Since you know me as an outdoor travel blogger and a mom who promotes play, it may seem strange to hear social media advice from me. But the reality is that I might also be one of the most knowledgeable in your sphere of resources, because I’ve effectively used social media to support this blog for almost a decade. That’s a lot of years balancing family life with my blogging life. But the truth is, there are ways to take a Facebook break without missing anything.
This is meant as a friendly guide with strategies that work for me and my family – it’s NOT a judgment on how you do things! This is also NOT a Facebook bashing. It’s just the platform most people use and the one most people ask me about. In fact, if you have your own proven strategies, I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via email.
I’ll share exactly how to approach each option below.
Option #1 – Don’t Stop
This option is perfect for those of you who are comfortable with their Facebook usage and not looking to make any changes. Fine! No guilt. No pressure. If you’re good with it, we’re all good with it. Stick to the path you are on. (You might want to read on to help your friends if they ever want to go this direction).
[You won’t miss anything if you don’t take a break.]
Option #2 – Don’t Start
I’m pretty sure my husband is one of the few people in the United States who is not on Facebook. I think I’m required to be on there enough for both of us! He’s not missing out on anything, because I share the highlights. I’m pretty much in the camp that thinks you should only be on social media if you have a goal. I even set specific goals for each platform (Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
My Facebook goals are:
- Staying current on community news & events
- Promoting my blogs and interacting with my readers
- Staying in touch with long-distance friends. (If my friends live close enough, my personality fits better with more private interactions like emails, notes, in-person conversations, grabbing coffee or lunch together, or going on walks, rather than online conversations in a place everyone can eavesdrop.)
- And sometimes, for the sheer entertainment value.
If you can’t think of why you should start. Then don’t.
[You won’t even know what you’re missing if you don’t start.]
Option #3 – Don’t Take It With You
This is my main strategy when managing my Facebook use. I just take the app off my phone on weekends and when I’m on vacation with the family. I probably delete/reinstall the app 2 or 3 times during the week depending on if I need it for work or not. Nothing gets erased. There’s no disabling or deactivating needed. You’re just taking away the vehicle that tempts you to access it when you are away from your computer. You can still log in first thing in the morning or in the evening from your desktop computer. It just greatly reduces the number of times you’ll get distracted.
What About FOMO with Your Family?
So . . . every article I’ve read about social media references FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) as a motivator for checking social media over and over.
But what if you changed the psychology of this? Seriously, why should we be so afraid of missing out on something that’s happening on social media? Shouldn’t we be more fearful of missing out on something in real life — especially if social media usage is the reason we missed it? Do you ever have FOMO when your child is hoping you’re watching them try something new or conquer a challenge and you MISS IT? Ugh!
I think every parent feels it. There’s no doubt Facebook is distracting. You don’t ever want to miss something that’s important to your child. There are obviously legitimate times when work, health issues, and other real life distractions force you to miss stuff. Unfortunately, those things are just the way life goes. Missing the good stuff is not always preventable. But, Facebook? Umm, totally easy to take it off your phone and put the focus more on your family.
That’s Why It’s Easy to Take It Off Your Phone
This a strategy that works for me – and with tweens/teens – it’s important to model my strategy for balancing technology and real life. So I will even go so far as to say: “I’m taking Facebook off my phone now – so I won’t be distracted.” And then “Putting Facebook back on my phone because I need to cover an event today. Sorry!” Vocalizing WHY I’m doing what I’m doing makes me think more about my motivations/goals for using Facebook as a tool. When I check it on my desktop at home they are either still asleep in the morning or already up in their rooms in the evening. If I need to excuse myself to post – I make a big deal about saying. I need to go post and I will be right back.
[By only accessing on your home computer (and not on your mobile device) at set times – first thing in the morning and again in the evening – you won’t miss what’s happening when you are actively engaging with your friends, kids, and family during the day.]
Option #4 – Cold Turkey
There are two times of year where I take a full-on “blackout” extended Facebook break. Once during summer and once during winter break.
What Are the Consequences?
I won’t lie. As a blogger, I know the Facebook algorithm doesn’t like it when I’m not there. I get rewarded for constantly interacting and engaging with fans of my pages. When I’m away, notifications stack up. Facebook will even email me to remind me about what I’m missing (remember FOMO?). It will even use tricks to say “Fans of your page haven’t heard from you in a while, tell them something new.” When I return from an extended break, I’m definitely penalized with less exposure. It takes a couple of weeks to get interactions back to normal. Do I care? Well, it’s a pain – but the break is really good for me. So it’s 100% worth it to me.
How to NOT Miss Out When You Take an Extended Break
- Tell people you are going, going, gone. Since I’m pretty consistent and active, I always announce my break and give a tentative projection of when I’ll be back. I just saw a friend announce to her Facebook friends that “I will be going Facebook dark for the duration of summer break.”
- Make sure there’s another way to reach you. You know that friend who is going “Facebook dark”? She followed up by saying that if you need her contact info outside of Facebook, let her know ASAP and she’d send it along. For me, I often mention there will be a lag in my response time – even to emails.
- Subscribe to the newsletter. I specifically craft a weekly newsletter so my readers DON’T feel required to follow me on social media. EVER. That way – whether you are using Option #1, #2, #3, or #4 – you’ll still stay connected with me and not miss a thing!
I’m With You No Matter What Option You Pick
Well, that’s my rundown on ways to take a Facebook break without missing anything. Or at least provides you with a mindset shift – to helps you measure the relative importance of missing things on social media vs. missing things in real life. Once you have it figured out, you won’t be afraid of missing anything online at all.