Just about three days ago a Dutch ad company issued the infamous challenge: Can you go 99 days without Facebook?
"In response to Facebook's controversial mood experiment involving some 700,000 unwitting users, we present you 99 Days of Freedom; an online study on how life without Facebook impacts user happiness. Joining is very simple: follow our three-step instruction to join the experiment for as long as you like. We can't wait to hear how you spend your time off," states the welcoming note on the group's website.
The agency behind the effort claims a three-month break from the social network site will not only make you happier but will save you 28 hours of time, as the network estimates users spend about 17 minutes a day checking posts, posting photos, liking posts, following links and updating their Facebook status.
So for those taking the challenge, Tech Times wanted to offer some potential ways to make good on that time saved. After all, 28 hours is more than a weekly part-time job, it breaks down to about an hour a day for an entire month, or 1,680 minutes of "free time" you now have at your disposal.
- Read four autobiographical tomes about four historical people (dead or alive) who interest you.
- Volunteer an hour a week, for seven weeks, at a homeless shelter where real-life issues, such as food and housing, don't compare with Internet games and socializing online.
- Take an hour walk every night for 28 days around your neighborhood at dinnertime or after, and you're guaranteed to meet at least a half dozen neighbors who've been living near you for years but whom you've never met.
- Pick one night a week, for the three months, and call a friend and catch up, starting with that friend you've been sharing with on Facebook for years but haven't talked to since kindergarten.
- Go to the library once a week for three months, head to the DVD movie section, close your eyes and pick a selection and go home and watch it, even if it's a horror flick and you hate horror flicks. You might just be surprised.
- Clean out every closet, every dresser drawer, every trunk, the bags in the attic and gather up all the decent clean clothes no one in the family no longer wears or cares about and donate them to two nearby churches.
- Commit to consistently donating blood and platelets, over a four to six month time period, to a nearby donor blood bank. If that's not medically feasible, call the blood bank and ask to volunteer at three local drives over the next three months. They're always in need of volunteers.
- Buy some nice stationery, get a book of stamps and write thank you letters to military servicemen and servicewomen who not only don't have access to social networks, but who are protecting Americans every day of their lives. Here's a link to get started:
- Hold two community yard sales with the new neighbors you've met in the past few days of walking around the neighborhood and donate the proceeds to a favorite charity, or buy toys for a pediatric wing at a local hospital.
- Set up a lemonade stand for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises money to battle children's cancer, at your local supermarket or Old Navy store (they're a corporate sponsor for the organization) for two weekends. (And take photos so you can share the extraordinary experience of doing good when you're back on Facebook).
The best part of this list is that 99 percent of the suggestions don't cost a dime, though they do cost in time -- and you have that time to spend.
The second best part is you'll be amazed at how many things you learn, the number of people you'll meet face to face, the thousands of ways you can help others without much effort, and it's all done in real life.
The third best part is that all these options are guaranteed to bring happiness into your life, which means you've met the challenge. It'll make those hours of playing Farmville and posting inspirational sayings and photos of your vacation seem pretty darn trivial.