Sarah Stultz: Do you think you have a Facebook addiction?

Published 7:57 pm Monday, October 22, 2018

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz


A little over two weeks ago, I began a 10-day Facebook break as part of a challenge given from one of the leaders of my church during our biannual conference.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m on Facebook quite frequently — it’s on 24/7 as part of my job as I try to monitor comments on our Facebook page, look for story ideas and generally keep a pulse on the community. I also enjoy keeping in contact with my friends and family and seeing what everyone is up to. But am I addicted?

When the challenge first started, it was a struggle. I found myself turning to my phone and wanting to check it every few minutes. With the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps, you get notifications every time someone comments on your posts or comments in a group or page that you oversee. You can also get notifications every time someone comments on a post that you commented on. Needless to say, it can get to be a lot of notifications.

I found myself staring at my phone time and time again, wondering what the message was behind the notification. I remember thinking that if my first few hours were any indication of how the 10 days was going to go, it was going to be a long week and a half. Only a few hours into my first day, I decided to remove the Facebook app logo from the main page of my phone and move it to a screen I don’t see often.

That made all the difference I needed — in fact, it was a night and day difference.

Though I can’t say I didn’t think about it at all from that point on, I definitely thought of it much less. And as the days went on, it only got better.

What were the pros and cons?

First, my biggest con: As a journalist, I haven’t had a week in recent history that I can recall feeling as out of touch with local, state and national news as I did that week. In some ways this was OK; in other ways it wasn’t. Out of this sense of not knowing what was going on, I found myself checking multiple news organizations websites multiple times a day — many times more than I normally do. I realized just how much newspapers and television stations rely on social media these days to share their stories.

Now for the pros.

I don’t know if you have gotten as frustrated and annoyed by all the political posts as I have in the last year on Facebook, but it was like a burden was lifted from my shoulders to not have to deal with seeing those from either side during that 10 days. There are a handful of people on my Facebook page who regularly (and often daily) post politically-charged articles from left-leaning or right-leaning sources that claim to be unbiased, and it can sometimes be frustrating for me to see non-credible information be spread at rapid speed.

In addition for the relief from political posts, I found that my mind was clearer during those days, and I was less distracted.

Did I get all my longstanding projects done around the house? No.

Did I catch up on all the books I have been wanting to read? No.

What I did find, though, is that the 10 days helped bring my often crazy, busy life down a notch.

We all know we can use more calm during the chaos of the world these days.

So, if you’re looking to get rid of some mental clutter, consider taking a break of your own for a few days. You might just find you enjoyed it.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.