40 Days without Facebook

For as long as I can remember I have always participated in the Easter tradition of Lent.

Each year, right around the beginning of March my family and friends begin discussing what they are giving up for Lent.  This is usually defined as the tradition of personal sacrifice for the 40 days and 40 nights leading up to Easter Sunday.

This year- I decided to give up Facebook. Trendy I know…but let’s consider why:

I’m not sure who gets to see what on Facebook?

I’ve tried to tweak the privacy settings, I’ve tried to create lists- it just seems so imperfect. I’ve also heard that some users (read: my mom) can see my whole profile while I’m using my mobile phone (which has a separate set of privacy settings) versus using Facebook on my browser- (which has a different set security settings.) So it depends on what device I’m on as to which settings are in affect.

As you all know, there is always a constant chatter regarding the privacy of Facebook.  Occasionally you’ll see a post like this one cross your newsfeed:

With these sorts of warnings to protect against hacking, it really makes me think twice about what I share on Facebook and the ever-expanding reach into our personal information.

(Side note- I’m not sure how I feel about Facebook sharing my phone number and address information with it’s growing list of advertisers.)

Time Suck:

Take into consideration the amount of time spent on Facebook. Imagine the collective amount of productivity lost in any given workday to this addictive website. That’s enough to make you pause…

Facebook is everywhere.

It was almost exactly one year ago that Facebook’s changes to the Like Button went into full affect.

[box]One year later, the Like button has proven its staying power, becoming just as ubiquitous on Facebook as it has on the Internet as a whole. Facebook says more than 10,000 websites add the Like button to their platforms everyday.With more than 2.5 million websites featuring the Like button and a profitability reportedly higher than a tweet, the simple one-click feature has ensured that it will be around for many more birthdays to come. (via Adweek)  [/box]

Now What?

Giving up Facebook felt like such a pointless sacrifice unless I set out to accomplish something more tangible in partnership with my time apart from the online world.

Now, traditional sacrifices during lent haven’t gone away however there is definitely a call for more service as sacraficeduring the giving season.  My purpose was to use the 40 days to evaluate how I was spending my time and how easy it was to make a change.

Time to Give Back

Back in March, I attended an orientation to volunteer at Miriam’s Kitchen who provides free, homemade meals and high-quality support services to more than 4,000 homeless men and women in Washington, DC each year.

Since then I have spent two evenings cooking and serving at Miriam’s as a way to really connect my personal sacrifice with a sense of giving back of my time to the community. The whole experience was very eye opening to the daily issue of homelessness in my own community.

Also, a few weeks ago, my colleague and I spent an afternoon helping out as part of the Muscular Dystrophy’s Greater Washington Area chapter Muscle Walk. The local event raised more than $100,000 and many of the teams are headed by someone with a type of muscle disease, or a parent of a child with muscle disease. It was great to be part of such an inspiring event where these families use the walk as  opportunity to fight back against MD.

Mike Toner Volunteering

So, for the last 40 days- I was off the grid, so-to-speak- and spent my time giving back to the community through volunteer work.

Today, Easter Sunday- I plan to value the time I interact with my friends and family whether it’s online or in real life.  I believe Facebook can serve a good purpose and is an important channel for communicating with those important people in my life.

As far as volunteering, I need to reassess my purpose and continue to grow my personal sacrifices outside of Lent. What other activities could I or should I be volunteering my time with that perhaps offer a more personal connection?


Mike Toner

Based in Alexandria, Virginia Michael is the Manager of Social Media at Navy Federal Credit Union. By evening, he's a husband, dog owner and runner. Toner writes about social media strategy, tools, training and best practices for social and digital marketing programs.


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