A few people have asked me how to get a girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife, or other friend off of Facebook and other social media. It is an interesting question, and one that people obviously are looking for an answer to. I will admit right away that I do not have all the answers, and I am sure that getting a loved one off Facebook has a lot in common with getting a loved one off of drugs and/or alcohol. However, that being said, the loved one may not see a problem with Facebook (or other social media) and may not want to leave.
First, it is a good idea to show that loved one how leaving (a)social media has helped you out. Have you accomplished a lot since leaving Facebook? Did you previously spend hours reading Twitter? Did that Pinterest account take way too much of your time? Did you babysit LinkedIn until your brain felt obliterated? Talk with that loved one, and tell them how your life has improved. Do something productive while they are on (a)social media.
Second, if you want a loved one to leave (a)social media, than you must stay away from it. Do not check their account, do not sign up, and try to not talk much about it. Show them that sites like Facebook play absolutely no part in your life. When they ask questions such as "do you miss Facebook", tell them the truth nicely and explain why you left. Ask them questions back to stimulate thought. Some good questions are:
*Do you ever think about leaving Facebook?
*Do you think you are missing out on other activities by spending time on social networking sites?
*Is there something else you would rather do than check your Facebook/Twitter/MySpace?
*Do you feel your life is lacking compared to others?
*What do you find enjoyable about being on sites such as Facebook?
*What do you think your life would be like without such sites? Would it be horrible/better?
*Do you ever miss the days before social networking?
*How long do you think you could go without social networking?
*Do you ever feel angry or upset by the amount of time you spend on or by the actions of other people on social networking sites?
You may think of some better questions to ask. Chances are, you know a lot about that loved one, and know how to get them to think. If they are older, chances are they probably do miss something about a world before Facebook and other social networking. If they are young, they might not understand what it was like before cell phones and Facebook, and other such technology. You may want to entice them to learn about that part of history.
Third, don't belittle the person for not wanting to give up social networking. Perhaps the individual in question does not see social networking as an addiction. Many people don't. Some people do not think that Facebook can be seen as an addiction. Although sites like Facebook are not evil in themselves, they often can and do bring out negative emotions in people. And while those sites are merely tools, they breed a deep curiosity about the lives of others that makes it very hard to not check. As humans, who are very social by nature, we want to know what others are doing. We want to know how our competition is getting by. It is natural that we are drawn to sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn. Such sites have opened up a portal into the lives of others. Where I grew up, in a very small community, people used to talk about the lives of others. In environments like high school and college, many individuals keep tabs on others. Neighbors like to know what their neighbors are doing. Facebook has made that easy, as every person on the site is a potential neighbor. As such, being on (a)social media is very tempting for some. More tempting for some than others (some people automatically hate sites like Facebook and never would consider joining). We all have our vices, and if you want to help someone, you must not make them feel bad for being on Facebook. If you do, chances are they will only become defensive and find reasons why they should not leave. It may become a battle between the two of you that could last a very, very long time.
The goal is to get the individual in question to start moving towards recovery, NOT to give up Facebook right away. Giving up something "cold turkey" is good for some people, but for many, it does not work. I had a friend who loved to eat meat, but she one day decided to be vegan. Guess how long that lasted? Not very. Like my friend, many people may love Facebook. They may find (a)social media to be their connection to the outside world. Perhaps they do not have many offline friends, but online, they are very popular. Perhaps they were ridiculed in high school, but now they believe that they are suddenly cool. Maybe your loved one is proud of his/her life accomplishments and feels that the only way they can really share those accomplishments is via (a)social networking. Recovery will involve showing that individual that there is a life beyond (a)social networking: that there is a way to share their accomplishments with others in different forms. There are other ways to be social where people are accepting. Ways that involve real human interaction.
When you show your loved one that you have a real life outside of Facebook they may start to become curious. They may see that you are happier away from Facebook than you were when you were on Facebook. (A)social media is full of fighting amongst individuals, petty bickering, and psychological competition. Chances are that your loved one will start to become unhappy with their (a)social media experience sooner or later. Chances are they will not log in for an extended period. If this happens, this would be a great time to open dialog with that person. Talk to that person, ask if they have ever thought about leaving, or taking a break. Ask them the questions outlined above, even if you have asked them before. Do not push the subject too much, and show them that you care.
Proper treatment involves removing the desire to log on (a)social media. Take your loved one somewhere where they are not surrounded by a computer. Offer to take them to a park, on a walk, camping, or even the mall. Spend time conversing. Ask them if they would not mind leaving their cell phone (the portal to (a)social media) behind. Tell that person that you would like some time alone with them. Just the two of you. They may not understand (it's hard to get people away from their cell phones I have found). However, let them know that it's important. Chances are they will have a more memorable time without the phone than they would checking it every few minutes.
At home, plan activities that do not involve the computer. A movie night, gardening, painting, and similar activities foster creativity. Is there something that your loved one enjoyed doing that now lacks because of (a)social media? Perhaps your loved one liked to write before Facebook. Show some interest in their writings. Ask to read some of the things they made. Perhaps help them create a blog on which they can write while on the computer. If the loved one likes to draw, purchase them a nice art set. Consider taking a class with them. There are many things that one can do away from (a)social media that will make someone feel that they are creating their own life; a fuller life than sitting behind a screen waiting for a new status update to appear.
Consider the fact that the reaction from the loved one could be negative. They may see your want to get them off Facebook as a way to control or manipulate them. You must not be too rushed to end their addiction. Ridding an addiction takes a lot of time. Further, if you force the issue, they may feel the need to sneak onto sites like Facebook. It is all too easy to log in with a cell phone when nobody is looking. Further, do not take matters into your own hands and change their password or try to lock them out of their own account: that is a serious breach of trust. It is incredibly easy to get one's password changed if forgotten, and it will only bring more misery than is necessary.
The best way to make someone give up (a)social media is to show them that life without it is very enjoyable. Suggest they keep a journal of their progress. Show curiosity in the accomplishments that they have made. Congratulate them for all that they do. Encourage them to create something. Show them the joy in living without (a)social media. Encourage them to call others instead of using the computer to e-mail. Share your life and your accomplishments since leaving Facebook as they unfold. If they log on Facebook again, do not become angry. Chances are they will feel a compelling urge to go back at least once. However, they may find that Facebook is silly or not as great as they once thought. Perhaps they will only be angry at themselves for logging on, and you should not add to their anger or frustration. Tell them that you too had the urge to go back (if true) and tell them that it is normal.
It is possible to get a loved one to leave Facebook and other (a)social media, but you must show compassion instead of being controlling. (A)social media may be popular at this point in history, but chances are it will fade away in time. Show your loved one that you will accept them no matter what choices they make. After all, many relationships seem to end all too easily in this age.
If you are looking for other ways to get your loved one off (a)social media, there are many addiction websites that may offer help, as well as support groups for addiction in your area. If the individual agrees that they have an addiction, being there for them is the best thing you can do.