Monday, March 8, 2010

How to Wean Yourself Off of Social Networking Sites Such as Facebook

About a year ago I wandered on over to, I was referred to the site by a friend who told me that it was cooler than Myspace. Being a Myspace fan myself I wanted to check into it.

At first the site was confusing and offered me nothing. I didn't understand the profile page, and hated the lack of customizations that I could get from Myspace. However in 2 months time I noticed that people I knew from long, long ago were requesting my friendship. I even had a girl who used to hate me add me as a friend. I had people who were more popular than me suddenly wanting me to be in their inner circle, and I realize now, that the addiction took hold of me due to the fact that I finally felt like I fit in.

I realized I had a problem with Facebook when I found myself sitting in front of my PC just staring blankly at the screen waiting for someone, anyone to either update their status, add a picture, or comment on my status updates, or pictures.

I laughed when others posted too much information or posted pictures of their ugly children on a constant. Mostly though I felt this weird sense of pride, as if I were better than everyone else. Sort of a 'look what happened to the prom queen', she's so fat now! I felt better about myself. Facebook made me feel better about myself. I for once, felt better than the prom queen, and now the prom queen wanted to be my BFF.

I realized though, that this world in Facebook stood there, and only there. As many people as I made connections with, or caught up with 10 years later, the connection never stepped beyond the virtual world.

After realizing my addiction was deep and likely unhealthy I had to be real with myself. Would I really hang out with the prom queen? No. Would I really hang out with the girl I was friends with in 4th grade? No to that too.

Then I asked myself, does any of this really matter? I'm a grown adult, with a life, a real relationship, and all in all I'm happy. Yet here in the virtual land of Facebook, I longed for this popularity and this feeling of fitting in with people I once never fit in with. I began sharing too much information, and over thinking my next status update. This ritual was nothing more than me wasting valuable time staring at a screen.

That is my first tip as far as this addiction goes. As yourself these questions, and if you can answer them honestly you've succeeded in realizing you have a problem. If you are reading this article, than you've already come to the realization that you have a problem.

So how do we fix the problem?

It is hard, like any addiction. I know a lot of folks would say that Facebook is not an addiction or a drug, however I compare it to just that. Facebook and similar social networking sites keep people coming back for more. Like a typical addict you cannot go a day without it. Facebook was just that for me. My addiction, my drug, my virtual reality and I knew I had to get away.

Weaning myself off of Facebook came in steps.

I knew like cigarettes, I could not go cold turkey, so instead I set up rules for myself; strict rules that I had to follow.

I only allowed myself to sign on once a day during the work week in the morning. I set a 1 hour time limit per day. Weekends were Facebook free.

Following this rule was not as difficult as I thought it would be, but I did find myself longing to log in at night when I got home and had nothing to do, or if I was bored.

-The next thing I did once I got accustom to my 1 hour per day time limit was to stop playing Facebook games that had a strong hold on me. I was signing in to Facebook a lot in order to play Cafe World, Farmville, Mafia Wars, PetVille, and FishVille.

I told myself, who cares if my virtual farm dies, or my fishville fish go belly up. Does it really matter? No!

Removing Facebook games from my life helped a lot, because now instead of needing to spend an hour on Facebook, I could cut my time down to a half hour a day.

Once the games were gone, and my time limit now set to a lower limit, I realized that Facebook was a real time killer, and was ashamed that I had spent so many hours on it in the past.

Soon the prom queens updates and pictures of her ugly kid were no longer relevant. The girl who I was friends with in 4th grade is pregnant... so? How irrelevant is this to my life? Nothing that went on, on Facebook was really relevant to my life.

When I realized that I decided to do a clean up of my friend list. The less information for me to divulge in, the less time I'd spend on the site.

I decided to delete everyone who I had not seen in over 3 years. If someone is vacant from your life for over 3 years, there is a good reason as to why. So being friends with them on a social networking site is just wasteful. I went through my list of 228, and removed everyone who was irrelevant to me.

In the end I came out with only 19 people who were relevant to my life. They included my family, close friends, and family friends. Everyone else just doesn't matter. When you are able to realize that, you will see that Facebook itself is pretty irrelevant and unnecessary to your life.

Soon I found I only needed to log on perhaps once or twice a week to talk with cousins, friends, and siblings.

Facebook no longer was an addiction, because I already knew what was going on in their lives, as I see them and spend time with them in the real world.

Do I miss my virtual Facebook world? Do I miss updates and ugly baby pictures from the prom queen? Not at all. In fact, I feel free from my virtual responsibilities. It's quite refreshing, you should try it.

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