My Facebook “Unfollowing” Party

Four months ago, I sat on the couch with H, venting that I was feeling overwhelmed. Not by any one thing in particular, but by all the little things added up. I did a brain dump of all that was on my mind/plate – skating lessons for J, swimming lessons for both J&C, parent council, book club, 3 friends going through a rough time that I wanted to support, a handful more friends who I had been meaning to touchbase with, the mess at the “decluttering station” (i.e. the dining room, where I had been putting things to sort), prayers I hadn’t made time for, Deacon-related responsibilities I hadn’t yet fulfilled, nudges from God to take on different things, yet I was already feeling overwhelmed and behind on life.

Later that evening, I was doing a “pre-bed facebook scroll”. As I scrolled through, I remembered a reminder I read earlier in the day to remove the negativity from your life – whether it was people, things on your newsfeed, etc. I decided to start “unfollowing” people that weren’t adding value to my life.

Initially, I unfollowed any post that didn’t make me feel good. It included those that were haughty, those that were ungrateful, and those that were boastful.

Then, I realized I could do this more efficiently from the settings page, and was an unfollowing machine. I clicked on the faces that didn’t make me feel good, the faces that were acquaintances from high school or university – only keeping the people that gave me warm fuzzy feelings, that I wanted to support, or that posted really interesting articles.

I refreshed (following ~140 friends) – eagerly looking forward to seeing a newsfeed letting me know what was going on in the lives of the people I cared about.

What I found in the first 5 posts was a bunch of shared Delish/Tasty video recipes and quiz results.

I realized that many of the people I cared about didn’t write too much about themselves on facebook, but rather shared things that were of interest. It was almost like my newsfeed had become a curated homepage of bait click-y links.

Fine, I thought – I’ll just keep it to family, best friends, and my neighborhood mom friends. That way I stay on top of family pictures and know what mom friends are talking about when they reference a recent post. But even when I refreshed that, there were still posts that popped up that I didn’t want to see.

How can I set this so that I only see updates on people’s lives, like the real updates that let me know how they’re doing? And then I figured out…if I want to know how someone was doing – I should either go directly to their page, or e-mail/message them and ask!

Like…connect. For real.

We’ve become such a society of convenience where convenience is often interpreted as things being “pushed” to consumers instead of “pulled” by consumers. For instance, I once watched a Dragon’s Den episode where the Dragon’s were commending a restaurant app that tracked your GPS location and automatically sent you notifications & reviews about great restaurants where you were. Sounds “convenient”, but also sounds like a great way to burn through your bank account. If you weren’t planning to go to a restaurant, why would you want little messages/pings making you feel like you should go or giving you FOMO for not going?

I determined my newsfeed wasn’t giving me daily personal updates on my friends like I thought it was. So then I decided to unfollow the whole lot. Even my husband. Even you.

It was so freeing to feel like there wasn’t a newsfeed I “needed to catch up on”. Sure, I could have just disabled my account…but knowing me, that would feel too permanent.

I like the way I can message friends quickly through facebook. I like that people can still look at my page if they want to. And now I like that if I think of a person and want to see how they’re doing I can look them up specifically or, better yet, reach out to them.

Aside from the beginning “four months ago”, I wrote all of the above in January and never got around to posting it.

So four months later how are things going?

  • I don’t miss having a newsfeed. I can count the # of people I’ve looked up on one hand, but I’ve messaged more to actually ask and see how they’re doing.
  • In the beginning I did find I had more time for the things I hadn’t been making time for. But eventually as life busy-ness, winter sickness, etc. happened I went back to old vices that are time-wasters (I’m looking at you,
  • After realizing that I had replaced a bad habit with a new bad habit, I tried breaking the twitch by not bringing my phone into the bedroom, and charging it in the kitchen.
  • I’ve come to terms that January to April is a busy time in our house. It always has been due to work schedules and looks like it always will be in the foreseeable future…and on top of that I took on a number of new responsibilities in the last year that made it even more busy. Rather than trying to numb the feelings of being overwhelmed and stretched with mindless browsing – I would have been better off sleeping more (though any parent could tell you that the last thing you want to do after a bedtime struggle that lasts until 9pm after a long day, is to get in your pj’s while you’re still fired up… but maybe I need to change my mindframe about sleep and how sleeping early is a treat for my mind and body, vs. “the responsible thing to do”.
  • Self-care during and after busy times is important. I.e. Taking the time to see friends, planning those getaways (big or small), making plans to look forward to (whether they’re at home, at a restaurant, or at a nearby trail).
  • I plan to continue not following anyone, but also need to replace bad browsing habits with reading, sleeping, meditation and stretching.

While I may be a bit “behind” on the latest happenings of what’s going on in everyone else’s daily life, overall I feel I’m a lot more ahead on being present and intentional in my own life.


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