Someone smart once said that if you want to see how tightly coupled you are to any kind of habit, stop doing it for a while and see what happens. So I did. To sum it up: I missed social media a lot, I was amazed how tightly linked to it I was, and in the end, I came out slightly less linked to it. Here are a few thoughts that I jotted down as I went through the fast:
- My brain was trained to think in terms of statuses. I found myself reading something, seeing something or doing something and feeling compelled to think of the event in terms of a twitter post, or posting a picture. I noticed how I took pictures just to document the event and post it. I noticed how many of my posts were to present the highlights of my life in the way I wanted my life to be perceived.
- Living in the present moment. I think I did a much better job of this while not being on FB. I was less concerned about checking in, posting a picture or a status, and more concerned about just enjoying what I was doing.
- I missed keeping up to date with friends. I learned just how dependent on FB I am to keep in touch with lots of my family and friends. People would ask, "Did you see what so and so said/did on facebook?" and I felt like I was missing out. My close friends and family, I would call or text. That mid-circle of friends, I missed out on what was going on in their world by not being on facebook.
- Facebook is tightly linked to my communications and authentication. I use the 'log in via facebook' capability a lot in my applications, and without facebook, I was hosed. I also depend on FB for communications - lots of people's e-mail addresses that I don't have, and need FB to reach out en-masse. It's also easier to post something amusing than have to send it via SMS or e-mail to friends, which I found myself doing. I also use the facebook event invite feature, and without any kind of calendaring integration, I missed out on this functionality.
- I used Facebook to placate bordom. I was amazed how many times I would grab my phone when bored and not have facebook to go to. I found other things to do on my phone when I was bored, like check e-mail, but wow do I do that a lot.
- No place to vent. I missed out on having a channel to vent on when something went wrong, or being able to use twitter to post a complaint about a product issue that needed resolution.
In the end, I think I was able to reset some pathways in my brain in a good way. I feel less compelled to post every thing I do, and less concerned about the world knowing what I'm doing or thinking at any moment. I actually ask myself, 'why would anyone care?' before posting something, or just don't think to post things in general. I never really did anything to deal with my constant going to my phone when I'm bored - I just changed what I do on my phone, not really dealing with the core issue at all.