The Mum Network

Fancy Some Facebook Free Time? – By Monique Doyle

Screen shot 2014-03-13 at 4.36.32 PMMonique Doyle is one of the best women you could ever meet and we’re delighted she’s taken the time to write for The Mum Network. She’s a Mum of three, a writer and part-owner of The Cat and Fiddle Hotel in Balmain (Click HERE for their website and get down there on St Patricks for a real Irish celebration). Most importantly, she makes the best drinking partner a gal can ever want! Monique took the month of February off facebook and documented the experience. Enjoy!  

At the end of every year I put together a “Bucket List” of things I want to achieve for the next year.  In 2013 I had 13 goals and happy to say achieved 10 of them.  In my humble opinion, an excellent result.  So in 2014, I upped the ante with 14 new goals (well I carried over 3 from last year but that’s allowed).  Some are big ticket items, others small.  One on the list this year was to give up Facebook for a month, the month being February.  Before I continue, no February was not picked because it was the shortest month.  It was picked because:

a) I love using alliteration “Facebook Free February” and;

b) the alternative was Febfast and I did that last year, once is enough.

I will add, I am not addicted to Facebook by any means but as a mother of boys addicted to Minecraft, I wanted to teach them a lesson in removing one’s self from a daily technological obsession.  Because Facebook can be that for some and for many, I included, you do find that you immerse yourself in it daily.

So how did I go?

Well firstly, what do I use Facebook for?  As I predominately work from home, Facebook becomes your co-worker.  Someone to turn to and “chat with” during coffee breaks.  A form of connection with the outside world.  A comic relief when you have a little laugh at the funnies that are posted.  A reality check when you read the sad stories about the old man on his death bed teaching us his life lessons.   As well as a chance to see how much fun other people are having.  Well actually, the later can be a little downer on a sunny day when a cousin in Ireland is posting his travels throughout Croatia.

But all in all a friendly co-worker who you can shut off at any time when they become annoying, or start bragging to the world that they have super kids.  This comes right after you had the worst morning getting the kids to school who you no longer identify as a human species, but merely a bundled up mess of all the nasty traits left behind in your youth.

So, day one I asked my trusty side kick Nick to change my password so as not to be tempted to have a little peak into the world that I once belonged.  My co-worker took leave and I began the month Facebook free.

And what a fantastic, focussed, free to be me February it was (there is that alliteration again).  The positives that came out of the experience far outweigh the alternative.

1.  POSITIVE: I used my home phone.  Finally I justified the existence of the home phone line, using it to call friends to arrange events.  The downside, it took sooooo much longer to arrange.  An example:   “How does the 10th suit you?”  “Sure, no problem, check with the others and I will call you back.”  “Hi me again, how did you go?”…” Right ok, no problem how about the 17th?”  “Sure, Facebook the others then I will call you again tomorrow.”  “No, I didn’t know Megan was away…. not on Facebook remember… right well how is February 2015 looking for you guys then?”  Which leads to number 2.

2. NEGATIVE: There was a major productivity decline.  So much can be organised with Facebook in two minutes… when relying on the old fashioned way, things TAKE TIME.  Frustration increases and the “all too hard”  button is pushed.  How the hell did we make it out the door in the 80’s?

3. POSITIVE: Massive improvement on conversation. Mid month I met up with some friends who obviously knew what the others had been doing.  But not me!!  Instead of our conversations revolving around vasectomies, who thinks they are perimenopausal  this time, who is going to cave and get Botox first, I actually asked questions like –  “What have you been up to?”  “How was your trip?”  “Done anything interesting lately?”.  Not to mention the added bonus of them knowing little about what I have been doing the past couple of weeks.  So I got to be the centre of attention for a while.  Verbal diarrhea ensued.

4. NEGATIVE:  Missing out.  So when do you invite someone to an event via Facebook alone?  I still had access to my email hello!

5.POSITIVE:  Lightening the load.  This was the biggest positive of them all.  No reading brag postings and feeling like you are not living your life to the fullest.  None of that self doubt when you write a post to find no one has liked it… did I go too far, was it not funny enough…. am I not pretty enough, am I too outspoken (that song takes on a new meaning).

6. NEGATIVE: Stuck in traffic… what now? Best thing about being stuck in a traffic jam (stopped of course and completely safe) is checking your Facebook for a funny post or general catch up.  Then getting a friendly honk or two from the car behind to let you know traffic is now moving one meter forward.  Ah the camaraderie!  With no Facebook however,  all you can do is just sit there, flicking between radio stations and gazing across the mass of commuters observing how frown lines vary from person to person.  Then taking a long look in the mirror to realise that you may be the first in the group after all to get that Botox.

Generally though, it is liberating to be on your own, doing your thing without anyone knowing.  I did miss my co-worker some days.  However, I came to the realisation that she can be unproductive at times and only really cares about herself.  She never even asked how my day was, ever!

Worth doing, yes.  After a couple of weeks into the “back to Facebook world” I must say we have a different sort of relationship now. We just don’t need each other as much, but it is nice to know she is there when I need someone to turn too.

And boy did I teach my boys a lesson or too!  “See boys, so much better to have time away from screens and check into reality more often”, says Mother of the Year.  In the words of my 10 year old, “Yes mum but Minecraft is educational and we are being creative, Facebook is just, well what is Facebook good for anyway?”  Oh well at least now  I only have 13 things left on my Bucket List, tick!

Next item on the list, compliment total strangers every day for a week.

By Monique Doyle

Founder of the Facebook Free February movement 2014

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