This NYT article talks about people who are abandoning Facebook, as a kind of cold-turkey response to their own addiction. One high-schooler said that she’d sit down at the computer and find that her fingers “would automatically go to Facebook.”
In Switch, we talk about why it’s usually easier to avoid tempting situations altogether than to resist temptation in the moment. But Facebook addicts will have a very hard time avoiding the tempting situation. Teens, for instance, spend an average of 31 hours per week online — and Facebook will always be one click away. (Imagine if a recovering alcoholic could click one button and have a glass of booze at hand. It would certainly complicate things.)
A better option is something that might sound, at first glance, a bit absurd. There’s free software called “Freedom” that simply prevents you from getting online for a period of time that you set. Freedom allows you to remove the temptation completely, rather than fight it minute-by-minute.
Thousands of people have downloaded Freedom — here’s one of them, the writer Rebecca Traister, explaining why she took the plunge:
“I bet I am not alone in my near frantic desire to be released — for very brief periods, always with an escape hatch — from the tyranny of my own wandering attention. I may not have known it, but for some time, I have wanted something forceful, computerized and beyond the realms of my own self-determination to come and muffle the beeping, buzzing, ringing, flashing distractions of our technological age so I can get some ******* work done.”