Can deleting Facebook make you happier?

The happiness project

A few months ago, after a couple of glasses of red wine and an evening of healthy debate, I took the somewhat shallow plunge and deleted Facebook (from my phone). I deleted Facebook for a number of reasons; 1) to become more productive, 2) to improve the way I communicate with people, and 3) to see if less social media would make me happier.

The productivity aim is probably the most obvious. Time I’m not spending scrolling through status updates, adverts and cat videos could be spent writing a business plan, going for a run or checking items off my to-do list.

If you’re in any doubt about the amount of time you could take back by deleting Facebook, take a look at these staggering statistics:

  • Each day, Facebook users worldwide spend 10.5 billion minutes (almost 20,000 years) on the social network.
  • Facebook users in the United States spend on average 20 minutes and 46 seconds per day on the site.
  • On average, users spend 6 hours and 35 minutes per month on the network (this doesn’t even include the time spent accessing Facebook on mobile devices).
  • 50 percent of smartphones are connecting to Facebook every hour of every day.

And these stats don’t include “transition time” – the time it takes to shift your focus from Facebook back to what you were doing before. These numbers only allude to how pervasive Facebook is in our lives. Have you ever found yourself checking a notification to only lose 20 minutes scrolling through inane updates you’ve seen before? And worse, have you ever then closed the app only to immediately open it up again? Only me… I would bet it isn’t.

To achieve the second point on my list, deleting Facebook, the social network, may seem counter intuitive but what really gets under my skin is how much communication Facebook enables, but how little it delivers.

The majority of my Facebook feed is irrelevant adverts and irritating videos, but the ‘friends’ who I hear from the most are simply those who are most vocal, opinionated and boisterous online. Facebook has become a place of self, where millions of people are shouting, but nobody is listening.

In order to communicate better with my friends I decided to communicate not by ‘liking’ their status update but by picking up the phone, sending a personalised text message or arranging to meet up. I may have less ‘friends’ online at the end of my experiment, but I do have more meaningful friendships in real life.

Before I address the third point let me say that I don’t dislike Facebook as a concept; over the years it has enabled me to keep in contact with friends who I otherwise may have lost touch with. It’s a great platform for self-promotion, keeping in touch, and sharing important life moments. That said deleting Facebook from my phone has truly made me happier and here’s why:

  • I focus more on what makes me happy, rather than comparing myself to other people.
  • I spend more time working towards my goals.
  • I have developed more meaningful relationships with people that I genuinely care about.
  • I listen to my friends’ opinions rather than reading articles they’ve shared online.
  • I spend more time talking to my boyfriend rather than sitting next to him buried in a screen.
  • I appreciate the value of Facebook for contacting old friends.
  • I have more time.
  • I notice the world around me more.

So give it a go. Delete the app for a week and see if it makes a difference to you too.

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