Breaking Bad...Habits

Photo by gustavofrazao/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by gustavofrazao/iStock / Getty Images

When earlier this year I decided to quit Facebook, I didn't really have any special reason for doing so. 

I was getting a little bit tired of the censorship, and my son was rapidly approaching an age window where he required near constant attention and care. At the time, my wife had also made the call to temporarily kick her own social media habit for about one month, and I was realizing just how much of a time dump Facebook had become for me. 

When I added up the time I was wasting on Facebook, I eventually realized that I was losing the equivalent of approximately $35,000/year. (opportunity cost, not actual dollars) So, when the time came for my wife to begin her social media purge, I followed suit and deactivated my account. 

Although I didn't ever actually log back on to Facebook, in that first week I unconsciously typed "Fa" into my browser and hit "enter" 3 times. By sheer coincidence - as in at the time I didn't know this was an essential task - I was also developing my own "Quality of Life Checklist". Basically, I was replacing the old bad habits with new good habits.

The first two weeks of this process were incredibly difficult. I genuinely had no idea how addicted I was to this technology. In general, the longer a habit has been present in your life, the longer it will take to quit. Further, ending a bad habit voluntarily because it doesn't align with your personal values is almost always easier than doing so because of external pressures. But even as I had pursued the former, the fact that my addiction began in 2006 meant that weeks 1 and 2 of my Facebook deactivation were characterized by some of the physical symptoms of addiction withdrawal.  

Over the years I've become relatively adept at noticing exactly how I'm feeling. My belief is that this stems from a near death experience from when I was 3, (anaphylactic shock) and various other prolonged extreme pain experiences I had in my youth and teenage years, combined with my desire to avoid such things ever happening again.  

During the first two weeks of quitting Facebook, I experienced significant difficulty concentrating (unable to read), occasional minor shakes and headaches, and a near constant nightly sleep disturbance. I realize that it's impossible for me to say for sure that there were ZERO confounding factors here, but to me it really felt like I was going through legitimate withdrawals. I couldn't believe it. 

Fortunately, these symptoms subsided and for the next month I only occasionally thought about reactivating my account. While I continued to implement my "Quality of Life Checklist", for the month and a half that followed, were it not for my wife occasionally selling things on the Facebook marketplace, I would have barely remembered Facebook even existed.

I went 90+ days without Facebook, and when I reactivated my account on July 4th, I scrolled through my news feed for all of 6 seconds, (opportunity cost of about $0,02—yes I did the math) and decided it wasn't really worth it.

I might be back someday, but for now, this seems like a lot more fun. 

Bad habit broken.