Diverting Attention

I deactivated my Facebook account a couple years ago. Let’s be honest, all I used it for was to see what old high school and college classmates were up to and would get sucked into scrolling the feed for no reason. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to start giving my undivided attention to things that were important to me. At the time it was my girlfriend and work. Getting sucked into Facebook for 30 minutes at a time did nothing to help me further either of those pursuits.

Research has shown that spending time on social media actually makes us sad and anxious. People don’t post pictures of themselves sitting on the couch, in a slump, eating Ben & Jerry’s, watching the Kardashians. They post pictures of their new house, their European adventure, their expensive dinner date, etc. And when are we more likely to scroll through Facebook and Instagram? When we’re sitting on the couch, in a slump, eating Ben & Jerry’s, and watching trash TV.

We also don’t know the full story. Maybe the person posting a picture of their new house had college paid for by their parents and also were gifted a $100,000 down payment. Without knowing this we might think we’re under earning our peers or not as successful. Or maybe that person has a crushing amount of debt. Maybe the person is posting pictures regularly of their glorified relationship because it’s really not great at all, and putting on a happy face for the world makes them feel better in the moment.

Recently I have turned off basically all app notifications on my phone. Back in the day my phone would buzz when someone would text me, tag me in something on Facebook, for a random app notifcation, etc. I would divert my attention from whatever I was doing at the time to get that dopamine hit from seeing who is trying to talk to me or talk about me.

I’m just as bad at anyone with being distracted. I’ll be reading a book and think “oh crap, I need to do X on Thursday, let me open my phone to put in a reminder before I forget.” And next thing you know I’m scrolling through Twitter for 20 minutes.

I know that for me, and I’m sure many others, we can easily get distracted. Instead of trying to make myself be more laser focused, I’ve taken an easier route – make it harder to distract myself. If my phone doesn’t vibrate every two minutes, it’s much easier to forget it’s even within reach. Spend 30 minutes lost on Facebook everyday (and find out it’s actually not making me happy since apparently I’m subconsciously comparing myself to everyone else), well deactivate Facebook. Get sucked into House Hunters when you want to be concentrating on something else? Don’t turn on the TV to begin with.

Making changes like this can be tough at first, but it’s doable if you prioritize. After more than two years off Facebook, I can tell you I don’t miss it one bit. It’s also a much better feeling to not let my phone dictate when I give it my attention. I’m able to utilize the time I’ve gained back to more fulfilling pursuits that hopefully, in the end, are much better for me than social media.

8 thoughts on “Diverting Attention

    • Yikes. I couldn’t imagine having to be on it for work too! But I guess that’d just make you want to be on it less for personal, so it probably works out fine.

  • I guess I’m lucky. As an “Oldster” I never really got sucked into social media the way my daughter is. I can attest from watching her that it is not particularly healthy, but would like to think that, like Ben & Jerry’s (yum), we can learn to moderate our behavior in a manner that is healthy and that suits our lives. It is hard not to be “connected” (I’m using a smart phone to type this comment), and apparently equally hard not to be too connected. There has to be a sweet spot in there somewhere.
    Oldster recently posted…Do Less and Obsess More?My Profile

  • My husband, Tim, deactivated his account. A fair chunk of his Facebook friends were people we used to play Magic with. We fell out of touch with them, and enough political back-and-forth kept occurring that he just couldn’t take it.

    Buuuut now he uses my account. His excuse is that we know mostly the same people (but I have fewer of our old Magic friends on there). It’s kind of weirdly helpful because he’ll keep me up to date on anything important or particularly funny without my having to go through the feed myself. It actually does save me some time and energy.

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