New Year resolutions are in my opinion not always wise, I don't recall keeping many of them, to be honest, I can't even remember any that I made, let alone kept.
However, around the beginning of this year, I decided I was going to do fewer things better and reduce anything unimportant in my life that I felt might be distracting me from what I do best, which is come up with good ideas and then make them a reality.
One thing I had started to feel uneasy about was the effect Facebook was having on my life so I decided to step away from it. For those who are Facebook connections (I call them that, friends is far too important a title to relegate the term to what Facebook suggest they are) will know how prolific my Facebook activity was, so many wondered if I'd take the challenge seriously.
Well, I did and the first thing I want to do is tell you what happened. This is a reprint of an article I shared on LinkedIn.
A month on I wanted to share what a month away from Facebook revealed to me. In most cases these are simple statements of fact, I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.
- Not a single one of my over 1000 'Friends' asked me where I had gone or if I was OK. I had left a note to say I was walking away from Facebook but I doubt all of them saw that.
- Some people tried to continue to contact me through Facebook Messenger but as I did not respond the question simply went away or they used good old fashion email to contact me.
- Although a prolific Facebook user the price of Facebook stock did not decline.
- Every world leader, political party and brand continued to function without the need for my opinion.
- I stopped receiving invites to sign petitions, take part in quizzes and other social games. However, it seems that nothing has changed because of this, including my IQ.
- I have reclaimed about an hour a day of my life as I no longer scroll aimlessly down my Facebook feed just in case there's something that grabs my attention for a moment, be that a plane crash, outrageous political decisions or a cat playing the guitar.
- Which leads me to my next point - I now have less noise and more focus that allows to me to think more clearly about the things that matter in both my business and personal life.
- I feel less anxious, less angry, and less distracted. My productivity has gone through the roof since leaving Facebook.
- I'm more present in the real world and my real friends have the attention my online friends were getting when I was using Facebook.
- Finally, I don't miss it and certainly don't feel like I'm missing out.
As I said at the outset of this article these are my findings, make of them what you will. If like me you are feeling less at ease with using Facebook then take a time away from it and see what it does for your life - mine has improved, your life may improve too.
What I want to draw your attention to are items 7, 8 and 9 on the list.
Now I have less noise in my life I am able to focus in on ideas, they allude me less than they used to and I feel I have more clarity of thought. All I can say is one of the reasons I left Facebook was feeling that my mind was in a fog and not what it used to be. I had put it down to ageing, but now I know it was something far more simple - too much unnecessary information.
One lie we are all sold by social media platforms is that we can consume endless amounts of information, be that a wrestling dog or a terrible gun crime being recorded on a cellphone and we remain unaffected. As Clay Skirky writes in his excellent book 'Here Comes Everybody' our human data filters were designed for a different world with less data coming at us. Now it's relentless information and we need to find ways to filter out what we don't need. My decision was to stop using Facebook, to stop reading endless posts and to stop engaging in mostly pointless debates with complete strangers about stuff.
Which leads me to point 8 on my list, I now feel less anxious, less angry, and less distracted. If I were in a punk band then a dose of anger might be good for me, but on the whole, I have enough stuff in my life to keep me up at night without inviting more in. Being less distracted means I'm much sharper when working on projects, I'm not making a silly mistake on edits or mixes.
Which brings me to point 9 on the list. I'm more present in the real world with real friends and also with clients and artists. This means I'm a better listener which translates into hitting the ideas target more often than I used to.
In closing, I want to say that this is a personal choice and I'm not here to convince you to stop using social media.
However it's made such a remarkable difference to my effectiveness as a creative, which is how I make my living, I just had to tell my story in case it might be killing your creative edge too?