photo: Sarah Marshall

Don’t quit Facebook for 2017. Quit parenting.

The season of New Year’s resolutions is upon us, bringing with it a fresh set of declarations and blog posts about quitting Facebook. There are a few major reasons people say they quit Facebook, or want to quit Facebook, or have become better and smarter since quitting Facebook. And I have to say, these reasons are really compelling reasons to quit.

But not to quit Facebook: to quit parenting.

Check it out:

photo: San Francisco Bay Guardian

It causes FOMO.

Looking at Facebook can cause people to experience FOMO — Fear of Missing Out — because they see all the amazing things other people are experiencing, accomplishing and acquiring. But while Facebook may cause you to fear you are missing out, parenting ensures that you actually miss out: miss out on the vacation you could afford for one or two but not for a family of four or five; miss out on the party you can’t attend because you can’t find a babysitter; miss out on the job you can’t take because the hours are too crazy. Ironically, you have been trapped in this situation by the Fear of Missing Out on having children.

photo: RHiNO NEAL

It invades my privacy.

Facebook is often criticized for its privacy policies, and for the sheer volume of data it amasses on users. But you get to decide whether Facebook comes into the bathroom with you while you’re taking a shit. Your kids just walk in.

photo: Freaktography

It’s a waste of time.

Yes, Facebook can suck hours out of your day. But you know what really takes a lot of time? Parenting. I mean, from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed, kids are all, “I’m bored, Mommy”, “I have a boo-boo, Mommy” and even “I’m hungry, Mommy”. And while you can manage the time sucking aspect of social media by simply limiting yourself to fifteen minutes a day, people are really judgmental if you limit yourself to fifteen minutes of parenting a day.

photo: Paul Inkles

It manipulates me.

Facebook’s algorithms are a cause for increasing concern, as it develops the ability to feed us the content and ads that keep us clicking, or that advertisers pay for. But the manipulations of Facebook’s algorithms have nothing on a motivated 5-year-old. Promoted content can be intrusive, but it doesn’t actually scream in your ear until you give in and hand it a cookie.

photo: Sarah Marshall

It interferes with my productivity.

People often complain that Facebook is so distracting that it affects their productivity. If I weren’t distracted by Facebook, these complaints imply, I would have written the Great American Novel or started the next…well, the next Facebook. But parenting is even worse for productivity, because the mere act of acquiring children can make work seem less important than the future of the planet or simply spending time with your family. As a result, your career stalls, you never get that promotion, your income stagnates and the world has to move forward without your unique genius — all outcomes that could be avoided if you quit parenting today!

photo: bark

It makes me a worse person.

Some people feel like the tenor of Facebook conversation has a corrupting influence on their character, because comment threads can turn into conflicts far nastier than we typically experience offline. Presumably these are people who have never screamed at their children to SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY, because there is nothing like cursing at your child to make you realize that there is no way the Internet could ever deplete and degrade you the way your own children can when they are at their most annoying.

photo: jenny cu

It interferes with my sleep.

Many experts advise against using your phone or computer right before bed — and against keeping your phone in your bedroom — because that habit of looking at Facebook before you go to sleep makes it harder to unplug and wind down. Once again, I would much rather sleep in a bed with my iPhone than in a bed with my kids. My husband and I have dubbed our 13-year-old the “bed kraken” because she grows additional limbs while she sleeps, waking us up constantly with her knees and elbows. If I didn’t have kids who climbed into my bed every other night, I could use Facebook until 2 am and still get more sleep than I do now.

photo: Thomas Hawk

It’s intriguing to imagine life without it.

Many of those who embark on digital fasts do so because they’re curious to see what it would be like to go without Facebook for a few days. This is similar to my feelings about divorce and joint custody: I still basically like my husband, but I’m intrigued by the idea of splitting up so that I can have 3 or 4 days a week without my kids. When I imagine my life without Facebook, the biggest change I can envision is writing a little bit more, and maybe getting out an extra night a week. When I imagine my life without children, I picture a life in which I sleep until 11 on weekends, make only one meal for dinner, and never, ever watch videogame walkthroughs on YouTube.

Despite the many potential benefits, I will not be resolving to quit parenthood on January 1st — for the same reason I won’t quit Facebook. If those of us who think deeply about personal and social development step away from parenthood, who will be raising the children that shape the future world we’ll all live in?

And if those same folks step away from Facebook, who will determine the shape of our digital world?

Author, Remote Inc: How To Thrive at Work…Wherever You Are. Tech speaker. Writer & data journalist for Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review & more.

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