Tuesday, April 7, 2009

30 Days Without Facebook

Last week, I instituted a challenge to myself—to stay off of Facebook for 30 days. The razzings have already started from some of my friends, the ones I can see in person. Some people may not care about Facebook, but for twentysomethings like me, it’s an institution. Schedules, party invites, work networking is all done on there.

Part of being a writer is making sure you carve out time to do your writing/editing. Too often we use all of our nifty networking tools to the point of distraction. Checking people’s status and keeping in the loop becomes a habit, where we refresh the page every few hours to see what’s going on, and perhaps doing a few quizzes and apps along the way.

One of the most precious items allotted to me is my free time. I have a full-time job, I sleep, and I have a few hobbies, so balancing time is extremely important to me. I realized last month that I probably waste a good hour over the course of a day doodling on Facebook. I also spent a lot of time playing WoW (World of Warcraft for you non-geeks) and feeling bored. Bored, for crying out loud! What do I have to feel bored about when I have a book I’m editing for hopeful publication?

We so often ramp up our writing only to take so many little detours out of a need for a break that our breaks become distractions, and the distractions cause us to lose focus of our true goals in life. Sure you want to watch those TV shows – but if you watch so much TV that you’re putting your writing away four nights a week, you’ve lost all of that time.

Thinking about how I spend my evenings, I realized I could easily cut out or reduce my distractions and be focused and therefore much happier about how my time was spent, rather than enjoy a few empty hours only to be frustrated at my lack of fulfillment. No matter how much we enjoy things like games or reading writing blogs, they will not leave you with the satisfaction that your time was plumped with activities that gave you something, something that advanced your goals, hopes, and dreams.

Here are the things I cut out/reduced:

1) Reevaluated my blogs and other info sources. I now don’t compulsively check the news every few hours.
2) No Facebook for 30 days, to see if I really miss anything.
3) I retired my raiding spot in WoW (huge time commitment), and I’ve found I don’t miss anything. I still get to talk to my friends, and I’m spending time sunk into my writing worlds.
4) I cut out a lot of TV. I found myself watching old seasons simply because I enjoy them. Darn you, Hulu.
5) Looking at houses and whining about wanting to own one (I’m cursed with bad landlords)

Because of all of this, I not only have more time for my writing, but all of a sudden I have time for more reading. I’ve always read a lot, but this winter I only read 1-2 books a month as opposed to my usual 6-10. Reading is more satisfying than TV for me.

Will I go back to Facebook after the month is up? Yes – I don’t want social annihilation. But I don’t think I’ll be checking it every few hours anymore.


Anonymous said...

The whole thing is letting something like software have power over you. If it's so magnetic that you have to give it a 30 day hiatus, it had way too much power over your life to begin with. Perhaps 30 days away is a little over the top, like an alcoholic trying to quit cold turkey, and you should just enjoy it for what it is...a networking tool you can use to check up on friends once or twice a day.

I guess I just have a little more "need" for it here since I can't link up with my friends the way I could if I were back home. But I won't raze you! Do what you gotta do for you!

ElanaJ said...

Wow, I commend you on your 30 days of facebookless. I went one day without reading blogs and I thought I might die. Good luck!

M. Dunham said...

Elana - Now all I have to do is make sure I don't have some sort of breakdown and e-jump Facebook a few weeks in. LOL.

The weirdest part about it all, hands down, is that every few hours I think "I can check FB - no, CNN - no wait, don't need that either..." That's finally calmed down.

Anonymous said...

I definitely commend your decision to abstain from Facebook for 30 days. There's no way I could do it. I have a compulsive need to know things, and Facebook is definitely a source of things to be known (even if most of them are useless). My self-justification for spending too much time on Facebook, Blogger and Twitter is that I need to be up on social media for career purposes. That's about 75% true; the other reason is that I'm addicted to them. But not MySpace. Screw MySpace.

You must have gained hours to your day, cutting all of those things out! Sometimes I get snooty that I don't watch TV, but I know that I have plenty of time-wasters that fill that same kind of mindlessness.

I'm anxious to see how you're doing after your 30 days. It sounds like an experiment as much as anything. :)

Dave Tex said...

30 days without facebook is a long time. One problem being many plans and invitations are only sent on facebook. Besides that, you probably won't be missing much. I chose not to get cable TV. That way, the only thing I watch is something I download. No reruns. Too much of our time is wasted on things we've already seen.

Keep us posted on your progress.

M. K. Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M. K. Clarke said...

Very good on the Facebook front. I love it (as opposed to MySpace or Twitter), but not the new design layout.I use it to poke someone or to occasionally write postings of me to announce.

Biggest time drainer for me: talk radio. Love it. Despise Obama. I voted for the other guy--who, in rearview, wouldn't've been much better, a fraction perhaps. We won't go there :). But I hear ya: I killed talk radio tonight and got my blog and WIPs writing in progress.

Then again, I'm not an e-perv like you 20-somethings are. :) Best of luck to you, honey. You can do it!

~Missye (who sure doesn't miss the days of electric typewriters and "rabbit-ears" TV!)