Facebook Fridays: What I Learned While Restricting Social Media to 1 Day Per Week

I spend too much time on social media, and I’m not alone. The average adult spends between two and three hours on the platforms every day. In a quest for productivity, I decided to limit my Facebook use to Fridays. Here’s what I learned.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I spend too much time on social media, and I’m not alone. The average adult spends between two and three hours on the platforms every day. Teenagers spend between five and seven hours a day scrolling through their phones or laptops.

Before this month, I estimated my usage at well below those benchmarks. I only use Facebook, and I thought I only spent between 30-45 minutes a day using it. Given the above statistics, however, I suspected I was underestimating how much time I wasted. In a quest for productivity, I decided to limit my Facebook use to Fridays. Here’s what I learned.  

Mental Health

I’ve heard Twitter described as “a virtual insane asylum.” My brief experience with the platform confirms that. When I stopped using Twitter, my mental health improved dramatically. I hoped to see further improvements when I restricted my Facebook use, but what I found surprised me.

I considered myself a light-moderate Facebook user, but I was shocked how instinctual it was for me log in. I automatically clicked the bookmark and scrambled to close the tab before the page loaded. My first Facebook-free week, I became frustrated with my restrictions, and fighting the temptation took significant effort. When Friday finally rolled around, I spent over an hour scrolling through everything I’d missed, and my husband reports I was more easily upset by people’s inflammatory posts.

As the month went on, Facebook gradually lost its grip on my psyche. I no longer logged in by instinct, and I didn’t feel the compulsion to share every mildly interesting article I read. On Fridays, I usually decided it wasn’t worth my time to catch up on everything I’d missed. I enjoyed feeling back in control of my own head, but they were some downsides.

I belong to several hobby groups on Facebook, and I missed being able to ask for tips whenever I wanted. I also missed a couple social events because I hadn’t seen the posts in time. My nieces’ birthday (all three of them share the same date) came, and I confess I snuck some late-Thursday looks at their pictures (Thursday night rounds up to Friday, right?). The ultimate purpose of social media is social connection, and I missed that aspect of Facebook.


I expected restricting Facebook would open a vast swath of new productive time, but it didn’t. As it turns out, I only use Facebook when I’m braindead and need a break. Instead of using Facebook, I started watching YouTube or taking naps. Scrolling through my newsfeed only took about ten minutes, but my replacement behaviors wasted far more time. I ended up being less productive when I restricted my Facebook use.

I ended up being less productive when I restricted my Facebook use.

Facebook’s Tactics

One of the biggest surprises was how aggressively Facebook pursued me after I stopped using it daily. They started sending me emails every time someone messaged me, even though I eliminated email notifications in the settings. The same occurred with in-app notifications. I set Facebook to notify me only if someone replies to something I’ve posted, if I’m not posting anything, I shouldn’t receive any notifications. As soon as I restricted my use to Fridays, however, they started notifying me about everything. Every time someone posted in a group or added a picture, the little bell would increase like the line at the DMV. Fridays inundated me with notifications I hadn’t asked for.  

In short, Facebook behaved like an ex-boyfriend who wouldn’t stop texting me asking to get back together.

Facebook behaved like an ex-boyfriend who wouldn’t stop texting me asking to get back together.

This shouldn’t have surprised me. After all, Facebook monetizes its users’ attention. If you’re not attending, they’re not making money. Encouraging people to re-engage when their behavior changes is good business. I knew that before this month, but to experience it personally left a sour taste in my mouth. I thought I was restricting my use of Facebook, but I was really restricting Facebook’s use of me, and they were not happy about it.

I thought I was restricting my use of Facebook, but I was really restricting Facebook’s use of me


My month-long restriction of Facebook led me to the following conclusions:

  1. Checking Facebook was an unhealthy instinct even for me, a light-moderate user with less than 100 friends.
  2. Facebook is a waste of time.
  3. When denied access to Facebook, I will waste even more time in other ways.
  4. Though restricting Facebook led to some improvements in my mental health, I missed the positive aspects of virtual connection.
  5. Facebook has motives of its own. It doesn’t concern itself with my wellbeing, but it aggressively pursues what’s best for its bottom line.

I thought at the end of this month I would have discovered such vast improvements in mental health and productivity that I would quit Facebook like I did Twitter. My actual conclusions are more mixed. Limiting social media definitely benefitted me, but I think there is room for a healthy balance. What that balance looks like, I’m not sure, but this experiment gave me helpful insights in determining a way forward.

Bad Lip Reading and the McGurk Effect

Lip reading is much harder than the movies make it look. Read on to find out why.

Lip reading is much harder than the movies make it look. The youtube channel Bad Lip Reading pokes fun at this by matching funny lines to lip movements. Watch this clip bellow to get a better idea.

The reason they are able to do this, and the reason lip reading is so hard, is that there are few visual cues for English speech Sounds, and many sounds share the same visual cue. Consider the following:

Pressing the Lips Together

Sounds made by pressing the lips together, or bilabial sounds, include /b/, /p/ /m/.

Lip Rounding

Sounds accompanied by lip rounding include:  /w/ and vowels in the boot, boy, cow, and boat. There is also a little with “sh” and /r/, though /r/ is mild and more puckered.

Lip Spreading

Sounds made by spreading the lips apart include the vowel in “eat.”

Teeth and Lip

Sounds made by contacting the teeth and lip are called labiodental and include /f/ and /v/.

Tongue Tip Behind Front Teeth

If a speaker opens their mouth wide enough, the lip reader can see when the tongue tip touches the bony outcrop behind the front teeth called the alveolar ridge. Sounds produced this way include /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/. /s/ and /z/ are also made in this location, but the mouth is usually too closed to see them. That closure is necessary to create the friction needed to create those sounds. 

Open Mouth

Sounds produced towards the back of the mouth, /k/, /g/, and to some extent /r/, are accompanied by an open mouth.

How Bad Lip Reading Works

To create a Bad Lip Reading video, the youtuber merely has to watch for the few visual cues described above and match the sounds to them. As long as they choose sounds with the same visual cue, they can substitute almost anything they want. This makes it easy to put words in other people’s mouths.

Before dismissing the importance of visual cues in speech, however, consider the McGurk Effect.

The McGurk Effect

The McGurk Effect occurs when the visual cues don’t match the audio. When this happens, our brains integrate the information, and we perceive a sound somewhere in between. Watch this video, created by professor 
Arnt Maasø at the University of Oslo, twice. The first time, keep your eyes closed. Open your eyes for the second time. 

The first time you probably heard /ba/ because that was the audio. The second time you likely heard something closer to /da/ because your brain integrated the audio for /ba/ with the visual for the /ga/, so you perceived something in between. 

There may not be many visual cues for lip reading, but they are important. Next time you speak to someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, be sure they can see your mouth. 

Like what you read? Click HERE to subscribe.

5 Reasons People Change Their Accents Without Realizing

Over the holidays I was mercilessly teased for my diphthongs. Before you imagine something far worse than necessary, let me clarify that a diphthong is a combination of vowel sounds spoken in one syllable—think the “ah-oo” in “cow.” Minnesota where I was raised, monophthongs predominate, particularly the “long o.” A Minnesotan says boat as “b-oh-t,” where many others would use a diphthong “b-oh-oo-t.”

Only four years after trading Minnesota’s mosquitos for Montana’s mountains, diphthongs have weaseled their way into my speech, much to the amusement of my friends and family. My brother mistakenly characterized my new accent as“twang.” My best friend was closer, saying, “You’re adding extra sounds now.”

As with most areas of speech and language, how and why people acquire a second dialect in their native language is a multifactorial process involving linguistic, social, and developmental factors that the speaker may not even be aware of.*


Human beings are masters at getting what we want, when we want it. If someone with a strong accent has to repeat themselves to be understood, they may change their accent out of sheer frustration. In my case, I was perfectly intelligible to people in Montana (though many initially thought I was Canadian), so my accept convergence resulted from other factors.



It is easier for young children to learn a second language, or second dialect, than for adults. One study found that white women who befriended speakers of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) at younger ages acquired more speech characteristics of AAVE than those who befriended them when they were older.[1]

However, this does not mean adults are incapable of changing their accents. Another study found that adult Canadians living in New York began to differentiate between the vowels in cot and caught, which would be pronounced identically in Canadian (as well as Minnesotan) English.[2] A third study of Canadians in Alabama found similar findings.[3] Remarkably, you do not have to be a speech-language pathologist or linguist to hear these differences. Just as my brother and friend noticed my use of diphthongs, untrained listeners were able to rate the American-ness in the Canadians’ speech.[4]


People are more likely to change their accents if the new accent is considered more prestigious. For example, a person who speaks Appalachian English may useStandard English in the workplace. Another example is newscasters adopting a more standard variety of English to reach a broader audience.


Generally speaking, women tend to be more linguistically innovative than men.[5] If you want to know what people will sound like in the future, listen to teenage girls. Women also tend to more readily acquire prestige dialects, while men may stick with working-class speech.[6] That being said, as gender roles in society continue to change, this tendency may change as well.

Social Connection and Social Distance

Another reason people change their accents is to be accepted into a social group or to emulate someone whom they admire. Simply put, if I like you, I am more prone to talk like you, and if I talk like you, you are more apt to like me. The reverse is also true. If I don’t like you, I will try to distance myself from you by the way I speak.

This phenomenon extends even to the topic of conversation. When speaking of something related to the first dialect, a hometown, for example, the speaker will be more likely to use that dialect if they have positive feelings toward it. If the speaker hated their hometown, however, they may be more apt to use their second dialect when speaking about it.[7]

As society continues to become more mobile, we are likely to see an increase in the number of bi-dialectal speakers. Acquiring a second dialect is a natural, though complex, process, so when one of your friends or relatives returns from a trip abroad with a bit of “twang,” try not to make fun of them too much.

Like what you read? Click HERE to subscribe.

*Note: I have used the terms accent and dialect relatively interchangeably in this post, but they are different. An accent refers strictly to speech sounds, while a dialect is an entire language variation. For example, Minnesotans refer to sugary, carbonated soft drinks as pop, while someone from the South may refer to them as cokes. This is a dialectal variation that has nothing to do with accent.

[1] Fix, Sonya. “Age of Second Dialect Acquisition and Linguistic Practice Across Ethno-Racial Boundaries in the Urban Midwest,” n.d.,12.

[2] Nycz, Jennifer. “NewContrast Acquisition: Methodological Issues and Theoretical Implications.” English Language and Linguistics, Phonological Mergers in English, 17, no. 2(2013): 325–57. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1360674313000051.

[3] [4]  Munro, Murray J, Tracey MDerwing, and James E Flege. “Canadians in Alabama: A Perceptual Study ofDialect Acquisition in Adults.” Journal of Phonetics 27, no. 4 (October1999): 385–403. https://doi.org/10.1006/jpho.1999.0101.

[5] Trudgill, Peter. “Sex, Covert Prestige and Linguistic Change in the Urban British English of Norwich.”Language in Society 1 (October 1, 1972): 179–95.https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500000488.

[6] Nycz, Jennifer. “ChangingWords or Changing Rules? Second Dialect Acquisition and Phonological Representation.” Journal of Pragmatics 52 (2013): 49–62.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2012.12.014.

[7] Nosowitz, Dan. “We Asked a Linguist to Explain the ‘Semester Abroad Accent.’” Atlas Obscura, 29:00 500.http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/are-semester-abroad-accents-real-or-fake.