I Finally Outsmarted Mark Zuckerberg

I did it. I finally outsmarted Mark Zuckerberg.

Okay, crazy lady, you say. How do you think you outsmarted the MULTI-BILLIONAIRE founder of Facebook, and WHY had you made that your mission?

Let me back up a bit for that statement to make sense.

Multiple studies have been done over the last several years on the impact of social media, in particular, Facebook. The findings have been that many people have a net negative outcome from being on social media. Not everyone, but many people.

social media

“Recent research has shown that using social networking sites, namely Facebook, can increase people’s stress levels, produce anxiety and negatively affect a person’s sense of self… Facebook increases people’s anxiety levels by making them feel inadequate and generating excess worry and stress…The constant updates also led many respondents to frequently compare themselves to others, leading to feelings of inadequacy. This anxiety and worry creates chronic stress…The researchers found that when the participants increased their Facebook use, their state of well-being declined.”*

I’ve been on Facebook since 2007, and I’m REALLY embarrassed to admit this, but I’m one of those people that is negatively affected by social media. I would rather keep the exact nature of how it affects me private at this point in time, but for the sake of this post, please just know that it does.

This is in no way me thinking that everyone should, or me calling for everyone to, take a step back from social media. If you are someone that can be active on it everyday and it’s a positive thing in your life, I truly mean it when I say that’s great! I’m just not one of them. And I share that here, because according to research, I’m not the only one.

I almost immediately picked up on the negative impact it was having on me, so much so I purposefully never became active on Instagram, Twitter, or any other form of social media, so I could at least isolate the issue to Facebook. What I didn’t start, I wouldn’t know I was missing. I would periodically threaten to my dogs or to my husband that I was going to close my Facebook account, but I never did because I had felt like the benefits of it had so quickly become a part of my life.

In January of this year, however, I reached a point where I had to somehow figure out a way to get rid of the bad parts of Facebook and keep only the good parts, or I had to shut down my account. So I thought about it. What is it that makes Facebook a bad thing in my life? The answer was simple.

In the mid-2000’s, both My Space and Facebook were social media sites rising in popularity. But one simple factor caused My Space to peter off into oblivion, and Facebook to skyrocket to the 1.35 billion users it has today.**

The Newsfeed.

It’s what keeps people on the site as long as they are, and what keeps them coming back, whether it’s good for them or not.

So I thought again. Is there any way I can get RID of my Newsfeed? I searched through my Facebook settings and could not find a way to turn it off. Then a possible solution came to mind. Would it work? No way it would work. I am sure Mark Zuckerberg has already thought of what I’m about to try and has a roadblock in place to keep me from being successful so I and the other 1.35 billion users keep coming to the site as often as we currently do. But I’m going to try anyway and see what happens. I’m going to unfollow all of my Facebook Friends.

If I unfollowed everyone, wouldn’t that mean my entire Newsfeed would disappear? (The default setting is if you’re Facebook Friends with someone, their status updates and picture uploads automatically appear on your Newsfeed. If you unfollow them, those updates disappear off of your Newsfeed but you remain Friends.) It took awhile, but I went through and manually unfollowed everyone. Facebook Friends, please don’t take this personally! I even unfollowed my own Mom and Grandma. Literally EVERYONE.

Guess what?! It worked! It eliminated my Newsfeed. My homepage is now blank. I know that seems like such a small thing, but by just doing that, I can’t even begin to express to you what a huge difference it has made. For the first couple of weeks, whenever I would take a break during my day, I would still absentmindedly log onto Facebook on my phone, and I’d stare for a second at my blank home page before I would remember that I had made the decision to get rid of my Newsfeed. That’s how much of a habit it had been for me.

For years I had off and on tried to just not look at the Newsfeed when I’d log onto Facebook to do other things, but I would always eventually give in. But since the Newsfeed is now completely gone, there’s nothing to tempt me. I can happily say I finally broke the addiction and that I only log onto Facebook for just a few minutes a day to do some of the things I will list in a moment. No more 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, spent on the Newsfeed, disappearing from my life, all day, everyday, and many of those minutes, not good ones. I am embarrassed to admit that something as silly as a website was affecting me so negatively, but I can’t tell you how good it feels to be free from that stronghold. It’s only been a few weeks, but I pray I stick with it. I can’t ever imagine myself adding the Newsfeed back at this point.

Here is what I found to be positive about Facebook and how I still use the site:

• I can still instantly get in touch with and share pictures with family and friends via private messages, and they can still get in touch with me as they desire.

• I can still check in on friends on their pages anytime I think of them. (Want to see what my Missouri cousins have been up to? Swing by their pages! Friend just had a baby and I want to see if they’ve posted any new pictures? I can still do that! Family friend had a surgery? I can check in for updates on their recovery. Thought of that friend of mine that’s always posting links to great articles and blog postings? I can swing by her page and see what she’s posted lately! I can still do all those kinds of things and more without getting lost in the Newsfeed multiple times a day, and it’s great!)

• Of the groups and organizations I’m a part of, I can still communicate on our private pages.

• I can still check in with my favorite writers, blogs, and devotional ministries.

• Regarding my personal page, I plan to update my profile picture and cover photo every few months so I can share with out of town family and friends how much mine and my husband’s two young sons are growing. I have stepped back from day-to-day, conversational-style posting for the time being, but plan to periodically use my page to share personal or family news/announcements.

If you have been struggling with Facebook lately but don’t want to give it up entirely, try removing your Newsfeed and see what happens! It has truly helped bring peace to my everyday to not be overwhelmed with so much information, but focus on the life I’m living. It has genuinely calmed and quieted my spirit.

Make it your goal to live a quiet life. 1 Thessalonians 4:11a (NLT)

And for the first time since joining Facebook, I feel like I am the one in control, rather than it’s controlling me.

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*Maldonado, Marissa. “The Anxiety of Facebook.” PsychCentral.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.

**Dewey, Caitlin. “Almost as Many People Use Facebook as Live in the Entire Country of China.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.

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2 Comments

  1. Love it, Brittany! Great ideas. FB is tough for me too. And, now my tween is asking and I’m trying to explain the self-esteem, jealousy issues that go along with it. It’s tough. Moms are still learning and now we’re teaching our kids how to deal with it.

  2. Thank you Mandy! And you are a wise Mom, you will be able to guide her well. <3

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