I noticed last year that going on Facebook had begun to deliver diminishing returns. It should have been enjoyable to catch up on what friends were doing, so why did it seem like I was always in a bad mood when I closed out?
It was my own fault, of course: When I checked what news was trending, inevitably a few items would be election- or transition-related, from some random sites that had been pushed to the front through mass-fake-news sharing. Or a post would show up in my feed, courtesy of a friend who was (appropriately!) outraged about something awful happening in politics. My neighborhood association page tends to traffic in “Did you hear those gunshots?” and news of attempted break-ins, with very little good news amid the mix.
I’d leave in a worse mood than I showed up in. So I decided to reduce the opportunity for it to bother me.
Step 1: shooting the Messenger
Awhile back, I think I saw that my genius friend and former co-worker Amy Vernon had decided to uninstall Facebook Messenger. I trust Amy’s opinion about all things tech, so I began to think about doing so myself: Why was I giving Facebook even more personal information than it already collects? The people who’ve earned the right to contact me and expect any immediacy should be texting me directly, and why should I toggle between two mega-megabyte apps on my phone just because Facebook wants to stockpile and source more data?
I deleted it from my phone. I really didn’t use it that much anyway, but it felt good to take at least a preliminary step.
Step 2: eliminating notifications
I’d also noticed that the catalyst for many visits throughout the day was a push notification: Someone had liked or left a comment on one of my posts, shared a link, or tagged me in a check-in. Opening the app let me check out the development (and also eliminate that red notification circle) … but then I’d stick around and start scrolling to see what my Facebook friends were up to. A time-suck.
Facebook really doesn’t want you to limit the kinds of push notifications you get; from what I could find, it was all-or-nothing. So I opted for nothing! I turned notifications off entirely, so the only time I get updates on things associated with my content or cohorts is when I open the app. Which is maybe once a day, now that I’m not a slave to the red dot and badge notifications.
It’s only been a few days, so I can’t accurately label it as the inspiration for any change in mood. However, I’ve already noticed that I’m getting more stuff done every day—I had one of my freelance pieces done a day early, which hardly ever happens, and I’m not racing the clock as much to get tasks done every day, both in the office and at home. So I’m declaring it a win.