Like many people, I get sucked into Facebook. I often scrolled through other people’s lives way longer than I was willing to admit.
That is, until a few weeks ago. I came across a video of motivational speaker and marketing consultant Simon Sinek speaking about the sometimes damaging effects of technology, especially about how social media can make it difficult for us to form deep and meaningful relationships.
So I did some reflecting. I thought to myself: How often do I unknowingly ignore my husband or my kids while I’m on Facebook? After I finished putting our baby to bed, I’d almost always log on each evening to enjoy some well-deserved downtime. I often paid more attention attention to my phone then to my husband at night.
My fear of missing out on a Facebook post made me miss out on those special moments with those I love most. It dawned on me that I have used Facebook to enhance my relationships, yet it hinders my ability to fully form them in real life. Moreover, I realized that Facebook wasn’t making me any happier. I couldn’t help but compare myself to others. If missing out on what was happening right in front of me wasn’t bad enough, I was also starting to feel ungrateful for the blessings in my life.
I did a little research and found that I’m not the only one who has begun to recognize the social problems with social media. A recent study found that teens who spend as little as one hour a day on social media (and we know it’s more) are less likely to be satisfied with life. Americans are said to be on their phones for 4.7 hours a day. One study from a couple of years ago found that more people reach for their phones in the morning than they do their significant other.
Getting off social media wasn’t an entirely conscious decision. I just became so busy enjoying other things that I didn’t check my Facebook. Pretty soon, I realized I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I felt freer, happier, and more peaceful. The best part of all is that I have more time to engage my kids, my husband, and other friends.
I do still have my account and log on every Sunday to respond to messages, but I no longer mindlessly scroll through my feed each day. The decision has especially enhanced my relationship with my husband because we have more time to “waste” with each other.
I feel much closer to my husband now. We’ve had more heart-to-heart chats. We will also sit quietly next to each other reading good books, something I didn’t always take the time to do in the past. It has been a joy to stop and share with him a passage that struck my heart, and to hear his take on it.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not anti-technology or even anti–social media. However, they should be tools to enhance our relationships, not something that damages or detracts from them. Technology needs to be our servant and not our master. We need to be willing to make a change if we’re having trouble connecting with some of the people in our lives. I’m happier because choosing to largely unplug from Facebook has meant I feel more plugged into my own life.