’ll be sucked into browsing photos of people you don’t know or reading conversations that have nothing to do with you. Facebook seems designed to distract, to never let you finish a thought or task, with so many links on every page pulling you further and further into its time-sucking, mind numbing, stupor inducing grasp – Ahhhh! “What time did you say it was? How many hours have I been sitting here?” Tell me if that hasn’t happened to you.
Just for a day – Track how much time you spend on facebook. List 3 things you would rather have done with that time.
#2 My brain works better!
I don’t need to cite the studies done on how excess media input negatively affects brain function. I experienced it myself, after just two days off facebook. Instead of cramming my mind with gobs of low-quality input, %75 of which was irrelevant, I had room to focus on stuff that was important to me. I suddenly felt my creativity increase and also noticed improved thought retention. In other words, I didn’t feel as scatterbrained. I remembered something I wanted to tell Jeremy without having to write it down. I felt sane. Think about it – every time you scroll through your news feed, you mentally dump a large percentage of the info ’cause it’s of no interest to you – this is like giving your brain an exercise in forgetfulness. That’s a poor use of the brain God gave you.
Do this test – scroll through your news feed and take a survey of all the the news that is actually relevant or of personal interest to you. Take it a step further and judge how much content actually enhanced your relationship with God or inspired your unique calling or passion.
#3 I enjoyed better fellowship!
I don’t even think you can call interaction on facebook ‘fellowship’. If you do, you have to admit it’s poor quality interaction. No facial expressions, body language, tone of voice. Comments and IM are short, clipped forms of communication. When I was off facebook I was forced to use other forms of communication to keep up with my friends. I emailed, and – gasp! – even picked up the phone and called someone! This led to some great email exchanges and a few memorable phone conversations I would have missed entirely if I had just been browsing my feed and ‘liking’ these friends’ statuses.
This week – Choose one of your facebook friends that you have an email or phone number for (or live within driving distance!) and make the effort to contact them on a more personal level. See what kind of fun and fellowship ensues!
#4 I Enjoyed Higher-Quality Input.
It’s so important to asses the input we have in our lives – what we eat, listen to, read – it all affects our bodies and our minds. My time off facebook allowed me to explore some other sites online that fed me spiritually, inspired me, and instructed me better than an hour on facebook ever has. I’m not saying there’s not good stuff on facebook. There is. But I’m finding a higher concentration of higher-quality content on some of the blogs I’ve discovered lately. I need quality input. I need inspiration for how to survive motherhood with three little ones. I need new recipes for feeding my family well. I need encouragement to make time for what is important to me. Facebook just isn’t doing that for me, people.
Take a trip – go to a really popular blog in a niche you enjoy. Take the time to check out the links the author recommends. Compare the enjoyment and input you receive from checking out these links to an hour browsing facebook.
Fasting Facebook changed my life.
It gave me more time to pursue activities and friendships that were important to me. It cleared my mind allowing me to focus so I could figure out what those important things were. It opened my eyes to everything I was missing out on by wasting time on low-quality input. It made me determined to be intentional about where I go and what I do online, and as a result have enjoyed some really rich content and life-changing input in the past few months.
(this post was written when I was using Facebook only as a personal outlet. To learn about my strategies for using Facebook for my business, check out this post.)
Cindy La Ferle says
I totally agree! I’ve taken several breaks from Facebook, and I always feel so much healthier when I am Facebook-free for a few weeks. There’s a lot of negativity on FB, too, and engaging in it for too many hours is like watching too much bad news on TV — or junk TV. It’s a lot of white-noise, constant jabbering, and you note, much of it is irrelevant and it wastes time. No wonder we feel a sense of release — and increased mental health — when we disengage from it!
Katie @ Imperfect People says
It was taking more than it was giving. Great line and I pray we are all more mindful of taking a break when that happens
Katie @ Imperfect People says
This is great stuff! I usuallyntake Sunday's off of social media. A social media day of rest I suppose. I love that u said it was taking more than it was giving. I will be more mindful of making sure that doesn't happen. Thanks for this!
Wow, Traci – thanks for your ideas on managing and making the most of facebook. I'm inspired by how you use it, and know that I always appreciate when you stop by my wall.
Georgia, love the 'media de-tox' concept. I definitely feel the need to detox occasionally.
Georgia M says
That was a great idea about the “Face book fasting” I could not agree more. I am new to blogging but I am trying to de-tox from internet multimedia overload and I appreciate your suggestion 🙂
I am a person that would rather do crafts than spend time on the net like that. Face book is a fast forward mildless 'fast food” concept of communication and I can not agree more
Good Morning! When I media fasted I remember saying that I would never even bother with facebook again and sometimes I think I should have just stayed away. I've noticed how much better my facebook time has been since I only post from my phone though… and other internet too.. it keeps me from wandering too far on FB, and the same goes for my blog reading, and other time on the internet.. the limited screen and functionality of it definitely keeps me restrained, lol! But it does allow me the ability to do my very favorite thing on fb, and that's leave a note on someone's wall… I know that it can seem impersonal but I remember when I was working how much I'd love it when a coworker would stop by my desk and leave a post-it note to say hello or to have a great day, and I can leave ten digital “post-it notes” in just a few minutes which really fits into my schedule. You're right, it doesn't nearly replace or maintain a “real life” relationship but it can still be an encouragement to someone and bring a smile to their day.
I thought about trimming down my friends list or hiding even more people the other day but it's hard because a few times a week I go through my news feed and take the time to pray for each person who shows up on the first page or second even, sometimes just a general prayer and sometimes something specific to what they've posted about.. and I can't imagine wanting to “cut” anyone off my prayer list. So I need to schedule my time and keep it focused I think.
It's SO true Trina! And I have enjoyed the calls way more than the chats! It in the past when I have been “off facebook” I too have noticed a difference in my sanity and brain! 🙂 Pondering what to do now… thanks girl! 😉 Love you <3
I haven't been on FB for about two months now. I haven't been “fasting” on purpose really – I've just been feeling better and not spending as much time resting in bed with my laptop. In the back of my mind though I know that I could easily “blow” several hours looking at updates from people I have no real relationship with or haven't seen since grade school. 🙂 So…I'm staying off for now. Thanks for giving me a few more compelling reasons to keep my resolve.