I joined Facebook because it promised to be an easy way to stay in touch with friends and family while traveling and living abroad. I stayed with Facebook even though many of the prejudices I had turned out to be true. What I learned, however, is that most of the things you do with Facebook, or allow it to do to you, are your choice.
Facebook offers a lot of opportunities and it is up to you to customize your experience. It’s a little like real life. You can do great things, work hard, be a positive example, help others, or you can waste your time; it’s your decision. The difference is that Facebook is much less complex and occasionally comes with great instructions. So what is it that you struggle with on Facebook and how would you like to turn that experience around?
1. Wasting Time
Because Facebook is so great at what it does – presenting you with the latest information from the people and things you care about – you cannot help but get sucked in and spend hours on reading status updates, peeking through photo albums, watching videos, or playing games. And if you don’t read everything that has been posted to your News Feed since the last time you visited, you feel like you are missing out. This is not a productive use of your time!
There isn’t an easy way to escape from this time sink. First you need to be determined!
- How much time can you afford to spend on Facebook?
- What do you really want to use Facebook for?
- Who do you really want to stay in touch with?
The answers to those questions will reveal what you want Facebook to be for you. Once you have an understanding of what you appreciate about Facebook, observe yourself the next time you use the social network:
- How much time do you actually spend on Facebook?
- What are you actually doing on Facebook?
- Who are you actually interacting with?
Based on your initial idea of what you want Facebook to be and the baseline assessment of what it actually is now, take action!
- Remove items from your News Feed that you do not want to see or that waste too much of your time.
- Stop playing games on Facebook! Yeah, those ones, too. Seriously.
- Unfriend or unfollow people who make you unhappy and dis-Like pages that don’t post anything useful. Or at least remove those updates from your News Feed.
2. Feeling Bad
Facebook is a reflection of who you are and how you think. When you approach Facebook with the wrong mindset, it can make you sad, anxious, and envious. Approach it with the right mindset, however, and it can leave you happier, inspired, and grateful for having so many awesome people in your life. Which alternative would you prefer?
A recent study revealed that people who are more engaged in Facebook, tend to suffer from higher levels of anxiety. This is hardly surprising. Lonely or introvert people with a less intense social life find it easier to connect using social networks. Yet seeing people having an exciting social life in the real world can be incredibly depressing. But it doesn’t have to be!
It’s tough, but you can be conscious about how you approach Facebook (or life in general) and how it makes you feel. It’s a key part of customizing your Facebook experience. Try these tips:
- Envious? Imagine how you would feel if you were the other person. Empathize. Then, instead of feeling envious, try to be genuinely happy for them and cheer them on.
- Anxious? Why? Do you feel like your life is a failure? Do you think you should do better? Don’t be so hard on yourself and stop comparing yourself with others! Rather focus on what is good in your life and work hard to improve whatever is not right, yet. Give yourself some credit along the way and celebrate your achievements. Yes, do post your progress on Facebook and feel your heart jump with joy when your friends encourage you and are happy for you. :)
- Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)? You miss out on 99.999999999% of what is going on in the world right now and you have missed out on almost 100% of what has happened in the past or will happen in the future. Live NOW. Learn to enjoy the moment, decide on your priorities in life, be true to them, and work hard for having great moments.
3. Revealing Too Much
Per default, Facebook shares everything. Whatever you share with Facebook, is shared with the world. And whenever Facebook introduces an update, the default is ‘open to all’. Hence it’s important to regularly review your privacy settings and make sure that privacy relevant information like your birth date, your phone number, or your personal photos are hidden from the general public.
You can easily check what your profile looks like for another person from within Facebook. Go to your Timeline, i.e. facebook.com/your_user_name. You can get there by clicking your own name anywhere on Facebook. In the top right next to Activity Log click the arrowhead to expand the Settings menu and select View As…
From the top left, select as who you want to see your Timeline and Profile. You can enter a friend’s name or view your profile as the public, i.e. a random stranger would see it.
If you see something that you don’t want a specific person or the public to see, track down that particular piece of information and update its settings.
4. Sharing Too Much
Some things should remain private! None of your friends want to hear about your every bowel movement, nor do they want to hear you complain all the time, unless you are really having a tough time and need help. In that case, why don’t you just ask for help? This is probably the toughest one, but don’t Like and re-Share too many Facebook posts. It will drive those people nuts whose News Feeds are inundated with your Likes and Shares.
Remember, if everyone was a little more considerate, we would all waste less time on Facebook.
Fortunately, a recent study shows that around one third of all Facebook posts are self-censored. Another study suggests that self-censorship could be related to not wanting to… cause a huge discussion, offend or hurt someone, or be boring or repetitive. Sounds like a great number of people actually is considerate already!
5. Depending Too Much
Don’t let Facebook rule your life. Make sure you have people’s contacts and birthdates stored outside of Facebook, so you can stay in touch in case you get banned or locked out. Back up your photos and other personal memories, so you don’t depend on Facebook to save them for you. Generally, use Facebook like any other tool, don’t depend on it for your (social) life!
You control your Facebook experience. Make it a good one, but don’t make it an intense one. Facebook is a tool to stay in touch with real people in real life. The goal is to have a real social life outside of Facebook.
How do you use Facebook and how much time do you spend on it each day?