For the last few years, I’ve viewed Facebook as a necessary evil. It’s an easy way to update my friends and family and vice versa. I belong to a number of personal and professional groups, including a fitness accountability group that I post in daily. I have pages for my business, and rely on other pages for info about my kids’ extracurricular activities.
But over the last few months, scrolling my Facebook feed has become an increasingly negative experience. I’m not even talking about political posts and arguments in the comment sections. What I mean is that consuming bit and pieces of other peoples’ lives has led me to question my own career, social life, accomplishments…everything. I found myself constantly living in comparison mode, and the worse it got, the more addicted to scrolling I became.
This came to a head during the first couple weeks of the year, when I had more than my usual amount of free time since my spring semester of grad school hadn’t yet begin. After a particularly upsetting scroll session, I googled the phrase: “how to unfollow everything on Facebook”. Lo and behold, I was presented with an extension, aptly named Unfollow Everything on Facebook, that I could install to my Google Chrome browser.
I did so immediately, and watched in amazement as this tool methodically unfollowed every friend, page, and group to which I am connected on Facebook. Now, here’s the key: it is NOT the same as unfriending people or removing myself from groups; I’m still connected to all of those and can navigate to any profile, group or page at any time. Most importantly, this tool completely eliminates the Facebook timeline, so there is literally nothing to scroll.
Even more than a month after the great unfollow, I still find myself opening the Facebook app without even thinking, only to find a blank feed. I do still receive notifications when I am tagged, birthday reminders, memories (love those), and Messenger pings, but I no longer fall into the same rabbit hole/mental health spiral/time suck that I experienced for so long. And that is a very good thing, since I am currently studying to become a clinical mental health counselor.
I have told SO many people about this piece of technology, including my own therapist (who wrote down the name of the extension so she could check it out for herself). The results have truly been life-changing. I’ve never felt more confident, emotionally healthy, and frankly, unburdened, in my adult life. To be clear, I still have a Twitter and Instagram feed, but because they are not made up mostly of people I know personally, they don’t cause the same triggers as Facebook did. Honestly, I have decreased my scrolling across the board, which is good since my plate is once again very full with the semester in full swing.
I’m still human, and there are of course times I turn to my phone to kill a few minutes while waiting for my kids at pickup or before I go to bed at night. But my go-to apps have now become Kindle (I’m reading so much more!) and the New York Times crossword. Maybe this makes me an old lady, but if so, I’m an old lady with significantly improved self-esteem. I’ll take it.