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

photo 1

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?

 

 

My Break from Pinterest

That’s right. I’m officially off of Pinterest for the next 9 or 10 months. I’ve already shared my opinion about Pinterest before on this blog, and I wanted to reiterate it now that I’m engaged (gasp!) I’ve spent my fair share of time pinning away dreamy things on Pinterest and thinking of the day when I’ll walk down the aisle.

Pinterest makes me think everything in a wedding looks so rosy. Not quite. I’m sure I’m going to be tired, my teeth aren’t going to be glowing white and I’m absolutely, 100% sure I’ll be sweaty. (Sorry for that–but it’s true). I’ve sworn off Pinterest while planning so that I can clearly imagine my wedding the way I want it to look and not be inundated with possible alternatives that might make me second guess myself about silly things like colors and the amount of mason jars I can realistically fit into my decor.

Pinterest has started to come out as an added stress during wedding planning, setting unrealistic expectations for the day. With all of those beautiful and widely varying images laid out in front of me, I can’t help but think I’d want it all and then be disappointed when it doesn’t come true.

My less-than-perfect fix? Google images. That way I can only see precisely what I type in to the search bar. I see pink and green weddings. I see paper flowers. I do not see royal blue weddings with 24-Karat details. I do not see purple macaroons or yellow and white fresh Easter Lilies. I’ve picked my colors and my flowers. Pinterest, you’re just too tempting.

See you on the flip side, Pinterest!

The Cleanse: Instagram

Instagram

Last year, I decided to drop Instagram. The terms of service had just changed, and it was just the push I needed to say goodbye to the only remotely acceptable place to post my pictures of rabbits and cups of coffee. But, greater than any terms of service issue or lack of interesting things to take photos of, I realized it was a time and happiness sink.

The immaculate people, places, and things of Instagram were getting me down. It’s the digital equivalent of seeing through rose-colored glasses. Much like with Pinterest, I was being overwhelmed with images that were skewed from reality.

My solution for this issue? Simple. Deactivate your account. Switch to Twitter if you desperately need to share a photo, but when the need to feel “artsy” is removed from your photo sharing, you’ll notice yourself forgetting all about the app.

I’m no longer searching for exciting and beautiful things to snap photos of to share–if I come across something beautiful, I pause and appreciate it. Take some time–in real life–to appreciate the moment and notice the tiny details that even Instagram can’t capture.

Perhaps this is one step closer to being smart phone free?

The Cleanse: Pinterest

You have a choice to make, right now. Before you pin your next pin, before you browse your next DIY Board, you have to make a choice. Will you use Pinterest for good or for evil?

I’m feeling rather cynical, so I’m assuming you’re using it for evil. I’ve used it for evil. I still do, when I’m in the mood.

Is there a wrong way to use Pinterest?

Yes. Pinterest is a beautiful, well-designed inspiration tool that can help you design your life. Down to the colors of your throw pillows and accent doilies, it can help you visualize your new home without lifting more than a finger. Some power pinners can plan every detail, while those of us who more casually browse can get general ideas and color schemes from images we find beautiful.

But here is what Pinterest is not: an escape. If you are using Pinterest as an escape pod from your everyday “ugly” lifestyle, you need to shut it down. Turn off your computer and run very far away from it. Do not spend one more minute on the site.

Rilke Quote

Rilke telling it like it is. I may pin this image out of irony.

But I like Pinterest better than real life.

I did too for a while. My life isn’t nearly as rose-colored and beautiful as the lives of people on Pinterest. I had to break it to myself, and I’ll break it to you too. The secret of their happiness? Professional photography. Excellent lighting. Great makeup. Tons of spare time. Photo filters. Photoshop.

If you’re measuring your happiness up against what Pinterest offers, then you’re doing it wrong. People in pictures on Pinterest are smiling  because they’re not thinking about how good this will look on Pinterest. Amazing DIY projects are not the result of hours spent on the site—they’re the result of hours spent working on a craft.

How do I reduce my addiction to Pinterest?

First of all, find out if you have an addiction. Then, identify if you leave the site with a plethora of new ideas, or if you come away wondering why does my life suck? If it’s the latter, it’s time to cut down.

I still go on Pinterest. I love it. However, I’ve changed my use of the site. How often do you go back to your boards to see something you’ve pinned? (Especially if it’s not a link to a useful post or cool DIY project). If you’re like me, the answer would be never.

minimalist Pinterest board

Does anyone else see the irony in having a Pinterest board devoted to minimalism?

So instead of overwhelming myself with weird digital baggage, I stopped pinning to many boards. Right now, I’m pinning minimalist images that inspire me to further reduce clutter in my life. If I find a link particularly useful, I pin it to my secret boards along with the engagement ring ideas I stored up to give my boyfriend (not a joke. I’ll talk Pinterest and weddings in a later post). By using secret boards, I don’t feel like I’m broadcasting my general good taste (please read that sarcastically) to others.

Instead of browsing everything, I turn to specific keywords or particular boards, to avoid overwhelming myself. If I find myself clicking through to a retail site in order to purchase something, I call it quits. Shut it down. I’m not on Pinterest to shop. I’m on Pinterest to be inspired. For free.

That leads me to my final point:

Did you know that Pinterest is a goldmine for marketers? Consumers spend more money and purchase more things more often as a result of Pinterest use than any of the other top social media sites. There’s tons of Pinterest marketing info on how best to get casual pinners to convert. You may think you’re on Pinterest for inspiration, but oftentimes you’re actually there to be marketed to (that’s why I try to avoid browsing consumer products).

Give Pinterest a break. Use your time wisely, and actually start working on one of those projects you pinned months ago. I know I should.

Are you a friend or foe of Pinterest? Let me know in the comments.

The Cleanse: Mobile Games

So, I’m going to start off my tech cleanse series by highlighting mobile games. Let’s face it, we’re all attached to our phones. Unless you’re still using a flip phone (and really, kudos if you are), you likely have one or two games or applications that you’re hooked on. It’s easy to start up Angry Birds while you’re waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting for friends, waiting at a coffee shop, the list goes on.

It’s certainly fun, BUT what happens when the mobile game gets in the way of our work and our time with loved ones? I got into a rut playing a particularly addictive jewel-matching game as soon as I woke up and right before bed. I’d play it instead of sharing my day with my boyfriend and friends. In short, it poisoned my social life. It added no value to my life, and was a black hole for my free time.

I uninstalled most of the games on my phone. I only have 6 games nowadays, compared to 16 or so. I never played them all, I kept them around because I thought someday I’ll get back into this. I don’t allow myself to play those games at home or at work.

But what do I do with all my time?

SoundGecko

I found it easier to replace gaming with another mobile activity, in order to ease the transition. I created a SoundGecko account and downloaded the app, and began listening to blogs that I had always wanted to read whenever I had a few minutes. The nice thing is that the length of each blog post is listed, so I can pick and choose various articles depending on how much time I have.

Now I’ve been catching up on blogs like Becoming Minimalist and Mr. Money Mustache, and loving every minute of it. What’s more, I can also do other things I’ve put off like doing dishes and putting the final touches on my latest crocheting project. Productivity at last!

Remove the trivial distractions. I challenge you to uninstall three of your mobile games today, and spend a whole week without touching the rest of them. You’ll find you have more free time than you think you do.