That’s right. I’ve been off Facebook for ten whole days and I’m still surviving. Indeed, I haven’t even missed the social media site that so many people rely on each day.
So who challenged me to do this?
It’s simply my own challenge to myself, which I decided on after first, I found myself more and more depressed and despondent after logging off the site and second, after I saw a video from some vloggers on YouTube (see video embedded at the bottom of the post) who did a full Internet break for 30 days. My brother and sister-in-law also take these 30-day breaks from time-to-time as well, but I won’t say he inspired me because then his head will be too big – again.
I chose Facebook over the full internet break because I knew it was my biggest time-suck, with Instagram right behind it. And I knew that by letting it suck me in I was distracting myself from a number of things I want to do with my life, including losing weight, studying the Bible more, learning more about photography, and writing more. While I’ve kept Instagram, because I enjoy interacting with other photographers, I’ve severely limited the time I’m on there as well.So here is the first of a series of posts about some of what being off Facebook has taught me, so far.
• That I used Facebook to distract me from the difficult aspects of my life and from the anxious, swirling thoughts I often have. In the past ten days I have been alone with my thoughts more times than I’d like and I’ve realized a few things: 1) I don’t like to think issues out because I find I sink keeper into depression when I can’t “fix” it all. 2) I would much rather be distracted by someone else’s drama than focus and address my own. 3) that I have been stuffing feelings of anger, rejection, disappointment and loss deep inside for years and hiding it under cute cat memes, political strife, and my own photography. 4) and maybe most importantly of all: my thoughts are really, really boring and many times make no sense, which is probably why I shouldn’t be sharing them on a blog. But, hey, if all those cable news channels can ramble their opinions at us all day long then I guess I can too. Ha.
• That all those people on my “friends list” aren’t necessarily “friends” because in the ten days I have been off Facebook I’ve only heard from three people on that list and two of those people are family members. So, in fact, what this has taught me is that I am pretty much friendless even though Facebook says I have close to 200 of them. That’s actually been the one aspect of all this that has been hardest – beyond having to be alone with my thoughts so often – realizing I actually don’t have more than one close friend in my life at the moment and that none of my “friends” actually live anywhere near me. Ouch.
• That if you aren’t on Facebook you pretty much don’t exist. This one goes hand-in-hand with the “fake friends” bit. If you aren’t on Facebook you aren’t “in the loop” and you aren’t invited to events. You’re also expected to already know what’s happening in the community, your church and the lives of your “friends” (who are really just people on your list) because they “updated on Facebook! Hello!”
This whole idea of anyone who isn’t on Facebook not existing is something I’ve actually known for awhile. I had backed way off personal updates on Facebook for a few months before I pulled the plug for this detox, or challenge, other than the auto shares of these blog posts to my business page. Since no one really reads my blog posts (not a complaint or a whine, just a fact, based on my stats), I really haven’t been sharing a ton of personal thoughts on Facebook.
I had someone tell me, shortly before I abandoned the big social media giant, that they didn’t know anything that was going on in my life because they couldn’t see my status updates. It was true they had been somehow hidden from seeing my updates but I actually hadn’t placed anything on Facebook about all the trials I had been facing and was asking them to pray about. I found their response to my request for prayer a bit odd actually. It seemed that without being able to see my status updates this person had no other way to gauge how I might be doing in my life or if I really needed prayer because apparently, in this modern age, we can only “communicate” by reading a status update. Mind you, we don’t often comment on those status updates that involve someone being in a trial. I mean, we go to social media to unwind, not deal with the problems of others. Get with the program, right?
The person I had messaged had, I guess, lost the ability to actually ask me what was going on, or how I was, because I hadn’t been on Facebook much lately and was slowly fading from existence. The person didn’t know they could message me on messenger, or text or – gasp! – call (who even does that anymore?!) and actually ask me how I was.
If I was slowly fading from existence then, I can only imagine I have completely faded now and am but a speck of nothing floating in the digital ether somewhere.
A few other lessons I am learning from being off Facebook, that I’ll expound on in a future post:
- That there are a lot of great books out there.
- That I need to get involved in activities with actual human beings more.
- That my children are on digital devices way more than they should be.
- That I enjoy exercise and it actually makes me feel better if I do it.
- That I enjoy cooking and it actually makes me feel better when I take the time to do it right.
- That reading God’s word can actually be interesting if I slow down and actually read it!
- That we have too much information flying into our brains on a daily basis and there is simply no way we can process it all and I don’t believe God made us to do so.
- That when people say “I’ll pray for you” on Facebook they usually don’t mean it. They don’t mean it in “real life” either but they really don’t mean it on Facebook.
What will come of this Facebook break? I’m not totally sure, but I’m excited to find out. I believe some of the changes will be positive and I believe I’ll learn more about living life offline and that doing so will be much more enriching than living it online.
Here is the video from Wheezy Waiter that helped inspire me to take the break.