Facebook might be a harmless once-a-day opportunity for you to check in with friends and family. But it also might have crept into your life to the point where it is interfering with your ability to do your job well, and, more importantly, with your ability to connect with people and be happy.

Daniel Gulati recently wrote about researching his book Passion & Purpose, and how he interviewed hundreds of young business leaders and came to some very negative conclusions about Facebook.

Distracted Lawyers Lawyer Badly

The most important problem Facebook creates for lawyers is how it distracts us. Do you access Facebook at home, at work, and on your mobile device while on the move? Do you check in several times a day? Do you post often? Gulati writes:

Sketching out a mind-numbing presentation for the board meeting? Perhaps it’s time to reply to your messages. Stuck in traffic? It’s time to browse your newsfeed. Recounted one interviewee, “I almost got hit by a car while using Facebook crossing the street.”

All this leaping from one task to another degrades the quality of our work by imposing “switching costs,” the costs in time and quality of work that result from the brain continually needing to recalibrate on different tasks. This reduces the quality of the work and makes all tasks take longer than they should. Srikumar Rao calls mindfulness over multitasking one of his 10 steps to happiness at work.

Face to Face? Whatever For?

Facebook also replaces in-person interaction. One might argue that it does keep you in touch with people you’d not connect with otherwise, and that’s true. But if you are at the coffee shop alone, on Facebook, instead of with a friend, that’s just not the same kind of connection as face-to-face. It just isn’t. When I asked three friends to give up a summer weekend to help me tear the roof off my house in 96 degree heat, the two of them that showed up created a bond with me that a billion hours of Facebook chat cannot replicate. A hug from a friend is better than a million Facebook “likes.” If Facebook takes time you could be spending on real human interaction, it’s time to make a change.

Sam Glover is right: if you want to grow your practice, don’t “network.” Go spend time with real people doing something. Also, don’t give up time with people for Facebook or any other diversion that requires an electronic device. And leave the smartphone in your pocket the entire time you’re kickin’ it old school.

(photo: Shutterstock)