This is how I want to use Facebook

For the last 2 months, I deleted the Facebook app on my iPhone as a part of a casual experiment. Sounds crazy, right? Well, probably not to sane ones, but definitely to addicted ones.

Let me explain in detail.

Being mindful about my time

In general, I’m very observant and mindful about how I use my time. But there was one behavior of a mine I wanted to make sure I’m controlling it rather than it controlling me — the smartphone addiction.

Overall I believe I’m mindful of how I spend my time on my iPhone (my wife may disagree ;)), but still one fine day, I questioned the time I spend on some of the apps I use every day and the value I receive from each one of them.

I use Twitter, Nuzzel, and LinkedIn apps most actively to discover inspirational or actionable articles about startup and product management (the topics I’m passionate about). I also use Quora and Medium once in a while for interesting articles on varied topics. I use Pocket app to save all these articles and read it later when I’ve leisure time on weekends. Apart from these content-specific apps, I use WhatsApp and Facebook pretty actively for messaging and keeping a tap on friends’ activity respectively.

After ranking these apps based on its value I receive, WhatsApp and Facebook ranked last.

I felt WhatsApp is still valuable to communicate with close friends and family with the condition that I opt-out from all groups where sending forwards and jokes was a prominent activity than actual communication.

The value of Facebook

But for Facebook, I couldn’t convince myself that I was being “connected” with my friends the way it’s being advertised. I thought it was happening on WhatsApp on a more intimate level. My Facebook newsfeed is primarily a source for entertaining and political videos, photos of friends’ vacations and parties, and once in a while educational and informative articles/videos. Overall I felt, I’m not getting enough value from Facebook compared to the time I was spending on it.

Having that little Facebook app icon available to tap at your finger tip was a clear invitation to waste 10–15 minutes of your day every single time you open that app.

So I thought — what if I could just get rid of the Facebook app from my iPhone and see how it affects my life?

It sounded like a good idea — and boom, just like that, the app was gone!

And nothing happened in last 2 months. I didn’t miss the Facebook app at all.

Having said that, I’m not saying I didn’t access the Facebook website at all in those 2 months. Once or twice in a week, I would take an effort to open the Facebook.com in the browser on my iPhone. Since the experience is not very great on the mobile web browser, I wasn’t spending a lot of time on it. And I felt that was good enough Facebook consumption for me.

Something changed

Every time I would access Facebook through the browser, I would encounter few updates from Mark Zuckerberg as I’m following him. And most often, I would be inspired by his thoughts, actions, and resolutions. And apparently I’m not the only one. There’re many men who find him as a lifestyle guru.

While I admire his posts about how a farmer in India benefited using Internet.org, I don’t agree that’s how most of the India or even the World is using Facebook. It’s a great story to tell for marketing purposes, but I’m concerned that most of the World use Facebook for passing their time.

Again, I do believe in Facebook’s network effect but realized that it’s better to put that network effect into a positive change than just for entertainment purposes. That’s when I realized, I have a choice to decide how do I want to use Facebook. And there are 2 aspects to it — i) what I should share on Facebook that will be valuable to my friends and ii) what my friends will share that will be valuable to me. While I can’t change my friends’ behavior, but, at least, I can start with me, and hope that it will inspire a few of them to do something similar.

What I plan to do

I plan to share more inspirational and informational videos of all kinds that I personally discover. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a serious person ;). Once in a while, I’ll share entertaining videos too :), but my focus will be on educating and motiving others.

In addition to that, I will share various problems that I observe, and possible ideas and solutions that could solve them. They may be half-baked, but I’ll share it anyways so that conversations will happen and those ideas might get baked by collaborative inputs and wisdom.

I also want to share some of the things that I’m working on and the lessons I’m learning — my day job, my part-time projects, my hobbies, resolutions, etc. I will not just share my success stories or accomplishments only, but will also share my struggles and failures.

What I hope others will do

While I make this my habit, which will take a while, I also hope other people also share similar things so that I and others can also learn from them.

While I’m very proud of people’s achievements when they share them, I’m more interested in hearing about their journey how they got there — including their ups and downs.

While I’m very happy to see photos of their vacation, I would love to read more about how did they plan it, what was their experience like or unique perspective they developed about that location, etc.

Anyways, you got the point. Let’s make Facebook informative, inspirational and personal.

Closing thoughts

We need to leverage Facebook’s massive reach to make a positive impact in the World rather than wasting people’s most precious resource — time, which many of them don’t realize it.

So I’ll be using Facebook actively again — just with a positive twist. And yes, I’ve downloaded back the Facebook app on my iPhone :).


Originally published at aditya.kothadiya.com on March 9, 2016.

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