This winter, a Facebook friend posted a screenshot of their battery percentage use, found in the settings of their iPhone. This friend was mortified and concerned at how much of their percentage (and time) was being devoted to Facebook. I can’t remember precisely, but I want to say their percentage was around 15%.
This prompted me to go to my own settings and check my own battery percentage use, out of curiosity to see how I compared. Mine was hovering somewhere closer to around 50%! And right under that was Instagram. Then Pinterest. Then Twitter. I felt sick to my stomach to see the numbers so blatantly laid out for me.
The guilt set in immediately. What was my child seeing? A mom who was glued to her phone, scrolling through social media newsfeeds and watching other people’s lives? Looking at their children? Was I missing important moments? Important cues? Was she feeling ignored? Unimportant? Could we have been going out and making fun memories together, instead of me looking at other people’s fun memories? Was I stomping around mad all day, and probably snapping at her, just because I read some ugly political news first thing in the morning that sent me into a cranky tailspin? Was I sitting there crying and bringing dark emotions into the house, because I had just seen an animal abused shared by a well-meaning animal advocate friend? Was this the example I wanted to set for my child? How could I teach her to love reading books, if she didn’t see Mommy reading? How could I tell her “No, you can’t have a tablet,” if she saw me on mine constantly?
Our brains are easily addicted to these shiny screens—a new tool and phenomenon unique to this era. We don’t yet know how it will affect us—both adults and children—further down the road. But already, the data and research are not showing very good results. It was time to nip this in the bud. It was time for a Digital Detox.
How did I detox?
I decided I need a cold, hard break from Facebook in particular. I was really concerned about the “emotional whiplash” I was experiencing from reading news stories being shared by my 3,000 friends. It was too easy to fall into an “internet rabbit hole” from the plethora of links being shared.
However, I knew that if I said “No more Facebook at all” that I’d be setting myself up for failure. It’s hard to quit any addiction cold turkey, so I set up some rules for my Detox:
- No Facebook at all, except on Friday mornings. Then, I was allowed to totally binge. I could upload my week’s worth of photos (that’s the thing that keeps me from quitting completely—I have no hard-copy photo albums, just Facebook albums). I could see all my notifications, respond to friends and glance at my newsfeed to catch up on any of my friends’ major news. This binging usually only took me about 40 minutes and then I was bored with it! Once I was signed out, there was no going back in until the next Friday.
- Instagram was allowed in moderation, daily. I decided Instagram was okay if I was really conscious of the amount of time I was clocking on it—usually only during nap time. My reasoning was because there are no links shared on Instagram. There is no news showing up on my newsfeed, so my top concern of “emotional whiplash” did not apply to Instagram, since I really only follow mommy bloggers and interior designers. Because I allowed myself a teensy bit of social media, the lack of Facebook honestly didn’t bother me.
- Similarly, I allowed myself Pinterest in moderation. I usually only scroll through Pinterest late at night, when my child is sleeping. Since I only look at dinner recipes, interior design, and inspiring artwork, I usually log off feeling inspired and motivated (as opposed to the complete opposite feeling that Facebook gave me).
- No more Twitter. Twitter for me had only become a buzzing political news stream, so it was definitely getting cut out.
- I deleted Facebook’s Messenger app altogether.
- I moved my Facebook and Twitter apps to the very back “page” of my iPhone, which would require about ten swipes to the left for me to even get to them. I let Instagram and Pinterest live on the front page.
How did I do?
Interestingly, I kept opening up Pandora absent-mindedly, because it was also on the front page & has a similar blue logo to Facebook. I was appalled to see how many times I went into auto-pilot to open up Facebook without even consciously thinking about it. Scary! It took three days for this muscle-memory to stop. This explained a lot to me.
The hardest part was not sharing my photos and videos every day. Granted, I still shared my favorite photos on Instagram, where at least half of my friends are, but most of my (older) family members are on Facebook, so there was a mutual sadness over the sudden loss of communication & daily baby updates.
I originally intended to try this for a week—perhaps two weeks. Instead, I did this for an entire month! Once my personal deadline arrived, I was so “over” Facebook that I really didn’t want to get back on.
Currently, I’m back to getting on Facebook daily, but I have not moved my apps to the front page, nor have I added Messenger back. I no longer spend time scrolling my newsfeed & avoid links and news like the plague! I’m much more aware of my time, my focus, and my emotional state. I try to use Facebook as a photo album mostly and shut it down before I get sucked into the rest.
My child has a much more involved and happy mother … And we both read a lot of books now!