Facebook and FOFOMO

I pulled the plug on my Facebook a couple months ago, and haven’t looked back.

I’ve talked about how much of a time-waster Facebook is in the past, but my usage was getting out of control.

I wasn’t using it because I was homesick. I wasn’t using it because I had nothing better to do. I wasn’t using it to even communicate.

Instead of using it to add value to my life, I let it do the opposite: I was using it to compare myself to the Facebook-version of my friends and acquaintances.

I always felt worse after visiting Facebook.

Why did it take so long to deactivate?

The excitement of Facebook really started wearing off after college three years ago. I realized that 90% of my Facebook friends were people I had no need to keep in touch with, personally or professionally.

I started unfriending and unfollowing people left and right. But did that stop me from stalking old crushes wedding photos? Nope.

It didn’t stop me from reading aggravating statuses (on purpose) and seeking out successful acquaintances, both which always made me feel bad. I was addicted to comparing myself with people on the internet.

We’ve all heard of FOMO, right? In hindsight, what was stopping me from deactivating my Facebook was actually FOFOMO.

What is FOFOMO?

The Fear of “The Fear of Missing Out” is what I’ve been calling my hesitation to quit Facebook.

I know it’s silly, but I was more afraid of how FOMO would affect me than I actually turned out to be afraid of missing out. I was anxious about how future me would deal with the anxiety of missing out on social updates.

Our generation has now been using “FOMO” as a new form of guilt or peer pressure. If you’re not where everyone else is, you should be afraid that they’re all hanging out without you.

If you’re not on Facebook, then how will you know your friends got engaged or started new jobs? If you subscribe to FOMO and let it consume you, you should be ashamed to have to ask.

For our generation, it’s unacceptable to purposely opt-out of what’s going on. It’s not “normal”.

I was afraid of the guilt and embarrassment that would come with ignoring my FOMO.

What has changed without Facebook?

My fear of FOMO turned out to be unwarranted. It turns out that I haven’t been afraid of missing out. I haven’t even missed out on anything important.

In fact, I’ve gained so much more now that I’m Facebook-free:

  • I (literally) have added hours of valuable time to each week. This positive change happened immediately.
  • I have fewer digital people/distractions in my life now, and my time online feels a lot less complicated.
  • I feel kinder towards people in general. What ever happened to that girl who made fun of me in second grade? I can’t go to her profile anymore and see if she’s complaining or doing well for herself (both of which could frustrate me). Instead, I send a silent good wish her way and move on with my day.

You can quit too

The most difficult part is finally deciding to just do it. There are a few steps that can help you get there!

  1. Start unfollowing and unfriending people. Ask yourself these questions to decide what to do with each friend: Does this person need to read my updates or see my pictures? If they don’t, unfriend them. Do you need to read this person’s updates or see their pictures (but you still want to keep an online relationship with them)? If you don’t, unfollow them.
  2. Download all the information and pictures from your profile. It makes it easier to shut it all down.
  3. Try deactivating your account temporarily – you can set it to auto-reactivate after a certain number of days, which might help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
  4. Open up new avenues with new purposes. I’ve started texting and calling my friends more, and I’m inching back in to Twitter. I’m interested in meeting like-minded simple living people , so say hello!
  5. Don’t announce it. I wanted to share my email or my Twitter profile with a little “seeya” announcement, but I realized that allowing myself to engage with people before leaving Facebook was as dangerous as having just one more drink. It’s best to tell your closest friends personally and then deactivate your account without posting a word about it.

How do you use Facebook? Is it a positive or negative tool in your life?

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Why I’m Curating my Facebook Feed

One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced as I try to simplify and remove unwanted distractions from my life has been the removal of intangible distractions. I work full time and then some behind a computer screen, so it’s difficult not to get entirely caught up in the digital world.

But sometimes, you’ve got to outsmart yourself.

I’ve thought hard and often about deactivating my Facebook page, but can’t bring myself to do it. It’s such a great way to stay connected to friends and family who I would otherwise not regularly communicate with. I get to see pictures of my (newly inherited) nephews more regularly than I’m actually able to see them in person. I’m able to check in on my little brother in South Carolina without letting him know that I’m checking in (what could be less cool than a pestering older sister?)

But in order to do that, I have to wade through some…well, junk. And some not junk – I’ve started to unfollow people for some expected and unexpected reasons.

There’s a 90% chance I’m not following your updates.

And it’s not because I hate you or that I no longer want to be your friend. It’s because I want to still have the option of checking in on you without hearing from you every day. You’re probably a friendly connection I’ve made along the way and I still love having the opportunity of being in touch with you, but I don’t need to read details of your life every day. Here’s my criteria for unfollowing:

  • Mundane updates
  • Dramatic or cryptic updates
  • Automatic updates from applications. NO. I’ve learned to stay away from Candy Crush, and I don’t need that temptation again.
  • Selfies on selfies on selfies.

Here’s the one that takes people off guard: I unfollow people who have beautiful pictures of their incredible adventures (unless they’re my very best friends). I’ve started to realize that consistent exposure to other people’s lives has made me worry about my own. Am I going on enough adventures? Am I fun? Look at all those people having fun together, do I even have friends?

Yes, yes and yes. I just don’t tend to document it all as well as others do. But that’s okay.

Honestly, my next step is to delete my Facebook account entirely, since I mostly observe from the corner. But how can I stay in touch with my new nephews and my family? I might have to change a few things up if I want to start getting digital with my minimalism.

Have you deleted your Facebook? If so, have you implemented any alternatives?

Knowing When to Unplug

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I’ve been having trouble unplugging lately. I work most of my day at a computer, bowing out of the office for a half hour walk at lunchtime, and arrive home and immediately boot up my laptop while cooking up some dinner. Most days, it’s my personal laptop instead of my work laptop, but still – this adds up to about 75% of my day being behind a screen.

Many Millennials are seeking jobs that offer an emphasis on work/life balance, and luckily for me, I feel I’ve found one. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m constantly on my computer or phone. What happens when this constant connection gets to us?

Headaches. Trouble concentrating. For me, my happiness levels drop and I become tired without having actually done anything. When do we stop? Ideally, before this all starts! Some of my best evenings have been where I’ve failed to charge a laptop so it winds up dead and unusable, or when I have forgotten my phone in the other room (or even better – at home).

I won’t claim to be even remotely well-practiced in unplugging and logging off – in fact, I’m writing this post for myself as a reminder of how much I need to make room for this in my life. I mean, how easy is it to sink into a Netflix marathon after work? Easier than Easy Mac. But, with that said, here are my best ideas for unplugging

  • Read a book. A what? A nook? No. A book. Sit on your patio or go find a bench or a grassy spot in a nearby park. Spend time in silence, reading whatever you want to read – you’re not in school anymore! You have the time to choose your own textbooks and novels now.
  • Nature, as much as possible. Even if it’s a few trees and a pond in the middle of an office park. My 30-minute walks at lunchtime are always a wonderful way to rejuvenate myself before finishing up a day of work. As a disclaimer, though, I do usually spend the time talking on the phone with a member of my family. I consider this second-best to in-person socialization, but since I’m not looking at a screen, I count it as being unplugged. Technicalities.
  • Spend time with animals. Stop texting while you’re half-heartedly petting your dog. Pet the dog like you mean it. Like you’re not a robot. My rabbits sure know when I’m not paying attention to them, and they take full advantage (my carpet is in tatters – another story for another day).
  • Cook dinner. I’m so anti-boxed foods these days. First of all, I’m scared of the weird, unpronounceable ingredients. Secondly, I cherish the time I get to spend away from screens and interacting with raw, beautiful vegetables. Is that just me? It might just be me.
  • Sit in silence. Do it alone. Do it with a friend, a significant other, a stranger. I don’t care. Just sit in silence and take in the noises around you. Immerse yourself in the real world, instead of lightly treading through a weird, digital reality. Practice listening and being a spectator instead of being actively involved with commenting, following, liking, emailing, chatting, etc. This is my biggest challenge. Silence makes me, and many people I know, uneasy.

I can’t say that I practice all of these every day. I can’t even say that I practice some of these some of the days. All I know is that these screens are starting to get to me, and I desperately need to make time to unplug. How do you skip the screens?

 

 

Dressing Like a Million Bucks (When You Don’t Have It)

I’ve grown much less attached to the idea of variety in my wardrobe – these days, comfort and functionality are the name of the game. However, there are special occasions where the basic t-shirt and jeans combo is absolutely not appropriate. Cue serious frustration.

Because anything even remotely appropriate for interviews, banquets, and formal meetings gets pricey fast. A simple suit can cost upwards of $200 without anyone blinking an eye. No, thank you.

So if you’re willing to take a chance on a slightly different technique for scoring a few great pieces for your fancy affairs, take my advice – don’t buy retail. In many cases, it’s best to even shy away from the clearance rack. My advice? Ebay.

First, find out the exact size and style of clothing you’re interested in. For me, I wanted a complete suit and a little black dress from Express, which was easy to scope out. I tried on a few styles and found the perfect cut, and then bee-lined out of the store (okay, fine, I checked the clearance rack first – guilty).

Express Outfit

My blazer and little black dress wins from Ebay

I was able to search around on Ebay for the style I had in mind and after doing a bit of research on the seller, the listing, and the items, I started bidding away. I ended up with 2 blazers,  2 pairs of pants, and even my first awesome LBD for roughly $70. (I’m guessing it would have all cost me somewhere around $450 had I purchased them in-store).

If you’ve got an interview or formal event coming up and don’t want to scavenge through thrift store racks to find a suitable outfit, definitely check out any live auctions or Buy It Now items on Ebay. Here’s some tips for success:

  • Buy early. Consider the length of time between when the auction ends and your event – will it arrive on time? It’s best to invest in a good go-to formal outfit well before it’s needed so that you don’t end up spending more than you need to.
  • Trust the seller. You can check out each seller’s history and ratings easily on Ebay. I usually stick with people who’ve clearly been selling for a while and have nearly perfect ratings, just to be sure.
  • Know the item – has it been altered or are there imperfections that are just too glaring? It’s not uncommon to find items that are still new with tags (NWT) or new without tags (NWOT), so keep an eye out for that.
  • If the items are not new, get used to the idea of wearing used clothing. It’s definitely a change from wearing all-new items, but there’s no cooties a good wash or dry clean can’t get rid of. Know that the items may have some imperceptible flaws, but those cases are where you get the best deals!

As a final note, it’s a good idea to invest in more neutral essentials so that you can carry them over from interview to formal banquet to classy wedding. Multi-purposing is key with these clothes!

The Cleanse: Reduce Your Digital Distractions

I’ve had the conversation time and time again.

“I feel like my life isn’t exciting. I see all my friends uploading photos to Facebook and they’re all having fun without me. Their lives are cooler, prettier, and more interesting than mine.”

Have you had this conversation? With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and especially Pinterest, this unhappiness digs deep at a lot of us. It can be debilitating. It can be addicting.

So today, I propose another challenge. Analyze how you spend your day, and identify where you can cut out the unnecessary distractions. Don’t tell me that scrolling through Pinterest for hours and hours is how you relax. It’s causing you more stress! It’s destroying your productivity! It’s draining your energy! It’s making you unhappy.

I’ve recently been without internet at my apartment. So, instead of sleeping and eating the day away, I’ve been walking to the grocery store, talking to my family on the phone, and listening to audiobooks as I do dishes. I’ve been exercising more and my eyes feel a lot less tired from staring at screens all day. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s a black hole of time-wasting and an avalanche of self-esteem lowering images and ideas.

Make it a personal goal to avoid unnecessary time online, and when you do, consider sharing more of what you do well rather than just focusing on what others are doing or what they own that you cannot. I’m going to follow this post up with detailed entries about various social networks and how you can start utilizing them efficiently and positively, because I’ve been through an addiction to each one–and none of them are healthy.

Do you use the internet as a tool to further your productivity, or do you lose hours a day while browsing?