Facebook is the site millions of visitors love to hate. Strike that: billions of people actively use Facebook – 1.23 billion at the end of 2013. That equates to 757 million daily logins, and 640 million minutes spent (wasted?) on the site monthly. A whopping 48 percent of users login every single day, spending an average of 18 minutes doing status updates, liking content, and posting compromising photos from last night’s drinking binges.
But with all the endless lamenting over how Facebook is a waste of time, the question remains: does it really make you happy? Do all those political rants and kitten videos enhance one’s quality of life, or is it all just part of the incessant clutter that weighs us down?
A creative agency called Just out of Leiden, Netherlands starting pondering that possibility in recent months. Spurred on by reports that Facebook has purposely manipulated users’ emotions, Just has not only posed the happiness question to all of Facebook’s 1.23 billion users, they’ve also challenged us to give up the addiction for 99 days and monitor emotional responses, sans manipulation. For many, the results have been like digital Prozac.
The Birth of an Anti-Facebook Movement
While this isn’t the first time folks have tried to rally against the habitual usage of this mammoth social network, it is unique in studying happiness levels throughout the process.
Because of the recent news about Facebook intentionally changing users’ streams to showcase either negative or positive content, the folks at Just started seriously considering the ramifications. Art Director Merijn Straathof describes how the movement came to be:
“Like a lot of Facebook users, many of us were bothered by reports of secret mood experiments. As we discussed it internally, we noted an interesting tendency: Everyone had at least a ‘complicated’ relationship with Facebook. Whether it was being tagged in unflattering photos, getting into arguments with others, or simply regretting time lost through excessive use, there was a surprising degree of negative sentiment.”
Rather than just lament the addiction, they decided to dig into what really happens emotionally when Facebook is out of the picture. Just is now on a crusade to document what life is really like when one decides to break-up with the biggest social network on the planet.
Join the Crusade to Give Up Facebook for 99 Days
Here’s how the “Quit Facebook for 99 Days” movement works:
1) First, visit the movement’s website, called 99 Days of Freedom. Register as a bona fide participant, and commit yourself to ceasing all Facebook usage for the duration. No cheating, as that will unfairly skew the results. Feeling a bit of panic over the withdrawals? You’re not alone.
2) Next, post a “time-off” image from the site on your Facebook profile; this both evangelizes the movement and communicates to all your Facebook friends why it is that you are no longer commenting and posting up a storm. It may even inspire some of them to join you in liberation.
3) You can also set-up a personal countdown on your profile, indicating your triumphant return (assuming you don’t discover life without the digital leash is simply not worth giving up.)
4) Anonymous “happiness surveys” will then land in your inbox at the 33-day, 66-day, and 99-day markers. These are crucial to the study, so answer them honestly. Although this movement did start out as a joke of sorts, Just is now very serious about logging tangible results in this study, hoping to prove whether or not the social network is a blessing or a nuisance to our overall mental health.
5) Feel free to post early and often on their message boards too; this is a way to share in real-time how the time-off is affecting your life, for better or for worse.
Ask Not What You Can Do for Facebook, but What Facebook Can Do for You
Here’s the thing about Facebook usage: it’s obvious to see how it benefits Facebook itself (they had over $7.8 billion in revenues last year). Have you ever really thought about how Facebook benefits you?
If you’re strictly a Facebook user, that can be a legitimately tough question to answer. Maybe it keeps you more connected to friends and family you would otherwise not have in your life. Maybe it’s your primary source of entertainment. But at what cost do these benefits come at? And is the good and bad in balance, especially now that we know Facebook is not above manipulating our streams and experiences. These are worthwhile questions to consider.
Businesses obviously love Facebook for the massive potential reach, but have you quantified the actual financial impact the site has on your bottom line? As ads have become more costly, is the ROI still worth all the hassle? For many, efforts in Facebook advertising are all in vain, yet it seems like the place to be, so marketers are hesitant to pull out.
Regardless of whether or not you join the movement, it’s a fabulous opportunity to re-evaluate precious time, money, and other resources spent on this insanely popular network. If there’s obvious value in your continued usage, march ahead with full force. But, if you’re one of the thousands of folks who have discovered life is better without Facebook, you now have a movement to prove you’re not crazy.
What is your take on the 99 Days Without Facebook craze?