What I learned by taking a month off Instagram and Facebook

calendar with 3 months showing january greyed out

January first brought new year’s resolutions and healthy actions. At my son’s request, I reluctantly agreed to not use Instagram and Facebook for an entire month.

That exercise was helpful and stretching. But it was not the amazing revelation and breakthrough that some bloggers claim… words like “detox” are overstating the point a little, at least for me. I think my dependence on those apps may be less than for some people.

Positive aspects of the break:

  1. I gained many free small moments sprinkled throughout each day. I hadn’t used Instagram and Facebook enough before the break to read a whole novel in my new free time, like some bloggers.
  2. I learned how often I click on my phone’s Instagram app – very frequently!
  3. Feeling the pain of loss most intensely happened during that first week. Not having those two avenues available became less of an issue as the month passed.
  4. Rather than wishing friends a happy birthday via Facebook, I used Messenger, which provided a greater connection in a few cases.
  5. I discovered that I definitely use Instagram more than Facebook. I found myself wanting to click my phone’s Instagram icon much more often than the Facebook icon.
  6. I sent more emails and made more phone calls.

Negative aspects of the break:

  1. I missed out on a few friends’ life events.
  2. I had to look elsewhere for super quick bites of entertainment. I cheated and did keep using Twitter… so my frequency of tweets increased compared to December. However, I actively tried to limit my use of Twitter.
  3. I found myself looking forward to February.

Results of the exercise:

  1. I’ll pare back the number of accounts in my Instagram and Facebook feeds. That will improve the quality of my browsing moments.
  2. I will try to use Instagram and Facebook less. The very fact that quitting for a month was not a huge revelation shows that I wasn’t missing much.
  3. One month may not have been long enough. At the very end of the month, I was at a restaurant alone, waiting for my lunch, and I reflexively had the urge to launch Instagram. That feeling had not hit almost since the first week. But it was still very deeply ingrained.

Caveat: During January, I went on Instagram and Facebook a few times for professional reasons since my work requires those platforms.


Improve your Facebook

Helpful Facebook controlsMany of the people I hang out with use Facebook. Not all know about a great way to stem the flow of messages coming into your stream…

Undoubtedly some of your Facebook friends who are not those you want to hear about every single day of the week. And likely, a few of your Facebook friends are not really friends – but you don’t want to “unfriend” them and cut them off forever.

All you have to do is hover your mouse over the right edge of their latest post. A little X will magically appear. You can choose to hide that individual post, hide all posts by that person or by application (like if they are always telling you of their latest Farmville triumph) – or if you really don’t like them, you can mark their post as spam.

I fault Facebook for not making this option more obvious. I thank them for the anonymity of that control.


My personal Twitter policies

I follow people I actually know.

I usually don’t follow companies I don’t know.

I follow those who follow me who seem to have interesting tweets.

I follow a few who I don’t know who have interesting tweets.

I like to tweet when I have something interesting to say.

And I like to discover new people!

You can follow me here. Or not.


Similar to me?

I was amused that Twitter thinks Donald Miller is similar to me. (If you are a Twitter user, you will recognize that pane – which allows you to find new people to follow – or strangely sometimes puts people there who you are already following.)

True, I thought A Million Miles in a Thousand Years was a great book – enough that I bought a copy for a friend. But I wonder how Twitter thought we are similar?

By the way, the Amazon link is an affiliate link – but not for me. It’s for my friend Jon Swanson. Amazon killed off their affiliate program for Colorado a while back.


Facebook email review

Facebook rolled out their new email feature recently. I got my “you have an email account now” message a few days back. So I’ve been playing around with it.

Refer to the pic – if you double-click on it, you can see it larger in another window at actual size.

a) This is what appears at the top of the Facebook browser window after you click on the “Messages” link near the top of your left home page column. A different aspect to having this feature activated is that when you click on “New Message” in that window or via the Messages icon on your Facebook home page, you can put someone’s email in the “To” field. And even if the person isn’t a Facebook user, they will get your message. (That is an illustration of how Facebook wants to be your message center. If you use Facebook constantly, that might be a helpful feature. I don’t, so it isn’t.)

b) This is what a sample email looks like as sent from Facebook. It shows all your Facebook conversations, whether they were sent through Facebook email or not. As you can tell, my wife and I do not talk much via Facebook. (Rest assured – we do talk a lot in real life.)

c) “Service Unavailable” is what is shown when I type “f” in my Firefox browser address field. (That’s how I normally get to Facebook.) And “service unavailable” is my brief summation of Facebook email.

> The Search Messages feature does not work.

> There are no folders or ways to organize your messages.

> I did not try out the mobile messaging aspect, so I can’t comment on that.

So in short, do not stress out if you haven’t received your Facebook email account yet. You are not missing much. It’s a good supplemental thing, if you’re a heavy Facebook user, but otherwise, no big deal.


Vuka: social media success

Some of you may remember back a few days when I said some negative things about Vuka, a natural energy drink.

I take back what I said! I still sort of stand by what I said about aluminum thickness – but their incredible attention to customers’ needs is enough to easily win over this hard heart.

They read my review and left a thoughtful comment. Then they contacted me and sent a package over… via courier… with t-shirts, stickers, and several samples of the drink. So I have tried it – and it tastes great. It’s a great concept – the first healthy energy drink that I’ve heard of. (I have only tried one Monster drink – and it was close to drinking cough syrup. The chemicals contained in Monster are not necessarily things I like flowing through my bloodstream… not that I’m Mr. Healthy.)

So check out Vuka. Especially if you’re into energy drinks.


PodCamp Denver 1, follow-up

Denver’s first PodCamp is history. I enjoyed leading it – with lots of help.

My single negative comment is that I was not able to attend all of the hour sessions! Humanly-speaking, I was only able to be in one place at one time. And before the next one, we’ll do better promotion to allow more people to come out who would have enjoyed the event.

I’ll quote Kia: All the sponsors were generous in allowing this event to take place and I would like to thank them in no particular order – Greeblemonkey, Human Business Works, Metzger Associates, Colorado Native Lager, Manmade Media, Que Publishing and name.com. Please support them and their enthusiasm to help our community grow, engage, and improve.

Besides the sponsors, I’d also like to thank Kia, Brent, Terry, Marcin and Andrew. Their contributions before and during PodCamp helped make it great.

I’m looking forward to the next one!

(The weird panorama photo is courtesy of Photoshop’s Photomerge filter.)


PodCamp Denver!

PodCamp ideas white boardPodCamp is coming – this Friday evening & Saturday. If you’re in the front range of Colorado and are into social media, come. You can check it out here.

It’s first-come, first-served… so arrive early on Friday evening! We’re limited by the fire code restrictions.

(I took this photo at the last PodCamp in Boulder. That’s ideas for the agenda on the main day. Your idea can be on the agenda!)


Use a real theme

This one’s for self-hosted WordPress users only. (Apologies to the rest of my readers.)

Ever since I started using WordPress for this blog in February 2009, I have been unable to automatically upgrade my WordPress software. (Manual upgrades worked – but they were a pain.) Then I switched to a real theme by WooThemes. Volia! The upgrade worked ultra-fast and with great perfection!

So if you are facing that problem, just change your theme to a more professionally coded theme.