You may have noticed some of your online friends doing it. It pops up in your Facebook feed. It’s a message that goes something like this: “Hi everyone! I’m taking a break from Facebook to focus on the real world. If you need me, please text or call my phone. I won’t be checking anything on here for a while.”
Maybe you feel a little twinge of envy. Gosh, it would be nice to just leave Facebook out of your life for a few days or even a week or more. No worrying about keeping up with your neverending friend feeds, constantly posting photos, or remembering to leave birthday wishes on your buddies’ pages.
You can choose to step away from the social networking noise, but it can be hard to disrupt a habit as strong as Facebook. Here are tips to help you successfully take that “Facebook break” you’ve been thinking about:
Level with yourself
Before you take your Facebook break, take a moment to evaluate why you want to do it. Are you spending way too much time on the network? Are you tired of political arguments? Are you feeling pressured to keep up with your friends’ activities? Has it gotten to be more stressful than enjoyable? Are you traveling and will be away from reliable internet access? These are all legitimate reasons for wanting to step away.
One way to keep on track is to set a goal for yourself, such as one week, two weeks, or one month away. That’s long enough to notice any changes or differences in your life, or in the way you feel about Facebook.
Delete the Facebook app
Heavy Facebook users often impulsively open up the app on their phones. Remove this temptation by deleting the app for the duration of your break. You can always reinstall it later.
Deactivate your account
If you don’t have the willpower to just stay away from Facebook, then deactivate your account during your break. This is different from deleting your account. Deactivation essentially puts your account into suspended animation. Facebook states, “Deactivating your account will disable your profile and remove your name and photo from most things you've shared on Facebook. Some information may still be visible to others, such as your name in their friends list and messages you sent.”
Go to your account menu, choose “Settings,” and select “edit” next to “Manage Account.” This opens up an option to deactivate your account. You will need to re-enter your password and give Facebook your reason for leaving. Options include “This is temporary. I’ll be back.” and “I don’t find Facebook useful.”
Keep in mind that deactivating your account also means you can no longer publish to any Pages you might manage. Be sure there’s an alternative administrator for Pages that need updates in your absence. You can reactivate your Facebook profile at any time, so you can return to the site in full when (or if) you decide to end your self-imposed exile.
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Notice the difference
Take time to take stock of how your life has changed during your Facebook break. Maybe you now have an extra 20 minutes every morning to read a book and drink your coffee. Maybe your work day productivity has gotten a boost with the disappearance of Facebook distractions. Maybe you’re spending more time with your friends and family face-to-face instead of staring at your phone. Or maybe you’re not noticing much change at all.
Return with care
If you enjoyed your Facebook break, but still want to go back, you can return with a different mindset. If your goal is to spend less time on the network, then consider leaving the app off your phone. You might also restrict the number of times per day you allow yourself to check in. You can also spend some time paring down your friends list to reduce the clutter.
Still not sure about committing to a Facebook-less trial run? A 2015 study conducted with over 1,000 participants in Denmark found that quitting Facebook for a week could lead to an increased sense of life satisfaction and make emotions become more positive, especially for heavy Facebook users. If that sounds intriguing, then think about committing to a Facebook-free experiment of your own and see how it works out for you.