Facebook is a juggernaut. The company was launched in 2004 as a way to connect students at Harvard. It would soon spread to other colleges in the Boston area and then nationwide for college and high school students. Today it boasts 1.5 billion registered users worldwide. The company has a market value well north of $100 billion. Because of the wide variety of users, Facebook is popular with advertisers, large and small businesses, search engines and politicians. Facebook has worked to create a self contained community where you can stay in touch with friends and acquaintances, make phone calls, send emails, texts and messages, share or send photos, browse the internet, get news, buy goods and more. Just about anything you can imagine doing online can be done inside of Facebook. Their intention is to get you to their site and for you to stay there as long as possible. Facebook also has millions of users worldwide on other sites they own such as WhatsApp messaging service and Instagram.
In 2012, Facebook began to follow the growing trend of mobile phone usage and in doing so spent an enormous effort on their mobile apps and how to better monetize those. As the use of smart phones began to explode, more and more people were migrating their time on Facebook from a desktop to the mobile app. Though it is not the only culprit, Facebook has certainly been a driver in the control our phones seem to have over our lives. You see this everywhere…at dinner tables, in living rooms, at offices or sporting events, and yes even in church where it’s really not important. If phones are present and service is available, people are looking at their phones. One of the largest consumers of time while on mobile devices is Facebook. There are other apps, and especially social media apps, that consume people’s time, but based on statistics, Facebook is a large part of that.
Recently I began to notice how much of my own time it consumed. I would go on Facebook to look for something specific and find myself watching useless videos, laughing at silly memes, scrolling through vacation photos of people I barely knew and becoming irritated at what seemed to often be unnecessary posts or irrational viewpoints. I started to look at some of my statistics on my phone such as how often an app was opened or how much of my battery life was consumed by specific apps and I noticed that Facebook was at the top. The interesting thing is that I was only there to consume. I use a different application (Hootsuite) to manage the majority of my posts to all of my social media accounts. I did gain some benefit from my Facebook feed. I learned of certain prayer needs people had. I was able to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with friends. I could offer encouragement in difficult times. Besides sharing the personal and spiritual growth articles and quotes that I use my social media for, I also found some things that challenged and encouraged me. However, those things are in the minority.
As a part of a larger goal for 2016, I chose to remove the Facebook app from my phone. I am not leaving Facebook. I will still post about 4 times per day with Hootsuite. I will still be able to check my newsfeed on a tablet or computer. But I will no longer have Facebook on my phone. I do not want my phone to control me. It is a tool and has many great uses, but smartphones are consuming people instead of people consuming them. So as of Monday, January 4, 2016, I do not have the Facebook app on my phone.
If I could sum up the single reason why I made this choice it would be this: I want to make sure the people or work in front of me is more important than the people or work that is not in front of me. I do not want it to be a distraction from loving my wife, children and grandchildren. I do not want to be absent from conversations of people at dinner or in a meeting. I have many things I want to accomplish. I have sermons, blogs, and books to write and leadership lessons to prepare. I have a wife to love, a family to grow and friends to enjoy. Facebook may assist with some of that, but I cannot afford for it to detract from those things. If I choose to consume it, that is acceptable. If I let it consume me, then it is destructive.
I am not asking you to join me, but I will ask you if Facebook or any other social app is distracting you from accomplishing more important tasks. If so, consider removing it from your phone. You don’t have to leave social media. Just use it as a tool instead of allowing it to use you. Your purpose in life has to be bigger than the funniest Hillary or Trump meme. Live your purpose. Let other things be tools to accomplish those things. The world will be better off and you will be more fulfilled.