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An Argument for Quitting Facebook

January 29th, 2010 · 103 comments

Deactivating Facebook

A Bold Decision

At the end of his first semester at Penn, a student whom I’ll call Daniel was disappointed to learn that his GPA was a lackluster 2.95. Following the Study Hacks orthodoxy that study habits should be based on evidence — not random decisions or peer pressure — Daniel asked himself a crucial question: What are the better students doing that I’m not?

When he surveyed his classmates, he noted something interesting: “the high-scoring kids weren’t on Facebook.”

Emboldened by this observation, Daniel decided to do the unthinkable: he deactivated his Facebook account.

His GPA jumped to an exceptional 3.95.

In this post, I want to share the details of Daniel’s story — revealing what actually happens when you quit one of the most ubiquitous technologies of your generation. I’ll then make the argument that although most students don’t need to leave Facebook, every student should at least give the idea serious consideration.

The Reality of a Post-Facebook Existence

Daniel’s decision to leave Facebook wasn’t easy.

“I was worried that I would be out of the loop,” he admits. “That I would miss event invitations, not know what was going on with my friends, or be able to effectively lead the organizations I run.”

What really happened?

“Well, as expected, I did miss some invitations to events,” Daniel recalls. “But my friends would forward me invites, and I never missed anything crucial.”

“I also didn’t lose any friends, or even really lose touch with anyone. I still had e-mail and a phone, and I see these people every day.”

Daniel’s mom, not surprisingly, was “ecstatic” about the decision, while many of his friends were shocked. “After my deactivation,” he recalls, “I started getting texts that demanded: WHY DID YOU DEFRIEND ME!? WHERE IS YOUR FACEBOOK!?”

But pretty soon people stopped caring. They had their own lives to lead.

The Monastic Pleasure of Post-Facebook Studying

In contrast to the mild negative effects to his social life, the benefits to Daniel’s academic life were significant.

He was initially worried about “symptom substitution” — the idea that with Facebook gone he would simply find another online distraction to fuel his procrastination.

But this didn’t happen.

“After clicking around the web for a bit, I would become incredibly bored,” Daniel recalls. There’s something about the “endless trickle of messages” served up by Facebook that proves especially addictive. Without that steady supply of attention crack, it became easy for Daniel to “swear off the Internet.”

Consider, for example, a calculus final he faced during his first Facebook-free semester.

“With the time and concentration I regained, I was able to hunt down and complete problems from 20 different practice final exams, and then get tutoring on any issues that remained.”

The average grade on the exam was a 34. Daniel scored an 80.

He has since persuaded several friends to follow his lead in deactivating their accounts, and they’re enjoying similar boosts to their performance.

A Different Way to Think About the Technology in Your Life

I recently received an e-mail from a high school student who estimated that her Internet-obsession was slowing down her work by “a factor of 5.” When I suggested that she ask her parents to unplug the modem until her homework was done, she balked.

“I can’t do that,” she exclaimed. “I have to hand in assignments for one of my classes online, and there are really good web-based dictionaries I use for my Spanish homework.”

Take a moment to ponder this reaction.

This student was experiencing extreme suffering and poor performance because of the Internet. Yet, she judged the trivial inconvenience of plugging in a modem before submitting a completed assignment, or using a slightly less effective paper dictionary for her Spanish homework, as outweighing the exceptional benefits that would be yielded by going offline.

To me, this reaction captures the problem with ubiquitous technologies, like Facebook, that make claims on your attention. To many people, the burden of proof falls on the Ludditeyou better have a pretty damn good reason for eschewing this technology! Like the girl from above, or Daniel’s shocked classmates, any inconvenience generated by opting out of a popular technology can be a sufficient argument for maintaining the status quo.

I argue the you should reverse this logic: before adopting a technology that can make a regular claim on your attention,  insist that its benefits unambiguously outweigh its negatives.

It’s important that I’m clear: for many students, this assessment would lead them to keep Facebook in their lives — they get social and entertainment benefits from the service, and because they have no problem turning it off while working, they suffer few negative consequences.

For students like Daniel, however, who discover that the technology is wreaking serious havoc, there should be no hesitation to quit.

This same philosophy led many professional thinkers and writers, including Alan Lightman Donald KnuthNeal Stephenson, and Leo Babauta to quit e-mail. In their line of work, the benefits of e-mail were swamped by the negative effects. Their criteria was not, “is there anything bad that would happen if I quit e-mail?”, it was, instead, “do the benefits outweigh the negatives?”

My bottom line here is simple: Technologies are great, but if you want to keep control of your time and attention have the self-confidence to insist that they earn their keep before you make them a regular part of your life.

(Image by Etienne)

103 thoughts on “An Argument for Quitting Facebook

  1. Casey says:

    Excellent points. Random note: I enjoyed the World of Warcraft ad that was showing alongside the article while I read it ;)

  2. Jamie says:

    I quit facebook to write my PhD thesis – and now I spend much more time reading sites like this, getting Google Reader to suggest new stuff to read etc…

  3. Nazim says:

    This post is life-changing to be perfectly honest. Just deactivated my Facebook. :)

  4. Lisa Marie says:

    Although I’ve found in the past that facebook is extremely distracting, getting rid of it would be difficult as its really the only networking outlet I’m using. My friends use two things: fb and texting, and since I don’t have a cell, quitting facebook would probably leave me out of the loop. I wish there was something on facebook that would limit daily usage to a certain amount of time per day, such as 15 min in the am and 15 at night. I try to do that on my own, but its addicting.

  5. Study Hacks says:

    I enjoyed the World of Warcraft ad that was showing alongside the article while I read it

    I’m endlessly amused by the ads that rotate through that spot.

    I quit facebook to write my PhD thesis – and now I spend much more time reading sites like this

    I give you permission to stop reading this site too! But you have to promise to return when you’re done with your dissertation…

    I wish there was something on facebook that would limit daily usage to a certain amount of time per day, such as 15 min in the am and 15 at night. I try to do that on my own, but its addicting.

    I have faith that you can make self-limiting work. It helps, I’ve found, if you do daily time-blocking in the morning with a clear work cut-off point. You can then tell yourself that once you’ve reached the cut-off point you’re free to do whatever you want, including facebooking until your eyes bleed.

  6. Ryan McLean says:

    Adding the Pomodoro Technique has allowed me to keep distractions in my life, like Facebook, but keep them at bay. It’s probably not for everyone, but it’s helped me a lot. Durring my Pomodoro the phone goes on silent, no vibrate, and get put face down away from where I’m working. If I have an urge to open Facebook, I open it and minimize that window (Net time loss, about 4 seconds) — so I know it’s waiting for my 5 minute break.

    My first week or so with Pomodoro was not any more productive than before using it. I’d “cheat” on my Pomodoros or take extra-long breaks. I stuck with it though, and within a week or two my productivity had increased significantly!

  7. Meg says:

    I found deleting my very active blog to be one of the better things I did, productivity-wise. I still have a Facebook, but, inspired by another article on the subject, I have asked my husband to change the password every Sunday and only gives it to me on Friday after work. I get so much more reading done now.

  8. Vincent says:

    I guess the impact of Facebook on your academic success depends on discipline, and the rigor of one’s academic program. However, I think the “big wins” when it comes around to scoring high are more related to quizzing and recalling habitually, getting knowledge holes filled, writing out theorem proofs for insight into technical material, etc.

    I think keeping discipline with Facebook is great, but it’s like noise to a signal. “Noise” is getting rid of distractions like Facebook, scheduling, staying organized, deciding how you should take notes, etc. It’s good stuff, but the big wins in grades come from the “signal,” which usually have to do with Q+R and developing insight to tackle new problems unlike anything you do in homework. Signal is specific to the class and material.

  9. John Dunn says:

    I wouldn’t recommend the “Pomodoro” Method above. I just checked it out and it’s the stupidest thing ever. Keep working in focused 50 minute chunks with 10 minute breaks and follow the straight-A method.

  10. Madz says:

    I’ve definitely experienced some benefits of reducing technology in my life – for the 40 hour famine last year, I stayed away from technology (and talking) and it was amazing how much work I got done.

    On the other hand, I also received Dux of my school this year, while having a Facebook account, and one of the two runner-ups also has Facebook. (Makes me wonder though – what if I had deactivated Facebook? What could I have achieved?)
    In cases like Daniel’s it’s going to be beneficial to deactivate it – but I’d agree that as long as you can be self-disciplined, it’s not always necessary.

  11. Blue says:

    One of these days I’m going to make a t-shirt that reads I .

    That’s what it’s really about, not whether or not you use Facebook. ^__^

  12. Blue says:

    Ooh, screwed up the html tags!

    Meant the shirt to read:

    I

  13. Blue says:

    Wait, I can’t make the “heart” symbol with the “less than sign” and the 3????

    Sorry.

    “I heart singletasking,” and my apologies for the triple comment!

  14. Matt G. says:

    Great article, I don’t know If I could quit completely, but this article definitely inspired me to try and keep my addiction to one short, satisfying, look per day. It took me trying to decrease to this time to realize how similar Facebook is to crack. Thanks!

  15. I can totally see how much this would help… in fact since I stopped logging in to Facebook so often, I’ve felt a lot lighter and have been much more productive. I am honestly glad that Facebook wasn’t invented earlier during my University career, otherwise it may have had worse consequences for me. ;)

  16. Loai Najati says:

    But, shouldn’t we learn from those who control their lives while having a Facebook?. I mean to combine the benefits of killing distractions and keeping in touch with friends and knowing the new events.
    What do you think?

  17. JLD says:

    I have faith that you can make self-limiting work.

    Faith is irrelevant, yours or hers, nor is will.
    It takes a much more clever approach to defeat hyperbolic discounting.

    <3…

  18. Eric says:

    Excellent post and what a coincidence! I recently decided to limit my computer usage to two hours daily, plus a one hour reserve for “emergencies,” per week, and a maximum of one hour per session. There is no rollover from day to day nor from week to week. Although I still check Facebook occasionally, I don’t do it nearly as often because the usage limits force me to use my time on the computer far more efficiently, especially because I have online homework assignments. The first two days were extremely difficult, however, and I literally sat around doing absolutely nothing because I had no idea what to do; all I had done before was use the computer, browsing Facebook or the rest of the web aimlessly and wasting precious time that I could have used better. Since implementing this time limit, my productivity has gradually increased. I have not been doing it for long enough to see any improvements in my grades, but I’m quite sure there will be a significant positive effect on them in the long term.

  19. Daniel says:

    I’m intending on remaining on FB myself, but I run it very paired down. No FB games, no running it in the background, no email updates. I probably spend about five minutes on it a day (though I should cut that down to every other day).

    I have, however, ditched MSN Messenger. Two reasons: One, I don’t want to be instantly contactable just because I’m online. If I’m doing some work the last thing I want is to be buzzed by some person who just wants to say ‘hi’, ‘hows things’ etc. etc. Two, I’ve found its a distraction to find out whenever I get an email. It kind of feels like a demand that you read it right away. I’ve switched to Mozilla Thunderbird now and only check my email once or twice a day.

  20. Haha the monastic life after Facebook. That’s brilliant. I deleted and blocked all my friends on my facebook account and just let people add me from my blog now to get updates. It’s totally automated though. It does feel amazing not being on Facebook. You start to enjoy lifes simpler pleasures and stop wasting time too.

  21. Rob says:

    Really interesting. I’ve posted a link to this for my first year students on my “Academic Skills” course. The thing I notice in the library these days is that constant popping sound, as the facebook friends appear on screens. And these friends are probably on campus- why don’t they just go and have a coffee together?

  22. Lindsay says:

    Just the other day I decided to deactivate- after getting my boyfriend to also change my password. I usually give it up for lent anyway but I just wanted it all to stop- the messages, email alerts, etc. At least through the end of this semester if I am needed people have my phone and email.

    I barely even miss it! And the incredulous emails and texts are funny.

  23. Alex says:

    Thank you! Finally a kindred spirit. After experiencing how wasteful instant messaging was, I never joined the xanga, myspace, or facebook that followed, figuring they would only be more elaborate technologies to drain my time. One can only shudder at how much time kids waste “facebook-stalking.”

    I get the question “do you have a Facebook?” every now and then, proudly admit I do not, and instead hand the person my phone number (because if they really care or I know them well enough, they will call. Or at least e-mail.)

    Also, I second Daniel’s observation — I’m not on Facebook, but my roommate or friends generally fill me in on university events.

    Now, to only figure out a way to downsize my two e-mail accounts… (school and personal! Any suggestions?)

  24. Karl says:

    I put my computer monitor in the closet and just use my school laptop. I wan’t playing games anymore because medical school demanded it. I couldn’t survive the game addiction with the amount of work required. I’ll pull it out this summer.

  25. fool says:

    It would be nice if Facebook’s tools for managing your news feed etc. were a bit more useful, then you could customize the display to show the kinds of things that are more important that you might want to see daily, and leave the less important friends and posts for when you choose to spend more time reading FB (e.g. on a weekend or whatever). They do some behind the scenes filtering I think, but the controls that you have as a user are really crude: you can hide posts from certain friends, and you can hide posts from applications like quizes etc (thank God). They seem to be moving away from the idea of having different kinds of posts (e.g. events, links, notes, links), which I think would have been useful if they weren’t so hard to use.

  26. Study Hacks says:

    I think keeping discipline with Facebook is great, but it’s like noise to a signal. “Noise” is getting rid of distractions like Facebook, scheduling, staying organized, deciding how you should take notes, etc. It’s good stuff, but the big wins in grades come from the “signal,”

    I love that analogy. A good SNR requires both that you’re increasing the right type of work while decreasing the noise of distraction.

    I wouldn’t recommend the “Pomodoro” Method above. I just checked it out and it’s the stupidest thing ever.

    I’ve been curious about this whole Pomodoro thing. I agree that it’s a real simple idea, yet there seems to be a mini-empire based around a one sentence piece of advice. There’s probably a good story lurking behind that slick web site.

    I’ve definitely experienced some benefits of reducing technology in my life – for the 40 hour famine last year, I stayed away from technology (and talking) and it was amazing how much work I got done.

    What’s the 40 hour famine? That sounds interesting…

    Wait, I can’t make the “heart” symbol with the “less than sign” and the 3????

    WordPress things the “less than sign” is the start of some malicious html tag. But I get your point.

    The shirt I would love to see would read: “Pseudowork is for wimps.” I will send multiple signed books to anyone who sends me a photo of them wearing that shirt!

  27. Study Hacks says:

    But, shouldn’t we learn from those who control their lives while having a Facebook?. I mean to combine the benefits of killing distractions and keeping in touch with friends and knowing the new events.
    What do you think?

    True enough. I agree that’s there’s a lot to learn who have no problem separating work from distraction. One thing I’ve noticed about this group is that tend to have very specific study habits that they trust work. Also, they have a real sense of mastery about their schoolwork — not just survival. But there might be more at play.

    I have, however, ditched MSN Messenger. Two reasons: One, I don’t want to be instantly contactable just because I’m online.

    Amen. To paraphrase Merlin Mann: what does it say about your sense of self worth if you allow anyone to steal your attention anytime they want?

    I barely even miss it! And the incredulous emails and texts are funny.

    It’s weird, there’s something about facebook and e-mail that make people defensive if you don’t use them. This doesn’t hold true for other technologies. If you say, “I don’t do twitter,” someone might respond, “oh, you should, you would like it.” If you say, “I don’t do facebook,” they get upset.

    Interesting psychology at play…

    Now, to only figure out a way to downsize my two e-mail accounts… (school and personal! Any suggestions?)

    Here’s one approach:
    — start a new personal account that you only give to friends and family, etc.
    — start a sign-up account that you use for mailing lists, order confirmations, or anything else that requires an e-mail.

    You then can check your personal account often, because it’s just friends and families. Your other two accounts can languish much longer, as you don’t expect anything personal in either.

  28. Vincent says:

    I think Facebook has distractions, but it has its benefits. For example, some of my friends use it to collaborate with me on homework sets — we type out full equations and derivations online to show our train of thought. It’s just really fast. When I think of how helpful having a study group is to acing problem sets, and knowing that I don’t want to take the bus to their places (which takes more time than wasting on FB), I see a red book principle in action: collaborating with friends to tackle hard homework sets.

    On the other end, with increasing SNR, I don’t think the noise is Facebook. It is the extent to which Facebook distracts an individual. So, I recommend the following minimalist methods: take away all “information and personal info” about yourself. It wastes time and energy. Hide your photos if you already have them, or just keep them visible only to yourself. Make very few if any statuses at all, and customize your profile so that nobody can comment on anything, but be able to post. Make your profile picture unable to be clicked, and your comments on other walls invisible.

    I think this approach of mine sounds extreme to most, but the importance is convenient communication. Facebook then pretty must just feels another Email client. Then, with that noise reduced, you can go about choosing the right OP AMPs to amplify your signal (quiz and recall, tackling the blood flow instrument design problem, etc). And at the same time, friends who don’t know your Email, (of whom there are a lot) can still keep in touch.

  29. Maria Helena says:

    I didn´t quit facebook, but, when I started to write my master thesis, I bought a notebook without wi-fi. So I could use internet, download articles, etc. and put everything in my notebook at home. I spent every day in the campus library with my notebook only, reading and writing. I think that is impossible to concentrate with internet, with or without facebook, anyway. I lost a lot of parties and funny stuff, but none of my friends. It was necessary and sometimes still it is. I can spend time in internet on my vacations or weekends.

  30. Maria Helena says:

    PS: You can control your facebook by email. If somebody sends you something, you´ll know and try to answer by email or phone. If it´s silly stuff, you can leave the msg without answer until your next weekend.

  31. Danny Garant says:

    I didn’t deactivated Facebook, but I eliminated the game application on wich I could spend hours. I do business communication via Facebook, but I can change that.

  32. anon says:

    I loved facebook at first, but after 3 months I just got bored. I do occasionally use it to procrastinate but no more than any other thing. The point is more that if you are going to use facebook, be careful what you put up.

    I had over 1000 friends, mainly as a result of university. However, it became clear to me that I barely know half of these people. What I’m doing now is slowly deleting those people. When I’m done, I’ll know that if I’m messaging on fb it will be to people I care about or are important, thus the time I spend on there will more likely be productive, and hopefully guilt free.

  33. brij says:

    once my older cousin came to stay with me for couple of days. we were both medical students at the time. he was an overachiver and i did just about ok. but he knew i could do better. after observing my habits, before he left he adviced me saying “the day you will throw your laptop out the window you’ll top everything”. never did i realize that i spent so much time distracted. small step- huge difference.

  34. brij says:

    great blog cal. kudos!

  35. Kuraki says:

    If you use Firefox, you need to get this extension: Leech Block.

    What this extension does is allow you to enter sites that you want it to block for a certain amount of time. Or even set it up to block sites for that day. The way I use it, every site that I know I visit a lot when I get bored studying that I can get sidetracked for hours, I put them in the Leech Block. My list is ESPN, Facebook, some blogs I visit, news sites (I am a real political junkie, and forums I visit.

    Using the method from the Red Book, I study for a hour. Set the leech block for a hour and study. Sometimes I’ll get the urge to check Facebook… but viola! it is blocked. Then I get back to work.

  36. Naima says:

    I deleted facebook a year ago, but im still procrastinating on internet :(

  37. 4johnny says:

    Consider reducing e-mail notifications – worked wonders for my FB experience. Now I “pull” info when I want it, instead of it being “pushed” to me and causing perpetual interruption.

    Also, note that “deactivating” a FB account does not actually delete/purge it. For that, you have to make a direct request to FB support. This is good or bad depending on your perspective: good because you may be able to resurrect yourself later; bad because your info still exists on the Interwebs.

  38. A nice article. I quit facebook years ago for very similar reasons.

  39. Study Hacks says:

    On the other end, with increasing SNR, I don’t think the noise is Facebook. It is the extent to which Facebook distracts an individual. So, I recommend the following minimalist methods…

    Right. But if it’s really distracting you, why not just quit? I think there’s something telling in your motivation to find a variety of different answers that avoid quitting in the case where it’s a problem. One of the things I’m arguing for is a more draconian attitude to technolgies; us demanding that they earn their keep, not the opposite approach of us bending over backwards to keep them in our lives.

    I lost a lot of parties and funny stuff, but none of my friends.

    And I’m assuming that if you were really interested in not missing parties, you could probably just talk one of your close friends every couple days and ask if there are any parties you should know about.

    Consider reducing e-mail notifications – worked wonders for my FB experience. Now I “pull” info when I want it, instead of it being “pushed” to me and causing perpetual interruption.

    Even better: don’t have your e-mail open when you’re trying to work! :)

  40. Vanessa says:

    4.0 undergrad and current 4.09 in master’s program and I definitely have a Facebook account. It’s called time management.

  41. brij says:

    hi cal,

    i was wondering if you would be posting an article on multiple choice question study strategy in detail. some people are just well oriented to this type of tests while others are not. any advice?

    thanks.

  42. jimmy the extraordinary says:

    So now what do I do while I wait for my code to compile? =P

  43. Study Hacks says:

    i was wondering if you would be posting an article on multiple choice question study strategy in detail. some people are just well oriented to this type of tests while others are not. any advice?

    Search for my article on focused question clusters.

    So now what do I do while I wait for my code to compile? =P

    Meditate.

  44. M.O. says:

    This is such a great idea! I definitely can’t delete it all together but I did use LeechBlock on firefox to block it during class times and my usual study times! Now if I really “need” to use it I have to go through the trouble of unblocking it so I usually don’t!

  45. Johnny says:

    So do you have a facebook or MSN account? Is it adequate to have e-mail and phone only if I am a post-doc interested in my research rather than managing relationships at work?

  46. Study Hacks says:

    So do you have a facebook or MSN account? Is it adequate to have e-mail and phone only if I am a post-doc interested in my research rather than managing relationships at work?

    I have neither, and I advise the same. In addition, be slow to answer e-mail so people don’t expect quick responses. You’re being paid to focus hard on hard things — shun distractions!

  47. I’m not sure if I’m in agreement with the thesis posited herein. Technology will always be a potential source of distraction. Should I jettison my cell phone and return to a land-line only existence? Of course not. A mobile phone proves far too useful in day-to-day life and, if you can with good conscious set your phone on silent during quiet study hours, you acquire the benefits with none of the negative externalities.

    In the same way, just don’t log onto Facebook and instead use it proactively. It’s easier for me to, with a few quick clicks, send an invite to a birthday party via Facebook than it is to go through my entire address book and put together an e-mail list, let alone make individual phone calls. As an entrepreneur, ignoring Facebook would cut out a sizable market volume and reduce the efficacy of my, to reference Seth Godin here, tribe-expanding efforts.

    You have to be proactive with technology. Shutting yourself out from Facebook makes no more sense than it does to abandon a car or public transportation for the sake of avoiding stoplights.

    Moreover, we as human beings will always find a source of distraction.

  48. I didn’t finish my post :). Whether it’s toys, phones, televisions, radios, video games, it doesn’t matter. Any form of technology can be abused.

    The argument made above is a logical fallacy of hasty generalization. There is insufficient evidence for said broad conclusion – Daniel likely polled only a small group of classmates – and so his statistics fail to represent the habits of the broader population.

    I completed my M.A. program with a 3.99 all the while checking Facebook every single day.

  49. Just caught a few typos. It should read good conscience, not good conscious. And 3.99 was my final, overall GPA after completing my M.A. in international studies.

  50. Mikey says:

    Can someone quicky do the math as to how many credits he would have needed to have overloaded and gotten all As in to pull a JUMP like that? My math isn’t good, but if my estimates are right, what he did was worthy of RESPECT.

  51. Study Hacks says:

    Can someone quicky do the math as to how many credits he would have needed to have overloaded and gotten all As in to pull a JUMP like that

    The jump was in terms of his single-semester GPA, not cumulative.

  52. Study Hacks says:

    Technology will always be a potential source of distraction. Should I jettison my cell phone and return to a land-line only existence? Of course not. A mobile phone proves far too useful in day-to-day life

    It helps if you read the article before you comment. What you mention is exactly the point I make: the decision to use a piece of technology should be based on a cost to benefits analysis.

    For most people a cell phone has way more benefits than costs. For many, however, Facebook may not.

    The key is that *no* technology gets to escape this analysis.

    The notion that we should “proactively” use any technology that can provide any benefit is absurd. There’s not enough minutes in the day.

  53. Cal,

    I see your point. Still, it seems to be a problem with behavior, not a problem with technology. Technology is growing too ubiquitous and too entrenched into our day to day lives to avoid it. Facebook will soon be replaced and Daniel will need to cope all over again. I still maintain that singling out a specific technology as the causal mechanism in a behavioral problem is still a logical fallacy.

    Any technology can be “costly,” it all depends on context. And so performing a cost-benefit analysis on the technology doesn’t address the specific nature of the behavioral compulsion. As in the fundamental attribution error, is it something about the technology that proves costly, or is it something about the use of that technology that proves costly? Daniel would do well to employ your fixed-time productivity method and schedule a daily hour of Facebooking/IMing/Twittering/E-Mailing as I do.

    Regardless, I love the blog, and hope you don’t chagrin me too much for making my first post a critique. Keep up the good work!

  54. Study Hacks says:

    Regardless, I love the blog, and hope you don’t chagrin me too much for making my first post a critique. Keep up the good work!

    Sorry for the sharp response. That was about 30 minutes after a potentially crippling equipment problem popping up in a time sensitive research experiment I’m working on at MIT. Not my best of moods.

    To your point about the reasons behind a technology being costly, these can be hard to analyze and sometimes even harder to fix. In the same vein as my canonical advice to study in isolated locations, you want to set yourself up as much as possible for success. If a piece of technology is really making this hard, and there is no obvious or easy to fix that, and the benefit is small compared to the costs: deep-six it.

  55. If a piece of technology is really making this hard, and there is no obvious or easy to fix that, and the benefit is small compared to the costs: deep-six it.

    Absolutely. I’m 100% behind you with this statement. Thanks for the insightful discussion Cal.

  56. Cecelia Bustamante says:

    I agree that the web offers plenty of distractions for students when it comes to productivity and excellence in academics, but it does offer a powerful tool for many students in communication fields. As a Public Relations major, it’s such a powerful tool and has been taught in classes to use “distractions” like Twitter and Facebook to hone your social media skills. Many careers in the journalism and communications field demand skills and familiarity in social media like Facebook and Twitter. Yes, they can be a detriment to students’ productivity, but can also be helpful knowledge in the future for plenty of students as well.

  57. Robyn Carey says:

    Distractions are sometimes welcome. I don’t go on Facebook much, maybe about once every two weeks, and don’t have a Twitter account, although I do peruse LiveJournal frequently. The distraction is nice sometimes. Having a five or ten minute break to just let your brain relax is important to keeping on task. However, when that distraction becomes an addiction and is a tool for procrastination, we have a problem. More so than ever have these “distractions” become addictions. If deactivating yourself from the network is your way of ridding of an addiction, I think it’s all fine and well. You can still see your friends at school and catch up with people by phone or email, but deactivating does not have to be the end all for everyone. You may just need to readjust your priorities and instill a bit of will power (caution: this does not work for everyone).

  58. Meredith says:

    I’m so glad I read this. I’m starting college in the fall and I have been considering deleting my facebook account before then, since it’s been such a big distraction for me throughout high school. Now I know that it will be worth it.

  59. Kristen says:

    4.0 my first semester and I went on facebook. Resist the urge to do games and browse other people’s profiles and limit yourself to logging on a few times a week.

    This semester is off to a slow start and it’s because of the Xbox Live subscription that I got for Christmas… I’ve unplugged the Xbox.

  60. Raul Acevedo says:

    Just followed your advice. My first test in my first PhD course did not went well.

    I just remembered during my B.S. years I was playing Wolfenstein 3d and by the end of a level I accumulated 50 hours of play (as per the game counter), I proceeded immediately to uninstall the game. Case in point.

    Thanks for the advice!

  61. Andrew says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to delete your Facebook account instead of merely deactivating it? Even after deactivating my Facebook, I would find myself activating it again and again (therefore defeating the purpose of deactiving my Facebook in the first place).

  62. Study Hacks says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to delete your Facebook account instead of merely deactivating it?

    Believe it or not, you can’t delete your Facebook account! The most you can do is deactivate it, and the information remains in their database. Sort of spooky…

  63. Andrew says:

    Oh, that’s what I thought, too, but you actually can delete it. You have to go down to “Help” and fill out a form that you send to Facebook staff. They then will delete your account apparently. :/

  64. Andrew says:

    A better explanation on how to delete your account: Go down to Help –> Click on “Profile” –> Click on “Account Settings and Deletion” –> Click on “How do I permanently delete my Facebook account?” –> Click on “here” –> Click on “submit” –> Fill out info. and click okay

    Even after this, they say that they’ll give you 14 days just in case you change your mind. If you log in within these 14 days, you have the option to cancel your request to delete your Facebook account.

  65. R Varma says:

    Great article, however the best way, i think, to overcome just about every obstacle is to mentally stabilize and prioritize yourself – have control over your mind. I can facebook, twitter, among other things and still maintain great grades. I’m not saying everyone can do this; but blocking facebook is not necessarily the answer. We have more resources than we utilize, the distraction occurs because people use new technology as a means to get away from studying than to adopt better study habits. Facebook is a social platform among other things, but if people talked about classwork or reviewed online [sometimes] and talked less about their fav. tv show or current song, having grades dropped wouldn’t be an issue.

  66. Sona.B says:

    Nice article.I’d suffered heavy loss in academics because of facebook too so here’s what I did.I asked my friend to change my login password and told her to reveal it to me only when I’d completed studying a particular portion.So I’d spend days without using facebook and I think I managed pretty well.Once I’d completed my task I could rightfully use fb and then ask my friend to change the password again for next time.This way I stopped using facebook unnecessarily,got time for studies, and I didn’t have to delete my account too. :D

  67. Ajaxiom says:

    Hi,
    would you say the same thing for other social services as Twitter for instance.
    I’m new on Twitter, I follow just 15 people, chosen with care, and I receive approximatively 100 twits per day. It’s very timeconsuming to read all of those twits. Moreover, 80% of them are out of the theme I really need.
    (sorry for my English, I’m french but I definitively want to improve it)

  68. jess says:

    Exact thing happened for me- my grade average rose from 3.5 to 5.5 out of 9 (in Canada). I’m a female in geophysics. Quitting facebook saved my life- the hardcore facebook and laptop/texting addicts my program are on probation.

  69. Laura says:

    With all the controversy about Facebook in the news now…

    This is just … FUN!

    Check out my friend David Ippolito’s hilarious new Facebook Song on YouTube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDHb4wewAIQ

    Spread SMILES…

  70. Rebekah says:

    Excellent ideas Cal. I’ve been reading your blog for ages without commenting but this one is just too relevant.

    I made the ‘monumental’ decision to deactivate Facebook less than two weeks ago. This felt particularly difficult not because my social life revolves around fb, but because I live and study in the UK, and I use it to keep up on the lives of friends and family back home.

    I finally realised, however, that I was spending more time looking at photos etc from people I didn’t really care about than I was benefiting from home updates. Moreover, I was irked by the utter devaluation of communication fb facilitates, the over-familiarity it engenders from people I hardly know, and of course the sense that I would do much more interesting things with my time without the default browsing session.

    Since then, I’ve sat down to write with genuine concentration and knocked out 3,500 words on a publication I’m co-authoring, finished a Joyce book and moved on to a Sartre, and delivered half my wardrobe to charity. Yes, weird, but linked nonetheless: clearing out the shit you don’t need to focus on what actually satisfies.

  71. Hubbert says:

    Here’s a vintage ad from Motorola: “How Television Benefits your Children.”
    “Motorola, leader in television, shows how TV can mean better behavior at home and better marks in school!”

    http://www.itworld.com/offbeat/83351/priceless-the-25-funniest-vintage-tech-ads?page=0%2C25

  72. yosra says:

    i really wanna do that but it’s so difficult and there are some people who i care about seeing them quitting my account means not to see them do you think that i should forget about that and go forward….????????????

  73. mathiedave says:

    I quit facebook recently. It started to get creepy and I don’t want to get addicted to it like I did with video games. Hopefully, my gpa will increase when I return to school in the fall!!

  74. Suika says:

    I was using Facebook for about two months. I was excited when I got it, because I could talk to my friends on my new iPod touch.

    Bad idea.

    My iPod became attached to me, following me around. And I was always checking for updates in peoples’ lives so close that instead of checking Facebook I could have gone into the next room.

    Thankfully, I realized this soon and began limiting myself, feeling guilty whenever I checked my Facebook.

    I quit, and have lost no friends. I contact people via email and telephone. I don’t need to spend even more of my life on the Net.

    Thanks for the article, it justified my actions. Now I just need to send a link to my FB-obsessed friend…

  75. Mariya says:

    For those unsatisfied with deactivation, Facebook has a ‘permanent’ option:

    https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account

    This will probably gain more momentum once google+ kicks off…

  76. Iza says:

    Beautiful article. I deleted fb 3 yrs ago and havent missed it at all.

  77. Newman Hu says:

    Hey, Cal

    I recently found your blog and I find it extremely interesting. I personally think that Facebook is boring. Whether it is because I have not enough friends or becuase there is no activity, I found it extremely boring.

    Another thing, as you pointed out, I knew that people got addicted to Facebook, so I decided to pull the plug before that happened. I only recreated my Facebook for some social marketing. :D

    Other then that I normally study, work on my blog, or watch TV.

    Thanks for the fantastic post!

  78. Ginny says:

    Wow. I’m definitely going to run to your blog for study hacks. Anyway, I read about quitting Facebook and I must say I completely agree. I actually already deactivated my account once but one of my professors–and it was of PE class, of all classes–required us to be join our PE Facebook group. I was whining because it took me a lot of wars with myself before actually hitting the buttons and say goodbye to Facebook, then here comes a sudden wreck. So now, I’m on Facebook again and I am on it the minutes before my exams. It all sucks, actually. My academic performance is clearly sinking (well not just because of Facebook but because of most other student issues you surely are aware off). What I seriously want to do though is to bounce back and get on top of my classes. I’ve always dreamed about it anyway. The thing is, I don’t know how to do things excellently anymore. I’ve been way too overwhelmed and bombardment by failures. And yeah, I’m a freshman. So I just hope you could do some help and let me know how to be a successful student (Facebook-less or not). Without becoming too anti-social and miss out on a life of fun, that is. Thanks!

  79. Ellie says:

    Hmm, facebook hasn’t been much of an issue in my life so far but I might want to consider quitting some other websites…. thanks for the insight!

  80. Elissa says:

    About three weeks ago I completed a full time internship and knew I had to start studying for my august/september finals right then and there. So I made the decision to deactivate (not delete, what you can do very easily now) my Facebook account in order to fully commit to the finals. After all, those are the only thing standing between me and my college degree!

    Interestingly, I noticed that my Facebook activity went WAY down while I was doing the internship. Logging in a few times a week, instead of several times a day during class weeks, proved sufficient to maintain my social network. But somehow I also felt better. The urge to come home and immediately check my facebook just wasn’t there anymore.

    While my productivity definitely has gone up the past weeks, I have to admit I felt somewhat lonely at times, especially in the second week. Facebook was my medium to stay in contact with a whole bunch of people that I like to hang out with but who don’t have my cell number (yes I could just give it, but there are a LOT) nor the other way around. Since I haven’t been able to go out as much as usual the past weeks I don’t just run in to them either.

    So my experiences lead me to the following conclusion: for peoply like me, whose social network largely depends on Facebook, it’s better to restrict than to delete alltogether. Luckily, there are resources for people like me :).

    FACEBOOK LIMITER: a simple program that you can download for free after a quick Google search. There’s an easy to use interface that allows you to restrict Facebook and/or Youtube in any way you like. For example, you can allow these sites only at specific times such as late evenings or only in weekends. You can also just set a blocking time when you start studying: a good way of easing into a restricted Facebook activity. Important detail: you can’t turn the blocking off once you’ve started it, at that time the program doesn’t even let you uninstall it.

    The latter method I used before, but still found deactivating my account to be much more effective since the decision of how long you have to wait to get on Facebook is one that you don’t have to make anymore. I find this energy consuming. Also, with simple time block restricting you don’t break the habit of hitting “F” as soon as your browser opens( I didn’t even realize I was doing this untill I suddenly found myself on Facebook). Habits are strong… but with my deactivated period I managed to break it. So I’m thinking about using the set times application now, based on my experiences during the internship.

    Long story short: using technology to decrease the influence of other technology… I just find it effective!

  81. Lisa says:

    Very interesting. I never understood the interest in FB (one of my college age kids rarely uses it and the other one not at all) but I recently joined Pinterest. I’m finding it to be a similar waste of time to what you described FB as and I’m trying to limit my exposure. Thanks for the info.

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