Recently, I shared about how Facebook can be a great tool for sharing content online. But the other side to that is it can also be an epic waste of time.
About a year ago, I started tracking how much time I was actually spending on Facebook and was amazed to discover it was a couple hours per day day. Shocked, I vowed to simplify my approach to social media, so that I could focus more on what mattered most to me while still staying connected with the people I care about.
As Betty White said, “I would never say that the people on there are losers, but that's only because I'm polite.” If you find yourself feeling like one of those losers, here's how you can stop:
- Don't leave Facebook open. Check it a few times during the day (if your work allows) and once at night. When you're done, close the window.
- Be intentional. When you're checking Facebook, make sure that you have an intention for it. Sign in to post something or visit a friend's page or share some photos. Then, get off.
- Turn of email notifications and “pushes.” Facebook notifies you every time someone posts a comment on your wall, sends you a message, or even comments on a discussion thread you're a part of. Turn off as many as possible, if not all of them. (I let my wall posts and post comments go to my email, so that I can moderate them without having to log-in to Facebook)
- Use content-sharing apps without logging in. Most blogs and websites have a built-in Facebook “share” or “like” button, but you can also add a button to your browser. Other apps that will post your content for you are: NetworkedBlogs, RSS Graffiti, and Twitterfeed. If you like social bookmarking, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Digg also allow you to send the articles you like directly to Facebook.
- Post photos to multiple sites at once. Facebook began as a photo-sharing site, and some people still actually use it to share images. If you find yourself spending a lot of time posting photos online, consider using a service like IFTTT, which allows you to post photos to multiple places with one easy upload.
If none of the above works, you may just have to quit Facebook.
Before you do, though, consider quitting Facebook without actually quitting it. And before you do that, consider this: Facebook may not be a waste of time at all for you. If it's a distraction from work and real life, then by all means, get rid of it. But, and this is a big “but,” if you're finding real community there don't let it go.
Nowadays, there is no distinction between our “offline” and “online” lives. It's possible to have legitimate, non-creepy relationships with people you've never met in-person through the web, which wasn't true not so long ago. If you have those relationships, hold onto them. Just realize that some people may never understand, and that's okay.
If you don't know what I'm talking about and Facebook is just a nice place to read status updates and play games, then it's time to go find some real community:
- Go to the library.
- Coordinate a local meetup.
- Join a book club.
Do something to get off the computer and out of the house. Whatever you do, find a place to make a real connection. Life is too short to not make the most of our relationships.
Do you waste time on Facebook? How?