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August 26, 2015

Disconnected: Finding Joy by Deleting Facebook.

Maria Elena on Flickr

On a Tuesday afternoon not too long ago I sat with my baby on my lap, rocking him as he nursed to sleep. We’d done this hundreds of times since he came home from the hospital.

It had become our routine, as had scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook.

That Tuesday afternoon, as I sat there feeding my baby, I scrolled endlessly and mindlessly for the hundredth or thousandth time over, hoping to find something new. I was instead met with the same posts I had seen day in and day out.

I refreshed and refreshed again. Nothing new appeared, nothing but boredom and a realization.

What was I doing?

I peered up from my screen to see my son peacefully sleeping, cuddled against me. Pure bliss, I’d call it. In that moment he had almost all that he needed: nourishment, love, warmth, and his Mama.

However, I wasn’t really present until that moment.

I was distracted. I was scrolling and refreshing, staring blankly at the same old thing. As I looked at him I made a decision. I would delete Facebook. Was that a drastic measure? Sure, but it was necessary. What had once been a place to talk to friends, learn about happenings around the world and have deep discussions about parenting methods had become a nuisance. A place filled with boredom and judgment, a distraction from the world around me.

Shortly after making the decision to delete my Facebook account I began to wonder what might happen. Would I instantly regret my choice? Would I be disconnected from the world? Would I lose friends?

I took to Google and actually found some really interesting information. One study in particular stood out to me. It was different than anything I had previously read. Rather than stating facts on the negatives caused by social media, it focused on the positive effects of disconnecting. I was surprised at how true it proved to be.

Kate Unsworth, CEO of Kovert Designs, conducted a study with 35 people to see what happens to people when they disconnect from technology.

After the first day of the study the participants were brought into the Moroccan desert, no technology in tow. Within just a few days people had better posture, better attention to detail, and deeper connections to the people around them. Not only that, but the participants reported feeling well rested and in need of less sleep.

Just as in the study, I began to notice changes within a few days—most significantly my attention span. Prior to deleting Facebook I had terrible eye contact with people. I was constantly looking away at random, distracted by tangential thoughts or social media. Sometimes I looked away just to check my phone for no apparent reason, other than some kind of hope or comfort. Did I have a new message? Did someone reply to my most recent post?

Not only did I notice a better connection to those people then and there in my life but also I understood more, I remembered more. My thoughts seemed to be less foggy and I had much better focus on tasks at hand and conversations I took part in.

Prior to this big change, I enjoyed meditation but I never was very consistent with it. I tended to use the time I’d set aside for it to check my phone instead, eventually getting lost while scrolling through posts. It didn’t take long for me to create a new nightly routine of meditating before bed. I don’t know if it was due to the shift in routine, deleting Facebook alone, or a combination of both, but just as suggested in the study my posture improved. That had its own benefits, such as being in a better mood and enjoying whatever task I was completing a little bit more.

The last big change was to sleep. Not that sleep with a young toddler is ever the best, but it definitely is better now. Since enacting a personal rule to not use any screens for at least an hour before bed I found myself falling asleep more quickly and easily. My mind isn’t running rampant with thoughts or jumping at the prospect of yet another reply to a Facebook post.

All of these small but significant changes are great, but nothing could top the benefit of connecting better with my son.

I’d become more attentive. I saw moments of peace and joy in all the new things he was learning, in his own joy for navigating the world all on his own. This all added up to me being a happier and better mother.

As for my questions of whether or not I would miss Facebook or lose friends over this decision, I was surprised about the answer to both. I certainly found myself missing the ability to post a question to hundreds of people all at once and receive multiple answers within minutes, but that longing quickly disappears when I see all of the wonderful ways I have benefited.

And all those friends I thought would probably disappear? They didn’t. They are still there, we just communicate through other means. Within a couple days of deleting my account I had multiple emails and texts from friends saying they wanted to keep in contact. We were able to have meaningful conversations outside the world of Facebook. I can always ask any one, or all, of them those same questions I would have posed to the social media world.

This isn’t to say Facebook is bad. In fact, there were many good things that came from it, but it was time to let it go. I hope anyone who reads this might be inspired to take a moment to see their sleeping baby or step outside and feel the warm summer breeze on their face, to take just one day a week to disconnect from social media and reconnect with the wonderful world around us.

Sometimes that is all we need for a happier, more meaningful day.

 

Reference: 

“What Really Happens To Your Brain And Body During A Digital Detox.” Fast Company.

30 July 2015. Web. 15 Aug. 2015.

 

Author: Monica Amman

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Maria Elena/Flickr

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Monica Amman

Monica Amman is the mother of a wildly fun little boy and wife to a loving husband. She is a graduate student in Industrial Design, interested in how humans interact with the world around them. She loves to travel with her family, drink tea and eat mint chip ice cream.