Why I Don’t Pay Attention to Facebook Tags, Notifications, or Invites Anymore

I’m still on Facebook . . . barely. I don’t check it nearly as much as I used to and I’ve never been a big fan of it. Most of my friends (the people I know in real life) don’t use it. And over the last three years, I’ve watched a ton of my other friends leave it for various reasons. I’ve contemplated leaving it too and I might someday.

As I pointed out in Can’t Keep Up? 8 Ways to Simplify Your Online Life, I spend a small slice of my life online. And this blog is my primary means for communicating on the Web.

That wasn’t always the case. In past years, I was very active on social media, following the conversations, interacting with the discussions, and watching the online blood baths (mostly between Christians, sadly). But it became a time vampire and I had to make some hard decisions.

So in 2012, I cut my online social media time down drastically to less than 25 minutes each week. And it’s one of the best and wisest decisions I’ve ever made.

That said, I receive hundreds of Facebook “tags,” “notifications,” and “invites” weekly. But many months ago I stopped paying attention to them because I just couldn’t keep up with the volume. None of them reach my Email box either because that function is turned off. I also have all “group” notifications turned off. (If you want to know how to turn off these notifications and/or keep them from reaching your Email inbox, ask me in a comment and I’ll ‘splain.) In like manner, I’m not able to keep up with Twitter tags either for the same reason.

However, even though my interactions are limited on Facebook and Twitter, I’m still accessible. If you wish to contact me, don’t tag me on Facebook or Twitter because I won’t see it. Instead, go to the Contact page on this blog as it explains how to reach me for various purposes.

On that score, the interactions, connections, and relationships I’ve made through this blog over the years have become invaluable to me. And I’m grateful to all of you who subscribe and check-in each day. Making the blog my “home base” (so to speak) and the primary means for communicating online has made a huge difference in uncluttering my life.

If you’re having your own battles with the online clock, you may want to consider streamlining your communications as well. You can still stay connected but be more productive and less distracted at the same time. What online tools you personally use and how you use them will vary for each individual. But streamlining is certainly worth pursuing if you’re having a hard time keeping up with all the noise. And remember, there’s a real world out there beyond this virtual one.

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Comments

  1. Robyn G says

    I totally agree that electronics of all sorts…phones, ipads, tv, gaming stations can draw us in and sap time. I have been fairly good at limiting myself electronically, but love the fact that Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with many friends and family that are scattered nationally and worldwide. However, more and more I am honing the skill of very quickly determining what posts are worthwhile and also limiting the days, hours minutes on the hook. I truly believe an elective class on managing electronic media and electronic media ethics/manners would be very valuable in our educational systems :)

  2. Marcus Pina says

    I agree as others have mentioned that social media can in fact be a huge time waster and drain hours out of what could be a producive day. However with that said, I do believe social media is fulfilling a built in desire/need to be connected with each other. I believe as you have mentioned Frank in your books and other posts that we were created to be Relational with each other. Social Media provides a way to create relationships thus fulfilling that built in need for community.

    There is a generation that is completely sold out to this type of community but are lacking proper guidance on how to conduct themselves among this sometimes impersonal medium. I hear time and again strong Men and Woman of Faith willing to leave social media when I beleive more should be impacting and creating a stronger influence for these younger virtual communities.

    I sometimes look through my teenagers Facebook timeline to see what his peers are discussing and let me tell you if ever there was a place and need for Godly influence Facebook is ground zero.

    • Loretta says

      You’re absolutely right on this one Marcus. If there is one reason my presence is still felt (?) on facebook and gmail, it’s because I see the need for Godly influence. Several years ago I saw that there was a tremendous volume of traffic on the net, but much of it was unwholesome to say the least. The feedback is not encouraging, there is hardly any at all these days, but I persist in the hope that someone out there will be impacted for Christ. That given we must draw firm boundaries or else it can become a huge time snatcher and also be clear that what we are doing is merely pre-evangelism. There is no substitute for the church and face to face interaction.

  3. says

    Thanks for this post Frank, it is yet another confirming message to me.

    Oddly, I have given this very thing much thought lately. I plan on making some kind of changes regarding my participation in social media, particularly facebook groups. There seems to be an unending battle of the flesh that is so hurtful to many, horrendous statements, ugly and slanderous statements, and judging of everyone with each person’s personal opinions that goes on in most facebook groups, so much so, that I have had enough, more than enough. I think, so much of what is said (typed communication to others) would never ever be said to a person if they were face-to-face with them. I have been on the social media sites going on three years now. I have gained much and I have lost much. I see myself making some very big adjustments soon, which probably should have been done long before now. Social media has given me some great friendships, and so, I can’t say that it is all bad, not at all. I have seen “Christians” hurt other “Christians” to the point of tears, or at least that is what the words read. Why must we be so cruel to one another merely because we are not face-to-face? I don’t understand. Behind each word is a person, a heart, a face. I would not even have a blog if it wasn’t for my facebook friends. After much encouragement from my friends and fellow believers, I am now a blogger. But, I do need to make some adjustments to my use of social media, there is no doubt in my mind about that.

  4. Jack says

    I have enjoyed reading your blog as well as daily inspirations from a few others. It is as close as I get to connect with others unreligiously. We have a church building we go to, but not community life so I depend on blogs like yours for simply Christ. I write a blog myself and have enjoyed getting to know others from all around the world because of the posts & comments. I keep my blog to post my blog- it’s the only way my parents and older relatives can figure out how to get to it (my blog). Another thing I have noticed is that I often feel bad and not good after visiting some facebook pages. Not so much blood baths, but just little jabs here and there between folks. I notice friends using it as a tool for correcting others. Facebook makes me feel bad, while reading blogs helps me feel uplifted and more connected to others. I have twitter, but still don’t understand what it is so it goes unattended. I think it’s funny to hear people say they “tweeted” something. I don’t feel like I am missing out on much with no twitter and tweeting. You mentioned getting mass notifications turned off… I would like to know how you did that. I checked and didn’t see you posted anything about it, but could be wrong. Sorry if I missed it. How do I stop getting those? Thanks ~Jack

    • Jack says

      When I said I keep my “blog to post my blog”, I meant I keep my facebook to connect my blog posts to it. Sorry.

    • says

      Jack: There are several ways to turn off notifications, etc. Here is one way:

      Go to your Profile page.
      Click the far right wheel at the top right.
      Scroll down to “Privacy Settings” and click it.
      On the right top, you’ll see “Who can see my stuff” and you can adjust that the way you want.
      Then look to your left and click “Tags and Timeline” and adjust those the way you want.
      Then look to your left and click “Notifications.”
      On the right, click “Email” on the left to turn off notifications that come into your Email box.
      On the right, click “Group Activity” to turn off notifications on your groups individually.

      There are other options also that you can explore.

  5. Debra Westbrook says

    Thanks Frank. Well said. My creativity wanes after spending too much time on FB and reading the threads that turn into theological battlefields are a waste of time. Cutting back but I still love it and use it to connect with many friends overseas.

  6. Lou Covey says

    Social media is only effective if you want to communicate with people and expand your knowledge base. If you use it to participate in gossip, the quality of the content will make it virtually useless. But if you approach it with purpose it becomes invaluable. Today I discuss soccer and religion with a man in Iraq. Never met him face to face but our discussions are deep and respectful. I have helped companies identify potential customers that they would never have beena ble to find before. I’ve found housing for the homeless, food for the hungry, and cars for preschool teachers. None of this would have been possible with my “real life” circles. It was only made possible by the proper use of social media.
    Does that mean your lives are not valuable because you can’t find purpose in social media? No, of course not. I know many people who don’t get SM and lead very productive lives. But social media is not, in and of itself, a time waster. It is a tool. If you use it right, it can be productive. Use it wrong and you’ll wonder what the point is.

    • says

      Excellent observation. Many of the atheists and agnostics I’ve been dialoguing with online are from other cities and countries, and I wouldn’t have met them any other way. Social media often introduces them to venues for such discussions like blogs.

  7. says

    Back in the 90′s when social media was practically non-existent, I traveled to 450 cities within the United States and “helped” Newspapers, Media Outlets, and Radio Stations build community online. It was all new then and marked the coming social shift. There have been times, for various reasons, when I’ve grown tired of today’s social media especially when it serves to damage real, physical, and interactive community. That said, I’ve found a reasonable balance and will, until the Lord directs otherwise, continue in the click and the mortar. I don’t think we can declare what’s good or not for others in this way. But, it doesn’t hurt to ask others in the body from time to time if they think you’re spending too much time online.

    Thanks for your thoughts Frank…

    • says

      Good observations, Miguel. Agreed. I think there’s probably a “seasonal” element to this also, at least for me there is. I’ve had seasons where I didn’t blog for months, for example. The same with media of different kinds. Each person’s mileage will vary.

  8. says

    Our family has enjoyed managing a church camp south of Big Timber MT for the past two summers. We’re anticipating our return this May. Internet is limited and for the summer months our time on-line is significantly reduced. Unplugging during those months has taught me that I truly can live with out the interactions that previously felt pressing and important. It’s a refreshing and welcome reprieve.

  9. says

    I have mixed feelings about social media. It definitely can be a time waster, but I also love it because I have moved so many times that it helps me stay in touch better with people from all of those places. Often, I simply will not turn on the computer on the weekends and that is my break. Even though I can check it on my phone, I tend to not participate as much that way (I like typing on a real keyboard better).

  10. lastchancecafe says

    I am so happy and grateful to read this blog today. It helps me feel less alone! Almost everyone I know is on facebook, but I cancelled my account over a year ago. I just don’t like it. I don’t like the changing privacy policies which keep you spinning in circles, and I don’t like communicating solely that way, which is what you often end up doing.

    This little message is just a note of appreciation. I gave Jesus a Theography the highest rating on amazon the other day. I discovered you by accident, when I was searching the net, racking my brains for a way to leave my church gracefully. I stumbled upon your “How Not to Leave a Church” and never looked back. Out of all the “advice” the internet gave me, yours was the most helpful and allowed me to leave gracefully, without too many questions from the pastors.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your books and wonderful blog.
    Reply

  11. Frank Torres says

    Frank thanks for this wonderful post, I completely agree with you. Social media are trying to drag us down and keep us separated from the real world. I also use them in moderation.

  12. says

    Frank,

    I totally agree with you. Social media could easily rob you of time if you don’t know how to use it effectively and it sounds like you are doing just that. I am finally launching my blog some time this week or next. I have always limited my posts to fb to two a day and now with this blog, which I am very nervous to launch btw due to time restraints, will be my main form of communication. I am also stepping out into the “real world” this year to do more speaking than ever before and just praying for Gods grace as I do. Thank you for your dedication to words and for sharing from your heart. Look forward to hearing from you here. Btw the way, just another added comment to your social media recommendations, to cut down time, make sure your posts on fb post to twitter or vice versa. I am sure you know to do this, but just wanted to add it to the conversation. I never even go to my twitter account unless someone messages me there. I also have my linked in connected to a twitter account as well. For business linked in has been extremely effective. Just some thoughts to consider.

  13. Greg says

    Look forward to meeting face-to-face in February.

    While laying in bed last night, I was talking with God (and listening a lot). I felt challenged, called, (or whatever word you want to use) to do something similar leading up to the conference in February. Too much of my “free time” is given to social media and television and movies. Not all bad, but for me too much of a distraction. Hard to hear God with all the busyness. I am greatly looking forward to the upcoming conference and eagerly awaiting what God will do.

  14. says

    Well said – I have always been concerned about the ability of social media to suck people into a place where they often don’t relate to the real world. I work on a University Campus and daily I see people alone in the midst of a crowd – where they are with people, but not – because they are locked into a text or something online. It really is sad to see how impersonal this world has become. Sadly, this becomes an impediment to ministry and evangelism because so many withdraw into their own pretend world.

  15. says

    I have been wanting to cut back on the amount of things that I do in social media as well, especially Facebook, but I keep getting drawn back in. I have several things that I want to be doing, like reading, writing, and exercising, but time always runs out. Time to really identify those things that are not productive uses of time if I want to accomplish some of my other goals

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