Lean Facebook

Facebook is a great tool for connecting with far-away friends and acquaintances. It can also lend itself quite easily to superficiality:

  1. voyeurism without connectivity,
  2. exhibitionism, and
  3. a facade of the “newsworthy” things

The latter is usually comprised of the highlights and occasionally a life-altering lowlight that we are essentially asking prayer (or warm thoughts) for, but not much of the mundane in-between. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because

a) most of us don’t want to be inundated with the minutest details of our friends’ lives, and

b) most of us don’t like our “dirty laundry” or that of others to be constantly aired out online.

The issue is, because Facebook is mostly a conglomeration of good times and best moments of hundreds if not thousands of friends on the newsfeed, it can be very easy to believe that one’s own life pales in comparison to everybody else’s.

Two responses to this:

  • Your life doesn’t pale in comparison.
  • If it feels like it does, it is perfectly fine to expose yourself to less of facebook’s influence.

Everyone has bad moments, days, weeks, years. Almost everyone feels a tiny bit insecure about something in their life, or a tiny bit of longing for what someone else has or gets to experience. We have to consciously remind ourselves that everyone else’s life isn’t as picture perfect as it seems, and our own life isn’t as lame as we fear it is.

Even if you know that, sometimes it is difficult to shake that internal feeling. So it can be helpful to make some external behavioral adjustments, like cutting down the amount of time you spend under the influence of Facebook if it makes you feel shitty about yourself.

This plays out differently for everyone. I first tried taking the Facebook app off my phone’s home screen and put it instead in a folder on page 2 which made it slightly less accessible. That decreased my number of absent-minded clicks on Facebook for a couple of weeks, but what really helped was taking the app off my phone altogether. That means I only check my Facebook when I make a deliberate decision to turn on my home computer, which happens to only be once every few days. That might not work for those of us who do a lot of our work from our home computer. When I worked from home, I removed Facebook from my bookmarks bar so it required a more thoughtful decision rather than an automatic compulsion to visit the site.

If you’re worried that important posts of people you care about will get lost among the hundreds/thousands of posts you miss while you’re away, try the following:

  • keep in contact with the most important people via phone so you continually receive (and give) the most important updates
  • filter through your newsfeed by unfollowing the people who clog it up, or unfriend the people you’ve never actually been real-life friends with
  • hide the people you don’t know but whose posts your friends like or comment on, which annoyingly clogs the newsfeed

Once Facebook stops being a tool for connectivity and starts being a trap of comparison, judgmentalism, or depression, do yourself a favor by cutting back. You’re an amazing person, and if you don’t realize it, or just have a hard time remembering it, maybe with Facebook it’s time to “go lean.”