A Simple, Honest Life · Simple Life

Deleting Facebook & Messenger

As part of this ‘Simple, Honest Life’ kick I’ve been on for the last few months, I finally took a leap to remove something from my life that I’ve been wanting to get rid of for a long time: Facebook.

Image result for no facebook

There were a few reasons for wanting to do this.

First, I just don’t use it that much anymore. I’m mostly on Instagram for my digital social life. I’ve been trying to free up more of my time to live in the real world and Facebook was a platform I wasn’t using that much, but one that felt easy to get sucked into mindlessly using. It just started to make sense for me that the next step would be to remove the account all together.

Facebook wasn’t doing anything good for my mental health either. In fact, it doesn’t do a lot for most people’s mental health. Here is a great bit from the opening of the research article I just linked: “Facebook, which remains by far the largest social media company, has 2.3 billion monthly active users worldwide. As of 2016, the average user was spending 50 minutes per day on Facebook and its sister platforms Instagram and Messenger. There may be no technology since television that has so dramatically reshaped the way people get information and spend their time.” That’s not to say it’s BAD time spent. I’m sure that varies by individual. But I think it’s a good idea to evaluate if the time you spend on Facebook is valuable to you and if it puts you in a good state of mind.

For me, it was adding up precious time in my day by checking and responding to it. A good 20 minutes total. On top of all this I didn’t like the way I was watching people use it. Facebook is full of ads, scams and false information via news and sharing. It felt like an easy way to disengage from all the noise and dare I say it: Fake news. I also didn’t like the way it forced surface level friendships on me and what always felt like false connections with my extended family and internet friends.

The Mental Process of Removing Facebook Forever

The first thing I did to make sure I really wanted to do this was to delete the app from my phone. I did this for three months and only used Facebook on my desktop computer. When I did log in, I found I did not miss it. So the answer to if I’d miss Facebook was a simple no, and the next step was to just delete it.

Well, I soon realized it wasn’t going to be that simple. I had 13 years of crap on this thing and a lot that crap was actually important to me and didn’t live anywhere else but on Facebook.

This important info was mostly photos upon photos that I had uploaded that existed on Facebook and no where else. Some of these were dumb photos, but I wanted them anyway. This used to be an ordeal to obtain. I was thinking of deleting Facebook about five years ago and there was no way at the time to obtain all your photos at once. You had to automatically go in and save them one at a time. This was a problem for someone like me that had over 3,000 + photos.

But all that has changed. Facebook BY LAW has to give you access to all your data now, which includes being able to download all your photos at once into a nifty zip folder. Facebook has messed up so many times in their history with people’s data, there is now a great feature that allows you to download all your data at one go. Directions below:

All my information from 13 years of Facebook in one zip drive

This entire process took about 15 minutes. They emailed me when my data was ready to be downloaded and two minutes later I had a zip drive of what I thought would just be my photos.

Hello 1984

But there was SO MUCH MORE. So much more. Facebook gave me EVERYTHING. Everything I didn’t even know they had. You don’t just get photos. You get every post you’ve ever made, everything you’ve liked, all of the ad interests Facebook has tracked on you and all the ads you’ve clicked on. You even get a list of every friend you’ve ever had on Facebook along with their phone number and email if they provided one at sign up. Even if you aren’t friends anymore. Creepy.

The next thing I had to do was remove myself from my groups and my messenger. This was more difficult. I have a good group of friends from all over the world that uses groups as a way to keep connected. I had to reach out to them to see if there was a way we could communicate differently.

Then I had to see what chats I had in messenger. Which ones were just passing chats and which ones were long threads. For our podcast for Cinemabysmal we use a Facebook messenger chat. I just had to convince the guys to switch to a group chat. Which worked out great because it actually convinced one of them that Facebook was a heap of garbage and they’re now deleting theirs at the beginning of the year. As a side note: you can keep messenger without having Facebook. But for me it was about getting rid of all the extra noise and methods of communication. Just having one message app really appealed to me so I wanted to keep that goal in mind.

Finally I had to go through my friends list and delete the people I didn’t want to keep in touch with through social media anymore. This part was harder. I have a lot of acquaintances on there , but I really took the time and went through and thought about which relationships I valued the most. I went from 475 friends down to 116 friends. That visual alone told me how little Facebook was doing for me and my relationships with the people I cared about.

Then about a week ago I made a post letting the people left on there know I was going to delete my Facebook in a week and if they wanted to keep in touch I gave my phone number, email, website and Instagram. I wouldn’t have given out my phone number before to all 475 people but everyone that was left I found I didn’t mind if they had it. I knew them, they knew me. The great feeling came when I realized that most of them already had my phone number. All that was left was people that I cared for, knew and loved.

And then I deleted it. And I have zero regrets. And I’ll leave you with the instructions on how to deleted your own Facebook because it’s kind of hard and they make it a little tricky.

For those of you that aren’t sure about deleting Facebook, at least get a copy of your data so you can start to remove some of things Facebook has that you aren’t happy about them having. Also, if you keep a copy of your data after you delete Facebook you can restore your profile by signing up again and re uploading the data pack Facebook gives you. So even if you just want to get away for a year and see how you feel, this is a great option.

Step by Step (oh baby)

Another strange find: In settings if you go to ‘Manage Account’, you can request to have your Facebook page deleted when you die. This can avoid having your page become a strange memorial after you pass full of people from high school you haven’t talked to in years claiming they were your best friend:

Now that my Facebook is deleted I have a 30 day grace period to log back in and restore my page. It is slightly annoying to me that this is an option, but I don’t plan on using it and now the deed is done and I can enjoy my official Facebook free life in 2020.

A Simple, Honest Life · Honest Life

If You Don’t Prioritize Your Life, Someone Else Will

Oh Hey, It’s Me
Northern California Coast Line

I remember May. I remember Memorial Day Weekend. I remember the redwoods and the northern California coastal air, how it smells like it’s always going to rain and how the fog blankets the coast every morning. I remember camping early in June and hiking up the butte that tried to kill me, but instead gave me an epiphany about turning this site into a reflection of honesty and simplicity. I remember feeling like summer was just about to start.

And now it’s September.

I had a really great summer planned with restful self care weekends in between some of the bigger ticket items such as visiting my parents, going to Spokane, three camping trips, a walking relay event and one of my best friend’s wedding. But even the best laid plans…

Slowly dying inside at our LA office

Work got in the way if I’m being honest. Not just some hard weeks at work, but work travel on top of that, which is never as fun as it sounds. I was down in LA seven times this summer for work and even pulled a 15 hour turn around trip followed by three more days in a row. One good thing is I got really good at packing a suitcase and bringing only what I knew I’d need and wear. But putting in all that work travel against my carefully laid out summer plans meant I was busy. So busy I have barely had time for myself.

That’s not to say I didn’t have a good time this summer, but since my May revelation I’ve been wanting to focus more on my needs and my time. When I can manage those things first, I become a better person at home and with my friends and family. I can allow myself to be in the moment when I’m with other people and give them my full attention and focus because I’ve taken care of myself first. Which leads to the fact that I have not taken care of myself this summer.

I have felt completely out of control. Like things were happening TO me, and I was just a bystander going through the motions because I felt like I had to. I felt had no control to stop these things from happening and I just had to follow through and do them. I’d like to preach about how we all have control in our lives and I could have canceled things or told my work no, but that is always so much harder than it sounds. I think most people don’t feel in control of their lives. We have bills to pay and people to please and plans to show up for.

The best plan I showed up for: Claire’s wedding with my BFFs

So I’ve been having these thoughts in the background about putting myself first and being in my control of my time and my life and meanwhile I’ve just been going, going, going. And when I’m finally able to stop, I end up sleeping because I’m so exhausted. Going to bed at 7 or 8 and when I can sleep in I’m sleeping until my alarm goes off at 9 am. I have to set an alarm because I will sleep even longer than that if I can. So what is that telling me when I’m so tired my body wants to sleep more than 12 hours? It tells me I’m doing too much.

Luckily work is slowing down a bit. There shouldn’t be any more crazy travel for awhile. That helps. And I’ve tried to be more honest with my personal plans. I’ve been trying to say no more. And instead of saying ‘I can’t’ I’ve been trying to say ‘I don’t want to’. Not to hurt people’s feelings, but to put my time in more perspective with myself. It’s not that I don’t want to hang out this week, it’s that I don’t want to make that a priority this week. I know that I won’t be my best if I schedule something this week, I need more time to put myself first and then when I do make plans with someone – when I am truly up for it – I will be more present than I would have been if I had forced it into my schedule. Into my time. Remember, time is our most precious resource. It is literally all we have.

It is okay to say no. I know that it doesn’t always feel that way and there are truly things that we can’t say no to. Work being the most obvious one. If we want to keep our jobs, keep the people in charge happy enough to keep us around, we more often than not feel forced to say yes. I think a lot of people feel this way and I want to share some pieces of a great book I finally got around to reading this summer called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. There are some great tid bits in there about saying no in a work environment and how nos can sometimes be really well received.

Here’s one of my favorite tips:

For example, if your manager comes to you and asks you to do X, you can respond with “Yes, I’m happy to make this the priority. Which of these other projects should I deprioritize to pay attention to this new project?” Or simply say, “I would want to do a great job, and given my other commitments I wouldn’t be able to do a job I was proud of if I took this on.”

Excerpt from Essentialism by Greg Mckeown

Saying no isn’t easy for fun, but you can definitely take a moment to feel awkward about saying no and live with that moment of awkwardness for a short time or you can say yes and live with a day, a week or even a month of regret for saying yes.

“Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

Honey Badger Champs

What do I feel deeply inspired by?” and “What am I particularly talented at?” and “What can I do that meets a significant need in the world? I don’t know yet.

I have to keep working because I have bills to pay and honestly I like the people I work with. We are dodge ball champs after all – another thing I signed up for this summer thinking I’d have more time in my life. Is my work my passion though? No. I’m not there yet. And in the meantime I don’t need to be killing myself and sleeping in 15 hours increments when I can to make up for working so hard. Now that things are a bit calmer at work I’m hoping I can re-prioritize my time and my hobbies and really start to think about what I want to do with my life and how I want to make a difference in the world with the time that I have.

Mary Oliver wrote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” I’m still figuring it out, but while I’m working through it I’m trying to make sure I’m giving myself the time and space to do so.

A Simple Life · A Simple, Honest Life

Email Subscriptions

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. Mostly about ways in which I can take back my time from other things and people and make it my own again. Sometimes I come up with really big ideas for this and other times I just think small.

Here’s a small idea that took up more time while I was doing it, but has really shown to have a great payoff.

I was trying to track my phone usage last month and have really clear ‘No Phone Time’ sessions blocked out. Like most people, I start checking my phone within a half hour of waking up. I like to keep my mail app clear of those little red notifications that tell me I have email. That means every time I pick up my phone and see a mail notification I feel compelled to check the email, sort it and in turn remove the notification.

The problem with this is that I was getting a lot of junk mail. Subscriptions I didn’t remember signing up for, discounts for stores I shopped at one time, reminders about sales or points expiring, etc. So when I’d get a text on my phone or even use it to check the time I would end up spending 5-10 minutes more than I wanted to on it going through all the new email subscription junk I would get. Over the course of the day this could end up sucking up an average 30 minutes of my time. Our most precious resource.

So I started unsubscribing. Which at first took up even more time. Some places make it so easy to unsubscribe and others make it a bit of a puzzle. My favorite ones are the ones the iPhone flags and they have just a simple unsubscribe button at the top.

Then there’s the unsubscribe links you have to click, usually found hidden away at the bottom of the email.

That will take you to a website where sometimes you just have to click a button saying ‘opt out of emails’ or you have to reenter your email, or (the worst) individually select which emails you’d like to opt out of.

These are the worst and most time consuming.

Here is the good news. I did this for a solid two weeks and it took up more time than I wanted, but now I’ve started to notice a huge decrease in my emails (and the time I spend checking them. Instead of 25 notifications in the morning and five more every half hour I’m getting three in the morning and about 10 total throughout the day. A major improvement in my time, wallet and well being.

A great way to practice digital minimalism as well. Less distractions on our phones means less phone time over all. I’ve still got a few more companies emailing, but I’ve been practicing the unsubscribe method and I wanted to encourage you all to do the same if you’re feeling like too much of your time is spent on email.

A Simple, Honest Life · Simple Life

Phone Apps

Image result for amazon ruining workers
South Park did a great bit on Amazon’s vicious cycle of consumers and workers.

It was AMAZON PRIME DAY this week! Which extended into not one day, but two days (they should probably rename it), and a CONCERT (which I watched, because Taylor Swift). All aimed at getting you to CONSUME, CONSUME, CONSUME. They even have PRE-SALE events! Come on! Buy something you didn’t even think about as something you WANTED (never mind NEED) until you saw it on your super convenient app that you open several times a day. As if Black Friday wasn’t bad enough.

Well, I deleted my Amazon Prime app for prime day and haven’t downloaded it again since. I’m a big Amazon shopper for household items. Toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent. The stuff I don’t want to get at the store a haul up three slights of stairs. I figure I can get on a desktop compute from now on to buy those things though. I buy too much stuff on Amazon as it is just for the convenience of having the app at my fingertips and all my payment information saved on there.

When I talk about a simple life in regards to a minimalist mindset I think people tend to think about their physical space. Cleaning closets, downsizing kitchen utensils, donating items etc. I want to share about the last eight months or so where I started minimizing my phone apps and let me tell you – it feels great! I think digital minimalism is super underrated and not talked about as much as our physical spaces.

How many shopping apps do you have on your phone? If you had asked me a year ago I would have had over five, at least. Amazon, Target, Modcloth, Vinted, you name it! And how many apps do you have in general? Don’t count the ones you can’t delete. Go ahead, count. I have 43.

Social and entertainment apps take up the most of my space and those include Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Goodreads, Twitter, Unfold, Podcast Preview and Messenger. Then I’ve got an entertainment section and a music section.

And that’s kind of it. The second page over has some financial apps – my bank, credit card and venmo – but I look at those more as necessities than wants.

Cutting down apps isn’t just about the look and feel of your phone though. Yes, it’s true that my phone is now simpler and easier to navigate, but overall it does one really important thing for me that I hope can give you an alternative to your current situation. Not only does having an excess of shopping and game apps on your phone make you waste more money, but it also wastes our most valuable resource: time. At the end of the day time is our ONLY commodity. Can’t shop, play games, or browse cat pics if you’re dead. And (morbid moment) that could happen at any moment. Do we want to spend hours of our day scrolling our feeds, or engaging in conversation with friends? Do we want to half watch a movie while online shopping at our fingertips, or do we want to be fully engaged?

I used to wake up in the mornings and just sit on my phone for two hours before work. Now that my apps are hidden away I tend to just spend about 15-20 minutes looking at my social and entertainment apps when I get home. There’s a glorious time when I get home from work where I’m alone for about 30 minutes. I take that time to do my phone thing. I’ll do a bit of Duolingo, check my Insta, say hi to the family on Facebook and look up recipes on Pintrest. It’s my phone time. That’s not to say I’m not looking at my phone a few times a day at work, in the morning or after dinner. I’m just being more conscious about phone time. I’m not perfect and I’m still learning. But I think the first step of that is to be CONCISION of our phone time.

I even deleted *deep breath* Wizards Unite this week. I was so looking forward to this game. I wanted it to be good. I wanted it to have the same connotations that Pokemon Go had a first. Kids and adults in the parks, running after a freshly spawned Snorlax. The truth is it’s kind of boring, doesn’t make much sense and has started to feel like a chore rather than something I wanted to spend my time on. I deleted it and I have zero regrets about it. In fact it feels like a huge weight off my shoulders.

This is just a small post about the benefits I’ve seen from minimizing my phone apps. I would like to go more in depth into this in the future, but for now here is just a few ideas for your own mental health. I’ve got a whole post in mind for no phone zones: bedroom, bathroom, dinners out, etc. I think I just want to put the idea in your brain for now about considering the minimization of phone apps. Really analyzing what the apps are doing for you and if they’re bringing value to your life or if you just find yourself opening them at random and hoping for some distraction.

Something to considering going into the weekend.