• A break from social media can be good for connecting with people.

Social media has been and continues to be a powerful tool for real estate agents and other professionals. We can meet people, build relationships and keep our names out there so that people will connect with us when they need help buying or selling real estate.

Platforms come and go, but Facebook sticks around and has become a central hub for our electronic lives. This social media giant seems like an electronic octopus that has its tentacles in everything; it grows and consumes more and more of our time, data and battery life every single day.

The breaking point

Last winter I decided enough was enough. I was spending too much time looking at screens and, while it may have been helping my business, I felt it was causing physical and mental damage.

The physical damage was from looking at the screen. The mental — or psychological — damage was from what I was seeing and reading, and the fact that my short attention span was getting even shorter was another red flag.

I opened Facebook one day and read about a mother who was asking for advice because her three-year-old child did something horrible.

It bothered me for a couple reasons: A mother leaving a small child alone long enough for that child to do serious harm is troublesome, and a parent dealing with a problem by asking total strangers for advice rather than getting professional help has me concerned about the child’s future and safety.

That incident and several others caused me to rethink my use of social media and, as a result, I deleted Facebook from my phone.

Facebook was no longer a positive experience for me, and I wanted less of it.

Is Facebook monopolizing social media?

I did not realize the Facebook app could not be completely deleted from my phone — it could only be disabled. Once I disabled it, I changed the settings to remove all permissions so the app would have no access to any content on my phone.

Just a few phones ago, Facebook was optional — and it had to be manually added. Today, it seems as though Facebook has a monopoly over social media.

My phone seems to run better, but that might be my imagination. I know removing the app has improved my phone’s battery life, freed up space and somehow made it feel lighter.

Lifestyle impact of dropping Facebook

At first, I could not resist launching the browser on my phone and logging into Facebook for a peek, but wasn’t the same experience; the app was much easier to use, so I stopped checking Facebook altogether after about a week.

Today, I feel like a rebel walking down the street without Facebook. I have entered a new world where I am free to exist in the moment. I can be with clients all day and only look at my phone to open lockboxes, get directions or pay for coffee.

Facebook doesn’t need to know where I am, and I don’t need to share.

I check Facebook from my computer at some point each day to connect with friends and family, but I no longer give it the attention I used to. I update my business page a few times a week without logging into my personal account.

Ubiquity can be harmful

The way Facebook keeps adding features and services to keep people interested almost feels like what the tobacco industry did to keep people addicted to their products even after they were proven cancerous.

Facebook is hard to escape. It continues to grow and insert itself into every part of our lives, but I don’t want my news filtered by young men in California, and I don’t want an algorithm to decide who my true friends are or what I should see.

Making a permanent change

My next step is to limiting my Facebook visits to odd number days, and then I’ll see if I can handle every other odd number day as I scale back to once a week. Ideally, once or twice month should be often enough to check the various groups I belong to.

I still feel like I am going through withdrawal most days, but I am sure it will pass as I focus directly on the world without filtering it through a screen.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

Email Teresa Boardman

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