(If you are coming from Facebook and you wonder how could it be possible that I am posting this on Facebook while doing a Facebook fast, the answer is, I got my partner to post this for me)
I deactivated my Facebook profile and ceased all Facebook activities three months ago, after realizing that I spent too many of my waking hours on the social media platform. I found that my attention was fragmentized– when I read, my hands would inadvertently took up my phone and then before I knew it, I was already checking out on the news feed, which consisted of so many interesting news, like so-and-so are getting engaged! The babies are so very cute! Trump is declaring trade war on China! The headlines and the feeds streamed at me, begging me to click and scroll further.
The net effect is that I couldn’t really concentrate on reading.
So I made a resolution to stop using Facebook starting from the first of July this year. What did I gain and lose?
I guess I didn’t lose anything. I didn’t lose out on the news because the news are, by definition, ephemeral. How much news that you read yestermonth is still relevant today? And how much news you read for the past decade is still relevant today? Given enough time span, all happenings cease to become significant. But reading news not only causes cognitive overload, and also causes unwanted stress. Does it really matter to you if Trump wins in the trade war against China? Maybe yes, and maybe no. But even if it does, is there anything you can do to change the situation one way or another? You can’t. But you will spend time and energy worrying about it. What’s the point of getting stress over something that you can’t control?
Do I afraid that I will get outdated if I don’t read news? Not at all. If the news is important enough, it will reach me, one way or another.
I also didn’t miss updates from friends. We all know that we should be happy when we see our friends doing well, travelling here and there and enjoying sumptuous meals. But that’s the ideal. The reality is that we will get envious iat friends– instead of happy for them— who travel to exotic places while we get bogged down with house chores. And does seeing your friends doing well motivate you to do well yourself? Of course! But a lot of us don’t need motivation— we need solution, we need opportunities. Staring at your friend’s update will not help you finding such opportunities at all.
Having ween off all the distractions, I have more time to read books. I read good fiction books, like Crazy Rich Asians, or non-fiction books like Living with a SEAL for 31 days, history books like 蒙古帝国史. Granted, even though they are as useless as current news, but at least they are more entertaining.
I also continue to do 10 ideas per day, for everyday since July, without fail. It now becomes a habit. I am on track to become an idea machine! So everyday I am also producing, and not just consuming. Science says that being creative makes you happier.A happier person has a greater chance of being more creative. So it’s a positive feedback loop.
The time I free up from not reading Facebook, is also the time I use for self-inspection. Do you ever examine your own inner self? Most of us are just too busy. We let things come at us, and then we react at them unconsciously. So we blurt out angry words before our brain can stop them, we raise our hands and hit people even though we know it’s not right, we are hostage to our own emotion without us realizing it. All these problems can be alleviated at least, if we spend time to pause, to know where they come from. I feel insulted by my boss remarks– actually, the feeling of being insulted is not you, it is just a thought that bubbles up from the sea of the subconsciousness. You won’t feel insulted if you don’t let your thoughts to do so. Ouch, I just made a bad investment and lost RM 10 million, sure, that’s a horrible thing to happen. But bear in mind that it’s also only a thought, why let it torment you day and night? Why not just recognize it as just a thought, and then cultivate other more positive thoughts like how can you do better next time?
Without time to examine your inner-self, there is no way to detach your thoughts from you. And that’s where the unhappiness comes from.
I also improve my relationship with my wife, simply by looking at her more than looking at my phone.
So, it’s a win for me in every area. I guess I will just stay off Facebook for good.