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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!

Ask yourself:

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  • 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!

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 Make Sure You're Secure With Facebook's New Privacy Settings - A Complete Guide Make Sure You're Secure With Facebook's New Privacy Settings - A Complete Guide Facebook also means two other things: frequent changes and privacy concerns. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Facebook, is that they’re not really concerned about what we like or our privacy. Nor should they... Read More and make sure that privacy relevant information ROUNDUP: 5 Must-Know Critical Facebook Privacy Tips ROUNDUP: 5 Must-Know Critical Facebook Privacy Tips MakeUseOf has published countless articles on Facebook privacy and security settings. Facebook continuously updates and changes privacy settings and options. For this post I have revisited previous stories to collect the best tips and and... Read More 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 How To Hide Your Personal Information On Facebook How To Hide Your Personal Information On Facebook In the age of the Internet, privacy is a luxury and you have to constantly be on your heels to maintain it. Facebook makes it particularly hard for users to guard their personal data. Despite... Read More .

4. Sharing Too Much

Some things should remain private Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Ah, Facebook. The grandfather of all social networks, where we all share all sorts of weird things without a second thought. Despite its horrible reputation when it comes to privacy, Facebook still manages to lull... Read More ! 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 5 Things People Do On Facebook That Drive Me Crazy 5 Things People Do On Facebook That Drive Me Crazy How does one fall victim to Facebook fatigue? While that's a question that is conditional to the temperament of each individual user, I can bet that experiencing any of the following five antics will have... Read More whose News Feeds are inundated with your Likes and Shares.

Remember, if everyone was a little more considerate 9 Ways To Become More Popular On Facebook [Weekly Facebook Tips] 9 Ways To Become More Popular On Facebook [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook is different things to different people. It's used to stay in touch, play games, share news and stories, or promote brands. What unites almost everyone who regularly uses Facebook is the desire to be... Read More , 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. 9 Ways in Which Facebook Holds You By The Balls [Weekly Facebook Tips] 9 Ways in Which Facebook Holds You By The Balls [Weekly Facebook Tips] Have you ever entertained the thought of quitting Facebook? And how quickly did you dismiss this idea? Most of us don't realize it right away, but we're pretty seriously invested in Facebook. Once we have... Read More Make sure you have people’s contacts and birthdates How To Get Your Facebook Birthdays Into Google Calendar Without Apps How To Get Your Facebook Birthdays Into Google Calendar Without Apps Are you sometimes a little forgetful when it comes to your friends' birthdays? Or do you just like having all the important dates filed away in the same place? Whichever category you fit into, you'll... Read More stored outside of Facebook, so you can stay in touch in case you get banned or locked out Banned: What Happens When Facebook Doesn't Like You [Feature] Banned: What Happens When Facebook Doesn't Like You [Feature] When I interviewed Mark S. Zuckerberg, I thought that he was a charming, polite guy. When he talked, he did so with a typically Midwestern drawl. He has raised a large family and has a... Read More . Back up your photos and other personal memories How To Bulk Download Your Facebook Data & What Information The Archives Contain How To Bulk Download Your Facebook Data & What Information The Archives Contain Following a European court decision, Facebook recently upgraded the feature that allows users to download an archive of their personal data. The archive option has been available since 2010 and includes photos, videos, and messages,... Read More , 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!

Conclusion

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?

Image credits: Nowhere via Shutterstock, Woman Riding Bicycle via Shutterstock

  1. Richard Borkovec
    April 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Don't let Facebook rule your life = Don't use Facebook Home on your phone! Then it will definitely rule your life.

    I also have Facebook as a pinned tab in Firefox, but I rarely even look at it unless I have a notification. Once you break free of a Facebook addiction, you wonder how you ever got so obsessed in the first place, and it's easier to stay away for longer.

    • Tina Sieber
      April 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Very true, Richard! I tried Facebook Home briefly and you can read more about what I learned in the upcoming weekly Facebook tips article. Not amused!

  2. Emilia
    April 26, 2013 at 4:41 am

    Facebook is always changing I need to keep with the changes thanks

  3. MoHammad SHaan
    April 25, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Very true Tina i agree. we get sadness using facebook by watching our our friends enjoying moments pictures or videos.. We can say jealousy.

  4. Debbie
    April 24, 2013 at 12:00 am

    After reading this article, I ask---
    Who would want that Facebook phone?!
    I just don't get how folks could let this stuff consume them!
    (This comment is especially appropriate in re to comment 2 in the article.)

    • Tina Sieber
      April 24, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Totally agree. I tried Facebook Home, the Android home screen replacement, the other day. Even though it's neat and very well designed, it just felt like I had completely dumped down my phone, plus I don't care for my News Feed that much. Total overkill.

  5. Corina Carrasco
    April 23, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I love number 4! There are so many complainers needing attention that I have cut my FB time drastically. I don't really want to hear every single problem or phobia someone has. An occasional one is fine but so many people run to FB when they are depressed or anxious or lonely and want an answer to every single one of their problems. I've also gotten into the habit of set what I want to see on my news feed from each of my friends. That helps, a lot!

    Great article. Thanks!

    • Tina Sieber
      April 24, 2013 at 8:26 am

      Agree. I can only have so much empathy with someone. People who are too negative won't be on my News Feed for long.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  6. Rama moorthy
    April 23, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I too waste too much time in facebook.com .. most of the time my browser have one pinned tab for facebook.com ..
    but I hate facebook ...

    • Daniel Escasa
      April 29, 2013 at 3:42 am

      So do I, that's why I don't have it pinned on my browser.

      OTOH, maybe “hate” is too strong a word. It's certainly got its major annoyances but it does help keep me in touch with family and friends. And, there's money to be made, through social media marketing. Not that I'm into that sorta thing :)

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