[Note: Bruce Clark is the Executive Director of Digital Charlotte, an initiative to deliver digital and media literacy endowed by the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte]
For the last four years my work at Digital Charlotte has been dedicated to helping people get online to create new opportunities in their life. Yet last Monday, at the age of 40, I deleted my account indefinitely.
I’m not advocating for you to drop off Facebook. I’m still a Twitter junkie, and love Instagram now and then.
I’m advocating for you to be more present. For me, that meant deleting the app.
About a year ago, I checked the feature on my phone that displays screen time. Mine was over four hours a day. While I wasn’t surprised, I was struck with the feeling that I was wasting my time.
What else could I have been doing that was more important to me, my health, my happiness, and my family?
A friend gave me a copy of a book titled “Make Time” in which the authors explore the topic from the perspective of algorithm designers who have developed methods to keep us from mindless scrolling and clicking.
Facebook controlled my time. I wanted to break free from its feed.
I get annoyed when people have a device between me and them during a conversation, exchange, or in a meeting. I feel disrespected. It makes me want to shut down, walk away, and give my attention to someone else who was actually there.
But I was being a hypocrite. I often had my device at meetings and during time with family and friends.
Over the last year, I’ve tried to be more present.
Facebook held me back. It was a distraction from what really mattered to me. I’ve slowly realized Facebook’s value is short lived. It pales in comparison to a good phone call with my best friend, a face-to-face coffee with an inspiring colleague, a walk on the greenway with my family, or time just doing nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of reasons I’ve loved Facebook since creating my profile in 2008.
My immediate family lives in California and Illinois. Most of my friends and family are scattered across the country. Seeing life updates, pictures, and the occasional messenger notification was nice.
But as I stepped back, it was clear that these fleeting digital moments did not translate into anything more than a waste of my time.
My last post on Facebook read, “I’ve had the same phone number for 15 years, if you have it, use it.”
What I left off was, if you don’t have it, does it matter?