How I finally found a viable solution to keep using Facebook for critical useful purposes and stop wasting time by endlessly scrolling
I have been using Facebook for a long time now. As far as I remember, the first time I opened Facebook was on 2008. At first, I didn’t have that many friends, and I didn’t use it that much. However, this became very useful to me and helped me to grow as a person because I had other sites to explore and find more about communities around the world (Remember forums? Yahoo! chat rooms?)
Many of my generation and later generation do not understand there is a whole Internet beside Facebook and that’s sad :(
I did not become that active on Facebook right away from 2008 to 2010. However, around 2011 I started using Facebook daily. As the mobile phone revolution was happening with Android and iOS going toe to toe — one platform was growing immensely, which was Facebook. When I got my first smartphone, Motorola Atrix, back in 2011 — one of the first apps I installed was Facebook. Since then, I had been using Facebook for a considerable amount of time every single fucking day (for no fucking reason!) I had been spending at least two or three hours pretty much for the last five or six years which even piqued to 5 hours in the last 3/4 years.
When I understood it was time to dial it down
In 2018, I first discovered that I was spending way too much time on Facebook doing absolutely nothing and scrolling my newsfeed endlessly. I thought about quitting Facebook, and I tried deactivating it a few times. However, as my close friends, some of my colleagues, a few Messenger conversation was always happening inside Facebook. Sometimes I had to log into Facebook, which really looped me in to use this platform even more. If you have used Facebook, you know once you are looped in, you spend an enormous amount of time even before you notice it.
So from 2018, I was trying to minimize my time on Facebook as much as possible. As some counter precautions, I started using Facebook from the default Safari browser, ditching the native app experience. I had been using Facebook with Safari on iOS since 2018, because I wanted to experience an inferior version of Facebook, so it discourages me from logging into it every time. I agree that the first few months were tough because everything is much smoother on the native Facebook app on both Android and iOS. And you miss out on some new features and stuff. Nevertheless, I made peace with it, and I kept using the browser version. One of the best things about the browser version is that Facebook cannot ask you for more permissions like camera access or things like that. You can always install some adblockers to minimize the tracking and enjoy some other privacy-focused features like cross domain protection of Safari.
Beginning 2021 with an aim to use Facebook absolutely minimum
Starting this year, I had hoped to do a few different things than previous years. I thought about quitting Facebook and replacing Facebook with some other platforms because I knew I could not leave Facebook. After all, some important things are happening over there. And I have to like log in sometimes. However, I wanted to severe my ties with Facebook as much as I could.
One of my resolutions for 2021 was to use as little Facebook as I could. Everyone read about the news how Facebook tracks it across different platforms, sells data, manipulate you (Cambridge Analytica) and do all sorts of stuff. So I wanted to get off this platform as soon as I could. I’m happy to let you guys know 2021 was a great success for me to break away from Facebook in a really good way.
I started 2021 by joining my new company Poptin where I had been working as a Product Manager, learning new stuff, doing new things and handling a lot of stuff. So this helped too. I could finally focus on more productive things than using Facebook for a long time.
Starting the year 2021
And that’s precisely what I did. Beginning of the year, I started to use Twitter and Reddit more and found my topics exciting topics On Twitter and Reddit communities that I love. Reddit and Twitter have helped me to find content that is more related to me, and that elevates me to learn something new and communicate with some people who have similar interests. This led me to find some great communities which helped me to improve my knowledge and perception of different scopes.
Switching from Browser to Friendly App
I don’t usually buy an iOS app until it’s excellent for me. I found the perfect Facebook app on iOS, which is Friendly. Friendly is an iOS app that helps you to browse Facebook and adds a few nifty features on top of it, like downloading images & videos, hide some stuff and blocking Facebook ads and trackers among other things. But the best thing about the app is it allows you to view your newsfeed by muting a few words which are not available on Facebook natively. This feature singlehandedly encouraged me to use this app over the Facebook on the Safari browser. I could quickly mute words and topics that I do not want to view on my news feed with Friendly. It helped me to have a clean Facebook experience, and an experience I want over what Facebook wants for me.
The final nail in the coffin
Earlier this year, I learned about a new tool on Chrome store that basically unfollows everyone including all Facebook pages, and all your Facebook friends. The extension encourages you to take control of your whole newsfeed.
I first knew about this tool because Facebook was trying to shut it down. When I heard in the news what Facebook was trying to do, it encouraged me even more. I was really curious to try it out. And that’s what I did. I installed the unfollow Facebook extension and in a few minutes I found how to unfollow everyone with single click.
Taking the Red pill
When I was standing on the screen where I can click and unfollow everyone, it was kind of a red pill/blue pill situation from the movie The Matrix. It required a little bit of courage from me to push that button. But I stood up to my decision and I pressed the button that unfollowed every friend, every page, every group, basically from every single people from Facebook.
This was a miracle for me because I was consuming way too content that didn’t actually had meaning to my life and was not adding any value. I was scrolling and scrolling for no * reason for hours. This really helped me to focus on more important stuff and see the world from a different perspective.
I can finally disavow the whole social media as I don’t see anyone. I don’t have to get approval of anything to anyone. I don’t feel the courage to post a new status or photo as soon as I take it. Rather, I can enjoy the physical world. And spend more time with my friends and my family — which matter to me the most. Also, I saw my productivity getting a boost this year.
Wait, does that mean you don’t use Facebook, at all?
Well, no! I tried leaving Facebook for good, but it didn’t work out. I always ended up using it when I deactivated. So ::instead of not using at all, I have trimmed it down to a handful of use cases.
I manage a few groups like Desperately Seeking Dhaka and there are some critical information on Facebook that I often need to make my life easier (say Traffic Alert, selling something and follow some useful pages like The Verge, and some close friends).
However, I only use Facebook nowadays to post something for others to consume, not consume those content myself with endless newsfeed scrolling like before.
Also, I have a few messenger groups that I use to communicate with others. Unfortunately they are not using anything but, Messenger. So I use the platform to communicate with them from time to time.