A project called 99 Days of Freedom, launched by Netherlands-based creative agency Just, invites users to replace their profile photo with a “time off” image, start a countdown clock, and take time each month to consider whether they might actually be happier offline.
“We think that real happiness happens in real life,” says art director Merijn Straathof. “I will always prefer a real compliment over a ‘like,’ just as I prefer talking to people in person rather than talking to them on my phone. Facebook is just a really good example of a digital service that’s very addictive and is known to take up a lot of time.”
The average Facebook user spends 17 minutes a day on the site, which adds up to 28 hours over the course of the experiment. The 99-day program is designed to be just long enough to gather some meaningful information about behavior change, but short enough that people won’t lose interest.
The designers make it clear that they’re not anti-Facebook. They just want to encourage people to think about how much time they spend on the site and whether it’s actually improving their lives.
“I honestly think that in 10 years from now, I won’t remember anything that I saw on Facebook,” Straathof says. “But I will remember the things I have done in the real world.”