I use Facebook actively. I travel a lot, have moved 4+ times in the last three years, and work remotely for most of my clients. Facebook makes it easy for me to stay in touch with people all across the world while I split my time between different time zones.
But it also makes it easy for me to waste way too much time when I am not paying attention. I’ve caught myself far too many times looking down at my phone and scrolling through Facebook mindlessly when my time would be better spent thinking about how to solve serious problems or reading or listening to quality material. Even if I didn’t spend downtime doing something productive, there is a value in boredom. Boredom allows the mind to wander and through this wandering I often make connections or breakthroughs I wouldn’t otherwise had come across. Facebook occupies the mind and prevents this wandering, even if the occupation is low-level and only slowly seeps energy from your day. That, though, is the topic of a separate post. At the very least, the minutes wasted putzing around on Facebook add up to be valuable time never to be reclaimed.
I’d tried using tools like StayFocusd and removing the Facebook app from my phone — and those helped reduce the amount of time I spent on the platform but I would still find ways onto it through Safari or the browser on my phone when bored.
For Lent, I removed Facebook from my life and made it impossible for my wandering mind to waste time on the platform. I wanted to make it truly impossible, even if I really wanted to get back on, to get on until the end of Lent (I did make the mistake that I set this for the end of liturgical Lent and not Lenten fast). I burnt the ships. Retreat was not possible.
Here’s how I did it:
1. I changed My backup Email Address
I created a new Gmail address and set that as my new backup email address for Facebook. you’ll see why in a minute.
2. I CHANGED MY Facebook Password to a random string
I used a random password generator to generate a random string of symbols, digits, and letters and set that as my Facebook password.
3. I CHANGED MY Email PASSWORD TO the same string
This made it that I couldn’t log into the email account and recover my password if I really wanted to get on Facebook.
So, at this point I have a random password and an email account with the same random password. I did not save the password anywhere and I did not write it down.
4. I Scheduled an email to myself in the future
Using FutureMe.org, I scheduled an email to myself for the end of Lent (well, liturgical Lent, which was a mistake on my part). This way, I would get the password to log back into Facebook only at the end of the period for which I wanted to stay off the platform.
This morning, I received this email:
I can now log in, change my recovery email address back, and use the platform as I wish.
I checked the platform this morning. I honestly do not see myself using it daily in the future — it’s not like I wasn’t busy before, but removing the downtime on Facebook made it easier for me to find new productive uses of my time (or more productive sources of leisure, like exercise or reading) when I wasn’t doing work. The biggest loss was not being able to participate in certain Facebook groups for communities I appreciate.
Overall, a productive experiment.