The Social Networking/Surfing Dilemma by Deb J

The Social Networking/Surfing Dilemma

A Guest Post by Deb J

Even though I only check my email and Facebook 3 times a day, I am finding I spend more time than I would like on both.  I don’t spend much time “surfing the net.”  Texting is not a problem because I only use my cell phone for emergencies.  The emails are few and mostly have to do with business type things.  I have been able to get my name off most email lists other than for those like my doctors, Mom’s doctors, our bank, and my credit card.

I really do not have a huge number of people I keep up with on Facebook, yet I find it takes too much time to skim through it all.  The majority of people are from church as we have a group on FB we use it as a way to keep up with what is going on.  Unfortunately, anyone who is in that group has to be friended and means getting all of their posts not just the ones to our group.  That is where one of my issues is.  Some of them put too many posts on there.  Even though I have tightened things down as tight as I can get them, I still receive all of their shares, comments, etc. because many of them have not tightened things the way I have.  I want to get their group posts but would like to not get all the others. 

It is nice to be able to send a text to fill someone in on something they need to know yet will not interrupt them while at work or in a meeting.  It sure can save making an extra trip if someone can pick up an item at the store on the way home.  It helps to keep track of where your teen is.  Facebook or places like it are a good way to keep everyone up-to-date on your life without sending multiple emails or making multiple phone calls.  It’s a great way to share pictures or invite people to an event.  I find myself sending fewer and fewer emails because I am able to use other ways of “talking” to people.  Email has become a method I use when I have much more to say and only to one person. 

I know that face to face or a phone call is nicer but if the person lives far away you can’t always talk to them face to face and the differences in time may make it hard to connect.   That makes me very glad to have these other methods.  So this brings us to the subject for today.  How much time do we spend on social networking and other online activities?  Is it too much?  Do we really need these things?  There are some really good reasons for having them.  Some of them come in pretty handy.  I know we did without them years ago but does that mean we have to today?  If we are going to use them, how do we become better at decluttering the area of the time we spend on them? 

One thing I am going to do is cut back to checking all of them twice a day.  I am also going to create a couple of personal groups on Facebook so that I will only see what I want from certain people.  I am also going to work on educating people on how to tighten up their accounts.  I think some of these will be a big help.  What are some ways you are decluttering your online life?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter CDs that you no longer listen to and perhaps are even embarrassed you ever owned.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

Investigate product reviews before making purchases in an attempt to get it right the first time and not find yourself back at the store buying a similar but hopefully better alternative soon after. This isn’t foolproof of course but the more armed with information you are the better choice you are likely to make.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Hi Deb! You don’t have to be friends with people on Facebook ot see their comments in a group, so that should help to ease some of your online clutter. Also, you can choose to ‘unfollow’ people on Facebook, which means that you are still ‘friends’ with them, but you don’t get all of their posts. I hope that helps 🙂

    • Thanks for the info Tamsyn. I’m wondering why I don’t receive the posts to the group unless I do have the people as friends? I will have to try this out again.

      • Deb J – if it makes you feel any better I had to have one of my daughters explain this to me too.

        • Moni, when I first staerted on FB you could disable shares and likes. After some “improvements” you can no longer do that but must do this “unfollow” thing. I hate that. I liked it the old way. I think they did not improve things.

  2. Hi Deb!
    I know millions of people love FB but I just find it way too divisive. Meanwhile, I still have a FB page. Like Tamsyn suggested, you can “unfollow” friends so you don’t get their every post or “like” in your news feed. I “unfollowed” several of my friends that are prolific posters because their posts would fill up my whole news feed every day. Every few days I go to their FB pages just to check and make sure I haven’t missed anything big. To unfollow a friend, go to their FB page and look on their cover photo for the box that says “Following”. Just click on it and you are now “unfollowing” that friend. None of their likes or posts will appear in your newsfeed but you are still friends with them. You can go back to following them any time. Hope that is useful to you.

    • thanks Claire! I am new to FB and find it overwhelming, and underwhelming at the same time. LOL But the worst part is that I am lost in there, no clue how to use it efficiently, but I am learning thanks to helpful people like you!

    • Thanks for your input Claire. I will have to try the “unfollow” idea as well as the one Tamsyn suggested for the group. Actually, the ones who are the most prolific are the ones that are in the group. I am wondering why not friending the ones in the group ended up with me not receiving the posts to the group from those people. I will have to see if the lady who set up the group did domething to make that not work.

  3. Oh yes! I am SO thankful work restricts Facebook, otherwise, I know I’d be worse! I got Facebook when I lived overseas and was studying with Americans who used it. However, it’s turned into a place for everyone, not just ‘faraway’ friends.

    Somewhere on my decluttering journey, I closed my myspace and beebo – things I never used, but nonetheless, cleaned house of having an account. There still seems a neverending collection of logins and passwords to remember though!

    • You’ve done good Snosie. I’d love to not have to use Facebook at all but that is how our church chose to keep updated on things and share prayer requests.

  4. Deb, you can also block certain things that people share on their Facebook pages. For example, you might have a friend who often shares stuff about a certain subject you aren’t interested in. People often are getting this stuff from a limited number of sources. So each time such a status appears on your page just hit the drop down menu (top left corner) on that status and hit “Hide all from…” (Stop seeing posts from this person (person being the other person they are linking to)). I do this all the time. That way you still get to see their posts that you are interested in but not the stuff you don’t care about.

    Like the other readers suggested, you can remain “friends” by hiding status updates from people you don’t wish see post from without offending them by “unfriending” them. I have done that to many people too.

    Also I only scroll down through a half a dozen or so status updates in my page before moving on to do other things. I don’t need to see everything that comes through my feed. If people need me to know stuff or specifically want me to see something they are posting then they can either tag me in the post or message me through the plethora of messaging options or phone me.

    Although I have to say that the picture of some cute miniature black face sheep that my friend Carole posted this morning did bring a smile to my face even though I hadn’t had a particularly good night’s sleep.

    • Colleen, yes, I do the “hide” thing but for some reason I have people who really, really must spend time on there. They will have 20-30 shares or likes that show up. I hope to spend some time on Thursday unfollowing a lot of people. I just never thought of that. Duh!

    • Hi Colleen, I just did that hiding thing so I don’t see stuff from a few sites… Thanks for that suggestion!!!

  5. Deb J.,
    When only the internet and e-mail were available, many moons before twitter, my space, facebook, instagram, pinterest, texting etc. my Aunt told me at one get together that she voluntarily was putting herself on “computer restriction” as she found that she was spending way to much time on it. I told her she was wise as not everything that is offered is meant for us.
    The wisdom is knowing the difference.

    I limit my personal computer activities to no more than one hour per day, once a day. I don’t participate in most of the time grabbers such as facebook etc. I found that too many people share too much very personal and un-necessary information. They are like the dreaded mass Christmas letter on steroids. Just my opinion.

    You may enjoy going from 3 times to 2 times per day so much, that you will eventually end up at 1 time per day.

    • Kimberley, restriction of personal computer time is good. I am trying to cut back more and more. The issue in our house is that with so many medical insurance issues for my mother and things like that I have to spend more time on the computer than I like. I’m trying to work on cutting back on that too. This from a person who for the last 10 years of her working life made her income from working in IT.

  6. Does the church have its own page ie something like ‘Friends Of XYZ Church’ or does everybody just friend everyone else’s pages?

    If it has its own page you could message the organiser to suggest that members are asked not to share non-church related posts so that important church posts aren’t lost in the traffic.

    If it doesn’t have its own page, maybe you could suggest establishing such a page.

    • Hi Moni, yes, I am interested in Debs response to this question too. I have a Facebook Page for 365 Less Things, attached to my personal Facebook page. I am the only editor in it so only I can post there. If anyone else wants to post on the timeline it goes through me first and I can either approve or not. Anyone can, however, comment on the statuses that I post there. But I could deleter them too if they were ever inappropriate.

      • Colleen, this is the thing that I think can be changed on our to a point. Anyone in the group can post to the group page. It would take too much time from the 2 people who are the administrators of the page to do it otherwise. I”m wondering if that is why you have to friend everyone.

      • Well, I finally realized that what we are using for the church is a group not a page. We do have a page but it really doesn’t have much on it. It is more for the public. I need to talk to the powers that be about this and see what can be done to make it less of an issue.

    • Moni, the church does have it’s own page but for some reason in order to see what is posted there (only church related things) you have to friend people. I’m wondering if there is a way to change that so will be investigating. It just seems like you should not have to do that.

  7. I deactivated my Facebook account about two months ago. I had been contemplating it since Christmas. Do I miss it ? No. As people who constantly de clutter, we face this dilemma of getting rid of something that is really useless . It’s not an outdated piece of clothing or an ugly wedding gift, it’s Facebook. The objections I hear about getting rid of it can be overcome. A quick email to the organiser of meetings or reunions will keep you in the loop. A phone call or chat over a cup of coffee is more rewarding than reading every status update of some former school mate. If you are on Facebook , you aren’t living in the physical world.
    When you start needing to block, unfollow, restrict, untag, unfriend and customise your Facebook page , what use is it??
    Is the relationship with Facebook enjoyable? Is it obligational ? Does it scare you? Do you understand it? Are you known as a Facebook freak ? Do you really enjoy reading the same old comments every day by the same people. Does your ego need the ‘likes’? Does it bring joy and happiness into your life?
    Keep Facebook if you enjoy it.
    I have a few names on my email list that I need to delete, not people , but companies that snag you at the checkout.

    I check my emails regularly each day because I can on my phone.

    • Hi Wendy, I find facebook to be a handy communication tool especially when overseas. I can phone people using messenger when in range of free wifi without it costing me a cent of international roaming. But, as for the rest of it, I am beginning to think a lot like you. Too much coming through my feed, too many opinions that aren’t in keeping with my moral standards. I am even starting to question my relationships with people I am close to because of the kinds of things they post into the world that frankly I would be embarrassed to be associated with. I am going to have to give this all some serious thought.

      • Colleen, I know what you mean about some of the things people post. I may even agree with what they post but I get really tired of those who have a political agenda and everything they post is about that. Or there are the ones who think everyone wants to see the jokes/cartoons/funny videos they find. I just get really tired of it all. If I could ditch FB it would be gone in a minute.

    • WendyF, I am not a fan of Facebook but for me it is a necessity. This is the only way I can keep up with the church going on and also with some of my friends who live out of town/coutry. They see it as a way to let everyone know what is going on rather than sending out seperate emails to everyone or meet face-to-face with everyone. I have tried other routes but people seem to feel they don’t have time for anything else. Even most of my family keeps in touch this way.

  8. WendyF – my husband finally set up a Facebook with much help from our kids. After a couple of weeks of excitedly friending and being friended he got up one morning, saw a post from each of our kids (they’re aged 20, 18 and 17 so their social lives are a lot more exciting than ours) and all three had something posted that he decided he’d rather not know, and so in the name of confident parenting, he cancelled his facebook. There was nothing awful just stuff that makes you roll your eyes and shake your head. Yes I am friends with my kids on FB but I don’t get feeds, we mainly use it to message photos and share special occasions.

  9. The social media networks drive me nuts. It’s my own downfall, I just don’t understand why it is necessary and how to use it (I am too old school, I guess). Hurray to those who love it, I might be a bit jealous of your ability to navigate the social media sites because I am lost.

    As far as decluttering the time on social media, I don’t even use it (although I did try Facebook but gave up on that). Social media sites are changing the etiquette of a younger generation. For my part, I’d rather use my time to write a handwritten note and pop a good ole’ stamp on it and mail it!

    Texting is awesome, email is fine, getting together for a cup of coffee is priceless!!!!!

    • Annabelle,
      I couldn’t agree more. I love putting pen to paper and I love face to face interaction.
      Some “old fashioned” things we used to do are still relevant and in my opinion,
      I believe it was Albert Einstein who said something like this…
      I fear the day when technology surpasses human interaction. Then we will be raising
      a generation of idiots.

    • Annabelle, I prefer handwritten notes too. Unfortunately, like you said most people seem to be stuck in the social media craze. That means they don’t use anything else to communicate unless it is texting.

  10. Chuckled over the posts about our kids and our FB pages. A couple of years ago I came across an exchange my daughters had over me requesting they friend me. Younger daughter messaged older daughter “omg…Mom wants me to friend her. Did you friend her? What should I do!” Like they really had anything to hide! It made me laugh!
    I am holding steady at 5 FB friends: my 2 daughters, 2 godchildren and a former pastor.
    Anything computer related (internet searches, FB, youtube, etc) can be a real black hole if we don’t exercise self control!

    • Karen, I like your statement, “Anything computer related (internet searches, FB, youtube, etc) can be a real black hole if we don’t exercise self control!”

  11. Hi, Deb J. I try to keep this Pinterest quote in mind:
    “You can’t recycle wasted time”, when it comes to activities, both online and off.

  12. I was one of the first in germany with facebook, I created an account after I travelled central america. It was nice to stay in contact with those I met. three years later it turned into this “social media hell” that you guys still battle with.
    I deactivated my facebook-account precicely 3 years ago (after full 3 years of using it), when I was writing my final thesis. it kept me from actually getting stuff done and I wasted hours without any good result. After 3 months of graduation I found myself not missing it at all and I finally deleted the account.
    My friends sometimes forget that I dont use “the internet”, but in the end they always call or text me when I am missing an important event. After all, I do talk to people and they do inform me – even without facebook.
    I stay in contact with friends abroad. we skype, we email, we visit. we actually meet and update personally. it is much much nicer to have a deep meaningful conversation with a person face to face even if it is only twice a year than to get daily-life-details in a constant “stream” or newsfeed.

    I just got home from a week canooing with my girlfriend. I wanted to spend my birthday away from everyone, but my loved one. I kept my phone switched off, but only talked to my mother and brother. it was amazing. soothing. no screen. no touching little computers. I think I will do this more often now. use the phone, switch it off and then get on with real life. 🙂

    • Lena, I am glad you were able to find a way to keep in contact with those you care about. It’s nice to be able to have in person contact too. I am unable to do that because of my health but am so excited for those who can. I do wish we could go back to what we used to have on facebook instead of this mess we have now. If I can figure out a way to get off it I surely will.