Study Hacks Blog

Top Economists Study What Happens When You Stop Using Facebook

February 29th, 2020 · 83 comments

In the most recent issue of the prestigious American Economic Review, a group of well-known economists published a paper titled “The Welfare Effects of Social Media.” It presents the results of one of the largest randomized trials ever conducted to directly measure the personal impact of deactivating Facebook.

The experimental design is straightforward. Using Facebook ads, the researchers recruited 2,743 users who were willing to leave Facebook for one month in exchange for a cash reward. They then randomly divided these users into a Treatment group, that followed through with the deactivation, and a Control group, that was asked to keep using the platform. 

The researchers deployed surveys, emails, text messages, and monitoring software to measure both the subjective well-being and behavior of both groups, both during and after the experiment. 

Here are some highlights of what they found:

  • “Deactivating Facebook freed up 60 minutes per day for the average person in our Treatment group.” Much of this time was reinvested in offline activities, including, notably, socializing with friends and family. 
  • “Deactivation caused small but significant improvements in well-being, and in particular in self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety.” The researchers report this effect to be around 25-40% of the effect typically attributed to participating in therapy. 
  • “As the experiment ended, participants reported planning to use Facebook much less in the future.” Five percent of the Treatment group went even farther and declined to reactivate their account after the experiment ended. 
  • “The Treatment group was less likely to say they follow news about politics or the President, and less able to correctly answer factual questions about recent news events.” This was not surprising given that this group spent 15% less time reading any type of online news during the experiment.
  • “Deactivation significantly reduced polarization of views on policy issues and a measure of exposure to polarizing news.” On the other hand, it didn’t significantly reduce negative feelings about the other political party.

This study validates many of the ideas from Digital Minimalism (indeed, the paper even cites the book in its introduction). People spend more time on social media than they realize, and stepping away frees up time for more rewarding offline activities, leading, in turn, to an increase in self-reported happiness and a decrease in self-reported anxiety. 

The main negative impact experienced by the Treatment group was that they were less up to date on the news. Some might argue that this isn’t really negative, but even for those who prioritize current events knowledge, there are, obviously, many better ways to keep up with news than Facebook.

Perhaps most interesting was the disconnect between the subjects’ experience with deactivating Facebook and their prediction about how other people would react. “About 80 percent of the Treatment group agreed that deactivation was good for them,” reports the researchers. But this same group was likely to believe that others wouldn’t experience similar positive effects, as they would likely “miss out” more. The specter of FOMO, in other words, is hard to shake, even after you’ve learned through direct experience that in your own case this “fear” was largely hype.

This final result tells me that perhaps an early important step in freeing our culture from indentured servitude in social media’s attention mines is convincing people that abstention is an option in the first place.

83 thoughts on “Top Economists Study What Happens When You Stop Using Facebook

  1. Tiffany says:

    Wow, what an interesting paper! I’m on the second to last day of my 30 day digital detox right now, so I haven’t been on Facebook for a month. I don’t know if a lot of their findings apply to me, considering that before starting the detox, I mainly used Facebook for its messaging service and didn’t browse through it much. I’m definitely going to keep the apps off my phone after the detox is over, but I didn’t notice much more time in my day being freed up. The only significant changes that have happened during this month are that I finished reading 6 books (5 of which are yours), I’m much more tolerant of boredom while waiting in line/eating/etc., and I talk to some people less. My phone’s screentime also went down to an average of 18 minutes/day. Yet, my weekdays still feel full of work and I feel like I’m behind on my classes, so if an hour a day did get freed up somewhere, I haven’t noticed it (maybe that’s just discrete math being hard, though). My happiness levels seem about the same to me. I can’t speak much to polarization of views and following news less since I didn’t use Facebook for news to begin with. So overall, interesting results but nothing that seems to have had a profound effect on me.

    1. Suzanne A. Spinelli says:

      Hi Tiffany, I agree and here’s my experience regarding facebook. I don’t care about it. Social media is just garbage. The whole thing is just a waste of my time. That said, lols, there are some games I play on there and I do use it to look at amusing cat photos. I really have no use at all for any of the ‘major’ platforms; twitter, facebook, instagram…to be honest, they are pretty much all trash to me. if someone wants to talk to me, they can easily call me or text me. I am a gamer, I am a woman in my mid 50s, I am online often to update my organization’s websites and working on coding, so I am not a typical craptastic ‘boomer’ (so just knock that idea right out right now).
      I dislike social media in general because it seems that everyone that has nothing better to do but rile up terrible feelings from everyone else just does that, with no concern for anyone’s well being. It’s a horrible place …and I mean that about *all* “social media”. It’s a pox upon us. Seriously, a pox.

      1. Apelles Pinxt says:

        Yes it certainly is! I use it rarely , perhaps a few times a year and for the original purpose it was intended which is to stay in touch with actual friends , classmates and family. Certainly not as a news source!!!

      2. Jeffrey Nonken says:

        “…I am not a typical craptastic ‘boomer’…”

        Hey.

  2. Nassim says:

    In one of your recent post you talked about the exceptionalism of the Youtube platform. I have succeeded in shaking myself of Twitter, Facebook, etc… but Youtube it’s kind of really hard because there is valuable/educational content here. Abstention is really hard in this case.

    That’s why I’ve started using technology to fight technology. YT Recommendation blockers and the likes. Because I’m a CS student and had a bit of free time recently I’ve made an application called MinimalTube.

    One thing that I see lacking in todays available tools to break Youtube addiction is the time management aspect.

    MinimalTube is a small program that contains
    – A search engine that limits itself to 8 search results.
    – The ability to add and remove videos to a watch list.
    – The ability to calculate how much time investment will the watch list take (in hours and minutes). It will tell you that your watch list will take x hours by summing the duration of each individual videos in the watch list.
    – It outputs your watch list as an html file that contains embedded YT players (avoiding distracting recommendations) that you can open using any browser (on phone/ipad/tablets/computers as well if you send yourself the html file through email to your devices.)
    – It also provides you with links to download the videos for offline consumption.
    – On a phone you can still listen to the videos with your screen shut off as long as you use the alternative (invidious) links that my program provides.

    Its available for both Windows and MacOS.
    Its free and you can get it here: https://minimaltube.itch.io/mt

    Hope this helps people struggling like I did.

  3. Stéphan says:

    I always felt depressed when I was on Facebook. A few days ago, I deactivated my account and tomorrow I will start my 30 days digital detox.

    Before that, I was already applying a few rules to help me improve my analog life.

    1. When my iMac broke, I decided to work only on my iPad. More than one year later, I am still using only my iPad and everything is going great.

    2. I never had a smartphone. Instead, I have a dumb phone that I use maybe once a month if there is an emergency.

    3. In the last months, I deleted all my social media accounts in the last months (Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram). Facebook, a few days ago.

    4. I unsubscribed from all newsletters using unroll.me. Instead, I prefer to use Feedly. I added four blogs, including this one, to my Feed.

    6. I removed notifications from all my apps.

    7. I deleted all the apps that were not useful to me. Today, I have only 22 apps. Some I never use but can’t delete them because Apple doesn’t want me to 😉

    8. I blocked tons of websites (news, social media, youtube …).

    9. I don’t listen to podcasts anymore. I prefer to listen to audiobooks.

    10. I don’t have any TV so when I want to see what’s on the news, I just open the radio and listen to the five minute report of the day.

    11. To improve my oil painting skills, I give myself the permission to watch videos from an oil painter I like three times a week.

    12. For the month of March, I decided to try to not download and upload more than 30 Gigs on my internet provider.

    1. Julie says:

      Thank you for recommending feedly. I start to get too many newsletters and now everything is nicely organized in Feedly. 🙂

      1. Fred says:

        About 90% of my time on mobile is with useful or uplifting articles from related bookmarked websites, after I’ve selectively sifted through Feedly. That app has become a habit.

      2. Stéphan says:

        You are welcome Julie. Feedly is very useful for following your favorite websites and blogs but first I recommand Unroll.me to help you unsubscribe from newsletters.

        Little question; I just came to check here to see if I had any reply to my post because I never received any email notifications. Is it possible to receive email notifications after someone reply to our post?

    2. Davalene says:

      That’s good. I delected my FB account maybe 9 months ago and Twitter about a year ago. I’m on LinkedIn because of job connections mostly. I am reading more too and not missing out on anything!

    3. Apelles says:

      Yes I understand your frustration with Apple bloatware, I’m as a painter as well and I recommend the Royal Academy London podcast, so really great artists who can be candid about their work.

    4. Kevin says:

      Another vote for Feedly here. It has become my go to for most things (including this blog).

  4. Elliott says:

    Hi Cal,

    Just out of curiosity, did the study mention if the participants either increased or decreased their time on ‘shallow work’? (Email, power-points, being a general busy-bee, etc).

    Elliott.
    P.S. Can you send me a copy of your article about emails wasting professors’ time? I got hit with a paywall on the last link you posted. Thanks.

  5. Jianwen Yang says:

    From Adam Grant’s newletter:
    Social Media Has Not Destroyed a Generation (Scientific American)
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/social-media-has-not-destroyed-a-generation/
    On average, social media use has no more impact on teenagers’ well-being than eating potatoes.
    A rigorous, comprehensive meta-analysis (a quantitative study of studies, synthesizing 226 articles with 275,000+ participants) reveals that sleep and breakfast matter more, and smoking pot and being bullied matter 2.7x and 4.3x more.
    The effects of new technologies depend on how we use them. Engaging actively with social media—and feeling in control of it—predicts higher well-being.

    I think the evidence is good. Indeed, social media may waste time, but its positive and negative effect really depends. And overall, things like rumination/worry/lack of problem-solving etc. are more harmful.

    1. KaZ Cruse Akers says:

      I’d be interested to know who funded such a large study. Your last sentence is exactly what people go through using social media: jealousy, FOMO, worry, anxiety, one puma ship, arguments, and much more. My observation when I did use social Media was that the same people were posting many times a day, checking their feed many times a day, answering, countering, disputing, and reporting every aspect of their lives multiple times a day. When I was off for a few days my feeds were littered with post after post, day after day from the same people. I rarely saw anyone abstain for a day much less multiple days, weeks or months. It was like a lifeline, or obsession. Just look at the US President. His posts are akin to mania.

    2. Jerry Lundy says:

      The studies complement one another. Impacts of social media versus other negative impacts (relative impact ranking) is different from measuring the effects of removing one specific social media (change in impact).

    3. Joe says:

      Which article from Orben is it? The Scientific American article you linked to is behind a paywall.

      I’ve read her work, primarily with Przybylski, and the one large meta analysis she released doesn’t actually say what she claims. They published one in February 2019 claiming that social media and device use had no effect, yet their own stats showed mobile device use as more negative that TV viewing and social media worse than both.

      The really funny part is they studied 22 items related to well-being, and the ones that were worse than SM use are: being bullied, getting into fights, binge-drinking, smoking marijuana, having asthma, and perceived weight. Social media use was very high on the list and had a median negative association with well being.

  6. anselm hook says:

    It’s all fine and well to focus on how people “feel” but the underlying facts are that becoming disconnected from your social network means lost opportunities, lost income and other negative outcomes.

    1. Joe says:

      Social media and social networks aren’t synonyms. I’ve dropped all social media yet my social networks appear to be stronger than ever. I’ve even connected with people I hadn’t touched base with in years since dumping social media.

  7. Homer's Representative says:

    Another “research” that aims are finding something extraordinary in ordinary things. That “small but significant impact” is the most laughable of all statements in this “research”. As Homer Simpsons saId: “”Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that”.

  8. My account was disabled for three weeks due to a Facebook ID glitch. It wasn’t anything I caused, apparent since they sent me “We apologize for any inconvenience” message when it was reactivated
    I noticed an improved sense of well-being and don’t intend to use it as much in the future. Even though my hiatus was involuntary, and disrupted my business, I felt less stressed. Weird.

  9. Sailor Jo says:

    The use of unsocial media never was my thing. I spend my time much more directly by seeing people, calling them, or using text and email. My intake of news is through an international TV subscription that I prefer much over the dumb US stations. The big advantage of international stations is that they are not biased and not ideologically poisoned.

    1. Davalene says:

      I wasn’t aware that you could get an international TV subscription. Good to know because I feel the same way about the content of news here vs. abroad. I’m reading a book titled The Liberation of Paris by Canadian author Jean Michael Smith. I’ve said several times while reading, I didn’t know that. I see a depth in his writing and emphasis on facts.

    2. Read Zizek says:

      I also prefer foreign news sources, but be careful – they are still filled to the brim with ideology. It may be more subtle or harder to recognize than what we’re used to in the US but I promise you, it is there.

  10. Gee says:

    This goes to show you how screwed up Americans have become. To get so personally wrapped up with unimportant things like social media shows people have real issues. Wondering how much their education plays into (this is on liberals) this and how being raised without earning anything. Remember those trophies for last place? Well, guess what, losing plays an important learning skill in life. How to lose and learn how to deal with it. Then learn how to win! Giving people something for nothing has no meaning, but let them earn it, now that’s an accomplishment and has real meaning. Study high lights high far we have fallen….

  11. I have less than 50 people with whom I interact regularly on FB, and it’s mostly non-political. OTOH, I am in two groups that are specifically about third-party issues.

    On the third hand, I joined MeWe to further distance from Facebook, not because of overuse, but because Facebook is Facebook, with all of its corporate ethical failings.

    On the FOURTH hand? I use Twitter. A lot.

    I’d be interested to see similar research about Twitter.

  12. So pleased I left and am never going back. No real impact on me other. I connect with real friends, am not bombarded with politics, opinion, and disagreements. I spend much more time reading, writing, and discovering wonderful films, documentaries, and memberships like a yearly pass to the Kennedy Space Center.

  13. Johnny says:

    FB provides a “sense” of community, which is better than none. But as much as Zuckerberg has allowed, when the government forces him to, you can’t let it push you around, give it too much info, etc, and especially hang out on it for too much., Balance is everything, not all or none..

  14. Bebo says:

    I need a like button for this post ?

  15. Kurt Jagielski says:

    Facebook was enlightening at first and allowed me to connect to old friends and acquaintances, and that was great. But after a few years the novelty wore off and I eventually became turned off by the extreme viewpoints, bickering (sometimes hateful), postings that are mean or designed to intimidate, life-bragging, silly requests, lost minutes (or longer) each day I couldn’t get back reading ultimately pointless postings and commentary, as well as the personal data-mining and Russian intrusions allowed by FB.

    I went off-grid and ultimately decided not to log back on after recognizing the same benefits identified in the study. Although its been a couple years since I was last on FB, I have yet to close my account, but I will likely do so in the not-to-distant future.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but logging off was liberating. I prefer text, voice, or e-mail to keep in touch with a select group of family and actual friends. And I get my news from TV like I always have, particularly PBS.

    1. Davalene says:

      Yes, PBS is a news source you can trust. I was telling my adult son by phone tonight how you used to be able to tune into the various news stations (NBC, CBS, ABC) and actually get factual news. Too much junk out there to clutter your brain and suck up your time. Left FB and Twitter w/in the last year and with no regrets.

  16. I would love to be in a Facebook group and earn $$$$!

  17. Wayne Durrheim says:

    I deactivated my FB account about a year ago and have found that I actually have no interest in consistently following social media – I found FB annoyed me because I just could no longer stand the trash people posted – am I happier – yes and more importantly I feel free from social media – would I ever reactivate my account – nah don’t need it – FB was like smoking- it’s bad for you and a time suck – I feel liberated

  18. Jeffrey Isaac says:

    There is a trade off between what a FB user gains and what they lose. This survey is designed to focus on the negatives. People vote on this everyday by choosing to use social media. Is it addicting- sure. Is it bad for you? Only if one over indulges- like anything else in life.

    Act responsibly? Now that would be asking too much- for those that want to over-regulate our lives and live in a nanny state- where liberties are sacrificed for the greater good.

    Soda is addictive and bad for you. No uproar there- as it doesn’t sell eyeballs. Journalism has sadly degraded.

  19. Crystal G., RN says:

    The only reasons my daughter and I are on FB at all is to follow my great-grandkids and their family. There are times I have gone more than a week without getting on unless the other daughter emails me. Wouldn’t bother me if FB went away . . . well except maybe for all the cat forums and pictures of kittens!
    On the other hand, touch Pintrest or Email and the fight will be on!

  20. Very interesting study Cal. There are of course a couple limitations.

    It’s impossible by design for a study like this to be double blind, so we can’t rule out some confounding psychological effects of quitting FaceBook (if you know you’re quitting, it may bias your interpretation of your subjective well-being). Considering especially there would be (I strongly expect) a small selection bias in the participants (those who are more cognisant of the negative aspect of social media use may be more driven to participate).

    I suppose they would go into more detail about these limitations in the article.

    Very interesting study otherwise, and nice data driven support of your central thesis.

    I think studies like this are a good example of science catching up with common sense.

    I’m sure it was also nice to see your book referenced in such a prestigious publication Cal. Nice work.

  21. Scott says:

    For different reasons than others might have, I deactivated FB and Twitter cold turkey about 45 days ago and have no interest in returning to either one. However, my reasons were different for each:

    For FB, my reason was privacy and their unwillingness to address their bad habits.

    For Twitter, it was due to the toxic nature. I followed too many people posting/responding to/with political comments and it was unhealthy. I love having the vitriol out of my life.

    For the record, I also removed Google from my life (well most of it) for privacy issues. Firefox and DuckDuckGo fill the void nicely.

  22. I don’t know how many years have passed since I left Facebook, but I bet they know. They record everything.

  23. CGTII says:

    The supposed “negative” effect of not being up-to-date on current news is amusing. “News” that comes through social media platforms should be treated with suspicion. On the other hand, when people re-discover how to do the kind of high-quality research that enables them to form an accurate picture of the world, they will be much better off. As you said, “there are, obviously, many better ways to keep up with news than Facebook.”

  24. Peter Grosfeld says:

    Glad you did this report. I stopped using all social media over 2 years ago. Much happier today!

  25. John says:

    I stopped using social media a year ago and realized that I can actually tolerate views that are different than mine, and even appreciate them to a certain extent. When someone challenges mine or tells me my politics are incorrect I no longer go off the handle or “cancel” people. Instead I appreciate the nuance and elaborate on them. If talking to a fellow quitter/non-user of social media we can always come to an agreement to disagree, but hardcore Facebook and Twitter users will still lose their minds if they hear views different than theirs.

  26. kasi Satya says:

    Facebook platform has become nothing more than an excuse for so called social interaction. It provides more of a podium for trollers and haters to spew their uninformed self important opinions with no accountability. Also the uninformed users of FB when uploading photos have just given Suckerburg and other cyber bandits a vehicle in which to scrub all your information onto dbases used to gather information and specifically for facial recognition companies. Suckerburg and his FB do NOT care about you, but he sure as shit wants all the information you are uploading so he can make billions off your ‘free’ social medial. Wake up people really.

    1. Amy Stockwell says:

      For these points in great depth, read Zucked: waking up to the Facebook catastrophe by Roger McNamee . Cal talks about the toxic personal effects, McNamee goes into the toxic social effects.

  27. Helen says:

    How interesting. I had a nightmare from a post (animal cruelty) so I stopped. Just like that. I check my notifications for anything I must respond to (business) but I don’t go into the feed. 3days now. I might share thoughtful articles (like this) but my involvement in FB was largely driven by the catastrophe here in Australia and the politics of that and the world. My stress is down. I feel better. I won’t be going back.

  28. I’ve been using Facebook since 2005 but still haven’t been a heavy user despite all of the years. I’d regularly go many months without even checking my Facebook feed. I was utterly surprised several years ago when the news that Facebook became the most visited website even over Google since I usually used Google to find what I wanted to see rather than seeing what my friends shared.

  29. George says:

    Guys, I find that I do tend to spend a lot of time on the web, on a daily basis, scouring for recent news stories. Why bother, right? On a serious note, I do like to stay up to date with current events. I would like to just view a news site once a week on a predetermined day.

    Are there any news sites you guys would recommend that is broad in its coverage. Politics, sports, tech, etc.?

    1. GE says:

      George, I use Refdesk.com for my current events and up to date news. It provides a brief link to trending news and events, and it provides the user the ability to change news feed sources from AP, to CNN to NBC to BBC, etc. It has been helpful for me and it provides great information about popular websites, and a motivational quote to boot. It has become my homepage….

    2. Joe says:

      Another option would be to look at sites like Allsides.com and Vanessa Otero/Ad Fontes Media. Both have solid visual charts that display not just a rating of left vs right bias but also news vs opinion.

      I’ve gone one step further and dropped down to just expensive print subscriptions (The Economist, Financial Policy, Chronicle of Higher Education).

    3. EA says:

      Get a print subscription to a newspaper (I recommend the WSJ and a local newspaper)

  30. Louis Bricano says:

    This seems like bollocks to me. The Facebook usage described does not match my own, nor that of any of my FB friends. I don’t use it to consume news, nor (as far as I can tell) do any of my FB friends. We really do use it for what seems to have been its original intention, which is to maintain social connections. 95% or more of my FB activity is to interact with long-ago friends and colleagues with whom I am now geographically distant. As nearly as I can tell, that’s how they use it, too.

  31. Tania says:

    I left Facebook about 2 years back. I had been on the platform for about a year and I remember that all I did on it was nonsense. I felt more at ease after leaving the platform because now I knew that I would also create less troubles for me.
    1.I remember how I had a fight on this platform with one of my school mates about something very nonsense, had it been not so convenient for me to get in touch with that senior I could have avoided the embarrassment that I hold now.
    2. After a while when I stopped receiving messages from others and likes I felt very sad. I remember that. I used to fell bad about how other people have so many fun comments on their picture and I have none. Slowly and slowly this platform became boring for me so I left it. Now I don’t even bother about anyone and their comments.
    3. I used to waste a lot of my time and I was getting disconnected from my real world, my friends and my family. I am so happy that I left that platform. It had made me very self conscious.

  32. Ollie Jones says:

    Dear research team:

    Did you find any evidence of economic loss among your test subjects? Did they lose
    employment or business opportunities by ignoring FB? Did they lose the ability to buy or sell anything of note? Anything like that?

  33. Henry Pan says:

    Really?

  34. Joe Weems says:

    My church gave up social media for Lent last year I turned off my notifications and never turned them back on. I now only check FB maybe once a week, but I’m only on for a couple of minutes. I have found that I’m much happier now. Especially getting away from all the political posts and ads. I got away from twitter too. It was so negative and full of hate. The time I spent on social media is now spent on reading the Bible.

  35. susan says:

    I deleted fb awhile back. while the idea of staying in touch with old friends, relatives, former coworkers and people who share your interests is appealing, the reality of fb is that it a pernicious influence on all aspects of society. when using it one should be mindful that its actual purpose is to influence your buying decisions through advertisements and influence your thinking through the “news feed.”

    I truly doubt that US politics would be as nasty and siloed as they are absent fb. twitter too, but to a much lesser degree.

    Zuckerberg is an entirely amoral human who has said publicly that he does not care about truth and that he does not care about privacy. that is enough to convince me that he is not fit to wield the power of a social network used by 25% of the world’s population.

  36. Alfred says:

    Not trying to make enemies but all of these >30 comments condemning FB and other social media are in fact socializing on media. Deep down all the complainers/detoxers are part of the process, adding their own comments/complaints to this article is nothing more than using social media it just isn’t on FB. Now get off the computer and plant some veggies out in the yard, or flowers.

    1. Joe says:

      There’s a massive difference between a social media service with likes, feeds, etc. and commenting on a blog post. If you can’t see that then no explanation is going to help you.

    2. Scott says:

      There’s also a massive difference between a blog open to user comments (feedback) and the privacy abusing, and incredibly addictive (by design) of SM.
      Running down a FB feed- Burning ones thumb(s), clicking hearts and likes to Memes that you forget in 20 seconds, and never APPLY to your life anyhow, is VERY different than a thoughtful interaction with others here.on this blog.

      Mic drop.

  37. Lucas Herculano says:

    I’m currently doing my Facebook digital detox since I have heard word by word from Digital Minimalism.
    It’s nice. I’ve started to exercise more. When I do not have classes in the morning.
    More Focus on my Job. And even my concentration studying is higher now.
    The one thing is that now I don’t have much touch with my peers. I’m still using WhatsApp since that is no other way to talk with my Family and Friends.
    Here in Brazil, everyone is living in a Digital immersion, and people usually think Internet is just Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… It’s something sickly and morbid.
    I’m 27 now and since the twelves I’ve managed to use Orkut, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit. That are the ones that I can remember now.
    My mind need that rest. I need that rest. So let’s do It!

  38. J R Smith says:

    I closed my FB account just about a year ago. I did so after much reading and researching about data mining. I was shocked & disturbed at the level of manipulation that the average person doesn’t realize is happening to them. I, then, switched my browsers to Firefox and Tor and use DuckDuckGo as a search engine, due to their emphasis on privacy. I rarely use Google based sites and, if I do (mostly You-Tube for instructional matter), I go in and delete my history regularly. I never got involved with Twitter or Instagram. I have a “ dumb” pay-as-u-go cell phone & restrict sharing my number as I still utilize a land line. I use different devices for different web-based activities because mobile devices such as an iPad don’t let you choose the browser that you prefer when clicking on a link (default for that is still Safari). I established an encrypted email service for all my personal interactions & subscribe to a VPN, as well. Some of these things make the web a bit more difficult to maneuver but I value my privacy more than convenience or “ likes”. I’m also of an age when I remember life without the web.

    1. Scott says:

      J R Smith…
      I literally roll the same way on all you practice minus the landline (so far).
      I remember when the “answering machine ” message said “were not nome right now so……..”
      A time when you were” WHERE YOU WERE”!! (present).

      Regarding use of FB and the rest of the (anti) Social “platforms” I see a clear link to those who use them daily (read – addicted to distraction) and these users goals and dreams remaining just that…..distant , unreachable goals and dreams. WHY?
      Because “the journey of 1000 miles begins with one step”, but becomes derailed with endless notifications and distractions.

  39. Laura Wenner says:

    This piece resonated with me. Before I had heard of Cal, I wrote a funny essay about a fictional character who quits Facebook cold turkey. It’s called “I, Emoji: Is there life after Facebook?” She finds that with more time on her hands, she starts participating in, as Cal would say, high-quality leisure (I did not know about this concept until I began reading Cal’s work. Here’s a little sneak peak:

    “Recently I quit Facebook cold turkey. Psychologists suggest that looking at the carefully curated lives of friends and acquaintances every day can be bad for our mental health and the security of our democracy. So I decided to take the challenge. Would deactivating my account make me a happier person?

    You bet your bots it did. Right out of the gate, I had more time on my hands. Free from all that scrolling, my thumbs felt springy and light. I immediately practiced opposing them on a variety of natural surfaces. I took up embroidery and, to my surprise, crushed it. I discovered that I am a natural freestyle dancer. I watched YouTube videos to learn how to do the Michael Jackson “lean,” and it’s really catching the eye of everyone at Trader Joe’s.”

    Here’s the rest:

    https://medium.com/@laura.wenner/i-emoji-92b98c280642

    (I hope I’m not breaking any “self-promotional” rules on this blog . . .I promise it’s very relevant to this particular study! I think Cal’s readers will find it enjoyable.)

  40. Judith Button says:

    JLButton I closed my facebook account months ago I spend more time doing other things like gardening I found that I was on facebook to much like I was spending a few hours every day on it and didn’t have time for anything else I was getting heaps of rubbish on my account plus I was getting posts from friends I knew on my messenger that was ignoring I was receiving so much of it in the end I put a message on facebook that I will delete the posts but they kept coming there were posts on facebook that I felt shouldn’t of been there like cruel animal posts Like I felt I didn’t need this rubbish any more just a waste of my time I have freed up my time and I feel so good about it

  41. NY Hermana says:

    Well, I come from a MASSIVE family and have a huge network of friends on a global scale. Facebook allows us to connect and share our lives. I now know my Nephew is expecting his first child, my friend is having lunch with his Son in Belgium, my Cousin sent a message from Afghanistan… a friend is having a tough day (fighting cancer)- I send encouragement…So, overall it’s good. Yes, there’s privacy issues, but I do not fear or feel negative. I do spend time living life; hiking, meeting friends face to face…

  42. Mssadiq says:

    My church gave up social media for Lent last year I turned off my notifications and never turned them back on. I now only check FB maybe once a week, but I’m only on for a couple of minutes. I have found that I’m much happier now. Especially getting away from all the political posts and ads. I got away from twitter too. It was so negative and full of hate. The time I spent on social media is now spent on reading the Bible.

  43. Rahat ullah khan says:

    Hi There, Every One Reading this Message…Greetings..
    Social Media is Not used as we people invented it…But it is used Now “Speak Your Mind” like acts.
    Earlier to that, we were not so open to express our Inherent Opinions in Public…But due the Social Media Tools, it became possible. In addition, Easy…
    We never bother about others feelings now a days.. We are same as we were earlier to this Facility of “So Called Social Media”.
    It has many points inherent in this Tool. It is a Tool with no boundaries. Earlier it was happening commonly as well, it never absents. “It” Means the one our , conscious which is basically designed to do the same. .it is a common mentality of every one . Everyone wants to do badly but, the factor who stops seldom by doing such act is a “FRAME”, Frame is the society from where the one belongs. In Social Media there is No Boundary to express the feelings and thoughts, No any type of ethics are followed, the only type of Ethics are followed “Because of DNA Structure” who provoke the one with full of energy , Either Positive or Negative, the choice is also have no boundary , People connect immediately as per their inherent properties.
    So abusing the Social Media Tool is Difficult..
    I can claim that due to the use of Social Media all type of Crimes are not only arouses but people get a proper Hints , Guidelines and sometime motivated to doing what they actually wanted to do in any part of their Life.
    So the matter is not the Detoxification of the people ‘ which comes in the category of business not any social service..
    We have to work on the institutions not on the people…We have to work on the source of Intoxicants, which need to be implemented with proper structure.
    Agencies encouraging such thoughts and acts need to be work upon their way of working.. The methodology to be adopted is not to correct every one …correct the tools , Methods and Means of prevention of such acts..
    Otherwise blaming social media is not an effective means of responsibility…
    Rehabilitate the SYSTEM; REST WILL COME OK AUTOMATICALLY…

  44. Sandi B says:

    I’m on Day 18 of the 30 Day Blackout. A friend called to tell me she was texting the link. I was a Facebook addict. I’m 56 & travel internationally for work & it’s always been how I stayed in touch. No more. In this 18 days my work productivity (I’m the CEO of my biz) has increased by 200%! The stress from always “feeling behind” is gone. And with what is happening with the C-19 virus, I could not have picked a better month to go dark!
    I’m allowing myself 1 hour of live news coverage a day, but must be done by 830 pm.
    I’ve reconnected with so many people, because we’re actually TALKING on the phone!
    My stress, my well being and my sleep have all tremendously improved. Not sure if I’m going back on April 1. If I do, it’ll be with strict, self-imposed limits.

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