Jul 1, 2011

How to detox from Facebook without losing its usefulness

I always complain that I do not have time for studying well, playing my electric bass, doing projects or hanging out with friends. While studying, it happens that I decline a coffee break because “time is running out, deadlines are coming”. Are these useful optimizations? Why should we micro-tune our daily schedules while being blind about macro-losses of time?

Have you ever quantified your time spent on Facebook? I’ve been on Facebook since more than two years, and use it everyday. Being a Computer Science student is a great excuse for also being more social as possible.
I think that I pass about two hours on Facebook each day, being two hours a lower bound. How much do you? Two hours each day are ten hours lost during a 5-days week. This is impressive. How did I spend these hours before subscribing to Facebook? I don’t remember.

Psycho-terrorism when trying to leave Facebook

Unsubscribing from Facebook is an issue today. The great business and technological strategies of Facebook created a value that was missing before but we do not want to loose now: the possibility to do instant, massive communication with people that are dislocated from our position. This can be further concretized in terms of organizing ,long-term events, meeting up after lunch, chatting, sharing photos. I am reluctant to loose all of these.
Unsubscribing from Facebook is terrorizing: we have fear to loose our social connections, being excluded from real-life, concrete events because “Well it was organized on Facebook messages/groups/events, you were not present so I could not invite you”. For the same reasons, new social networks such as Google + will easily fail, no matter how much they are better than Facebook or not.

I observed how do I generally spend my time on Facebook: it is not by answering a participation on an event or replying to important direct messages. I loose my time by virtually hanging around on my friends’ posts (links, photos, videos etc.) or by replying on my posts. So, how can I save all of this time wasted without loosing the great capability of organizing concrete things with people?
I took the following decisions:

  • Blocking comments on my posts
  • Removing the possibility to post on my Wall
  • Hiding all the videos and photos I’m tagged in
  • Activating e-mail notifications for private messages and invites to events
  • Use some greasemonkey script for further cleaning out other non-useful functionalities
  • Use the great FB Purity browser extension

In this way, I don’t lose the great communication and organization facilities that Facebook provides, while throwing away most of its features that make me waste time. I did not completely block my wall because I still think that Facebook is useful for providing useful links to resources on the web, this turning it more like Twitter – that I love.

written by dgraziotin

Dr. Daniel Graziotin received his PhD in computer science, software engineering at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy. His research interests include human aspects in empirical software engineering with psychological measurements, Web engineering, and open science. He researches, publishes, and reviews for venues in software engineering, human-computer interaction, and psychology. Daniel is the founder of the psychoempirical software engineering discipline and guidelines. He is associate editor at the Journal of Open Research Software, academic editor at the Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) journal, and academic editor at the Open Communications in Computer Science journal. He is the local coordinator of the Italian Open science local group for the Open Knowledge Foundation. He is a member of ACM, SIGSOFT, and IEEE.

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