Boondock Ramblings

Commenting on one of the chapters of A New Beginning that I shared last week, a blog reader told me she likes to read my stories (and serial stories on other blogs like it) to escape from all the negativity in the world today. I told her that was the very reason I was sharing my book in progress on my blog. Not only do I use the story to escape from the negativity of the world, but I want to give others something a little lighter to focus on too.

Last year I deleted my Facebook. Four months later, I added it back to manage my blog page, which I had been managing from a “ghost account.” Here I am again, around the same time I deleted it last year, and I’m ready to delete it again. I won’t delete it again, however, because it is the only way my son currently communicates with one of his friends since I have a Messenger Kids account for him.

Since I don’t want to cut off their main way of communicating at this time (we live 40 minutes away from his friend so we don’t see him every day and this lets them video chat), I’ve instead set up blocks on my computer to remove the temptation of wasting my life away by scrolling on an inane site that often makes life worse, not better.

And yes, I do have that little willpower that I have to set up blocks to keep me off social media, or at least off Facebook. I don’t actually visit other social media sites. I loathe Twitter even more than I loathe Facebook and Pinterest is completely useless and stupid to me. I infrequently use Instagram. I used to use it two or three times a day but haven’t done that since sometime in the fall, I think it was. I finally got sick of caring about whether people cared about what I cared about.

As for Facebook, I get addicted to that not by being on it hours at a time, but by checking it briefly several times a day when I am avoiding doing other things – like packing to move and facing all the emotions with that and facing the reasons for my continuing lack of friendships. When you have spent the majority of your downtime for almost a decade logging into a stupid social media site to do something other than what you should be doing, it can be a hard habit to break.

It’s pretty much a built-in reflex now to wake up and type “Facebook” into my computer each day, which is sad and pathetic. I don’t know what I’m looking for on there anyhow. I never feel better after logging off Facebook. I almost always feel worse and even lonelier than before.

(Incidentally, I don’t click the app on my phone because I haven’t had the Facebook app installed on my phone in two, maybe even three, years.)

Instead of distracting me from loneliness, like I always think it will, being on Facebook fuels my sadness over my lack of friendships because I can see all of those former friends on Facebook, living life and laughing with each other and not caring at all whether I live or die. Yet, each day I believe the lie social media creators like Mark Zuckerberg have drilled into our heads — if you’re not on social media, you’re missing out. In reality, sadly, I am missing out on social media and off it, but maybe someday I will be in the inner circle once again. Like when I’m in my 70s and sitting in a sewing circle.

In the same way that checking out my former friends on Facebook is unhealthy and needs to stop, checking out the latest news about all kinds of bad things going on in the world today is also unhealthy and desperately needs to stop. That’s why in addition to blocking social media from my browser, I have also blocked news sites. My husband works in news, so if a bomb goes off somewhere or some politician gets shot, he’ll let me know. I don’t need to keep reading all the negativity about viruses and nuclear threats and wars and screaming politicians day after day after day. I can create enough negativity within my own mind without all of that. A person can only take so much of that before their mental health starts to be affected negatively.

Like I have done before, I am replacing social media and news with anything I can escape into. Well, not anything – not illicit sex or drugs – but I mean, entertainment or hobbies. I’m blogging (obviously) and often about stupid things (obviously).

I’m writing (books and blog posts).

I’m taking some photos (sometimes anyhow).

I’m reading books.

I’m watching movies.

The bottom line? I’m escaping as much as I can but I know that I can’t escape the bad of life forever.  (I went to check my weather app today and there were articles about that virus when on there!!) If I could live in my bathtub with bubbles and a cup of hot peppermint tea and book for the rest of my life, I probably would at this point.

So, how about you? How do you escape from the stresses of life? Good books? Good movies? Dumb movies (or is that just me?)? Hobbies? Let me know in the comments. If it’s something illegal or dangerous to your personal being, please don’t share here. Just get some help. 😉

I’ve decided the more I’m off social media, the more creative I can be, which is why it looks like another social media detox is coming up in the next week or so and it may last 30-days like I did earlier this year.

Actually, saving my creativity isn’t the only reason for dropping off social media – saving my sanity is more important at this point. In May I actually deleted my Facebook account, except for a ghost account to keep my blog page on there. Ignoring my better judgment, I went back on at the end of the summer and I can’t see that it has improved my life much at all.

When I slip into a depression slump I find myself scrolling through social media too much and when I scroll through social media too much I don’t do things I need to do or really want to do, like write my book or write a blog post or take photographs or – blah – clean the house. I just end up a depressed, moody slug sitting in front of my computer. I also end up angry, bitter and frightened for my childrens’ future.

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This past spring I did a social media detox and that’s when I started writing ‘A Story to Tell’ and decided to publish it as a weekly serial on here and then as a Kindle book. The success for me was simply how writing the story, and sharing it on my blog, was a distraction from social media, “news”, and from some challenging relationships in my life.

When I go on social media, I end up so wrapped up in the nonsense I read that I neglect the parts of my life that actually bring me joy — especially the more creative parts.

 

Social media is an addiction for many people. If you think it isn’t for you, do what I did last December and focus on how often you reach for your phone or computer to log into social media each day. Notice how many times you log into social media when you’re bored, lonely, procrastinating or avoiding real life (or certain people). I bet it’s more than you think because I know it was for me.

Another important aspect of learning how social media affects you is to notice how you feel after you sign off social media, or a news site.  Do you feel happier? I’m going to guess the majority of us can’t say that we feel anymore enlightened, elated, or hopeful about life after we’ve scrolled through a social media site. On the contrary, we probably feel like the world is on fire.

For creatives, it’s important to ask yourself if social media supports or hinders your creative flow. I’ve personally found that excessive social media use rarely supports creativity. In fact, for me, the constant digital noise I once engaged in silenced creativity altogether.

How can you think of new ideas, or use your imagination, when someone, or something, is constantly in your ear telling you what you think and who you are? More than once in the last two years, I have read about the need for all of us to seek more solitude and shut out the noise of the world around us.

Silence can facilitate daydreaming and daydreaming supports and strengthens our imagination. Imagination leads to creativity and then creativity leads to joy for even the most left-brained person out there. Creativity isn’t always about the arts . Creativity is also important for technical thinkers out there who need time create plans for projects or lists for completing whatever it is that helps them feel more organized. For many of us, organization helps us feel more grounded. Not having the time to create that organization because we are distracted by social media can leave us feeling discombobulated. 

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I have asked myself why there were so many great writers hundreds of years ago and less of them today? I have a feeling it is because hundreds of years ago the only thing people had time to do when the sun went down was think and daydream.

It’s not that social media is all evil. It connects us with new people, new ideas, and different worlds. It helps us reach people in a way we never could before. The evil part of social media is that we have allowed it, and what is shared on it, to distract us to the point that we have pushed aside activities that could actually further our society. Social media has no power over us that we don’t give it and many of us (me included) have given it awhole lot of power, let me tell you.

I don’t have any proof that inventions and innovations have decreased since the Internet and social media took over the world, and the exact opposite may be true in some fields, but I wonder if cures for cancer, or solutions to climate change, would have been found already if half of us weren’t scrolling social media; watching the circuses that are our congresses and parliaments; judging our neighbors; tsk-tsking the family member or acquaintance  in the middle of a divorce who has decided to write about it on social media; comparing ourselves to every other mother, writer, photographer, human being on the planet; and trying to change ourselves to fit some imaginary ‘normal’ in society.

Think about all the positive changes we could have made, not only in our own personal lives but in the world in general, if we weren’t staring at cat memes on our phones all day long. I have a feeling Satan knows that and has enjoyed dangling stupidity in front of us so we wander off the path we should have been taking all along.

All of this to say, I need another social media detox and you probably need it too. During my break last year and earlier this year, I offered some tips how to “survive” (or rather thrive) when you leave social media (even if only for 30-days); what I had time to do once I set social media aside; and how I felt when I logged back into Facebook after such a long break.

I know some of my blog readers aren’t even on social media (God bless you!) and some were on and promptly logged back off again. What’s your experience with social media? Do you find it stifles your creativity or productivity? How do you handle that? Are you better than me at balancing social media with your real life? If so, I’d love some pointers about how you do it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. The last time I wrote about social media (Facebook for most of us), I had some really fun and insightful comments. 

 

 

When I Googled how to delete my personal Facebook account permanently, many sites warned me how much I would regret it, but this weekend I finally pulled the plug on Facebook. In other words, I deleted my entire account (gasp!) and plummeted myself back into the dark ages. If you’re reading this on Facebook, it’s because I set up an account in another name and also added my husband as an administrator of my page so I can still share my blog posts but not operate a personal Facebook page.

Here is what one site said when I looked up the directions to delete my account: “Deleting your Facebook account is a serious decision, so make sure it’s something you really want to do. Whether you like it or not, social media is ingrained in society, and your Facebook profile can affect friendships, job prospects, and social opportunities. Remember that there are also ways to secure your Facebook privacy settings., if that’s your particular concern.”

The site really sounded like a Facebook propaganda site. They certainly wanted to be sure you knew how much your life is going to suck without Facebook. Still, there were other sites that encouraged me to pull the plug. One of them featured an article by a working professional photographer who deleted all his social media accounts to increase his creativity. He had been warned the move would sink his business financially but instead his business increased because he was actually networking the old fashioned way – in person and by handing out business cards.

One of the only things I will miss about Facebook is being able to harass my dad online and share photos with friends, but, to be honest, most of those friends stopped talking to me a long time ago, and maybe because social media has made us much less interested in actually interacting with people. Or maybe my friends stopped talking to me simply because I’m annoying. Whatever the reason, I don’t actually have any friends I talk to regularly anymore. I noticed a couple of them also started talking to me less when I wasn’t on social media as much as I used to be. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess?

The thing is, the idea behind Facebook is to keep people in touch with each other. Instead, I now have less friends than I did when I hopped on the site ten years ago. I have also lost friends because of Facebook. Those friends either didn’t appreciate my political or religious beliefs and told me so (in comments or messenger because, hello! No one actually talks on the phone or in-person anymore), got annoyed at something I said or did online (who knows, they just stopped talking to me), or I suppose thought anything they needed to know about me they could read in my wall and didn’t need to actually talk to me.

One relationship ended because of this blog after someone in my life actually read one of my posts (very rare), took offense to it and told everyone else about it and completely misrepresented what the post was about. And where did they see about the blog post? You know where. Otherwise, they never would have bothered to read my blog.

Only a couple of my friends from college speak to me. I can’t even recall the last time one of them spoke to me without me making contact first. Only one friend from high school now speaks to me, once in a while, and she doesn’t as often because she and her husband recently started their own business (and they’re really good at it and busy, which is awesome!).

I realize the two above paragraphs sound like whining and I don’t mean it to be. If you could hear my tone, you could hear that I am more of the mindset of “it’s simply the way it is”, instead of a lament. These are simply the realizations I came to while trying to argue with God that I still need Facebook. When these thoughts came to mind I felt almost as if I was being reminded that communication by writing really hasn’t strengthened any of the relationships I have had. If anything it has destroyed almost all of them.

All this is to say this: leaving Facebook really won’t affect me that much. While it did help me to pretend that I’m not as alone in life as I really am, the family and friends I once talked to on there no longer speak to me. What’s left are fear-mongering articles about a variety of issues and twenty thousand screaming political rants. My nerves need the break and I’m looking forward to it – even if it does mean feeling the crush of loneliness even more.

I read a recent article by someone who quit Facebook because it was making him feel lonely. He said his friends felt they were being real friends by liking and commenting but that they rarely saw him in person.

“They (my friends) had stopped doing these things because they truly believed they were playing their part in maintaining our friendship by “liking” a post, commenting on a post, tagging me in a post or worst of all just lurking around my posts knowing what I was doing but not even interacting with the posts. My “friends” believed they were still being good friends. That made me feel lonely. I longed for true human connection with these friends. I wanted authenticity. I wanted honesty. I wanted true friends, warts and all, bricks and mortar.”

His last paragraph is what I’ll leave you with because it is along the same lines of what I’ve been thinking and feeling. And it’s why I’m hoping I can find some real, lasting friendships in the future.

Nat Duncan writes:

“It may be morbid, but lately I’ve been imagining my funeral. A simple coffin (empty because I’ve left my body to science) with my friends all gathered around it, dressed in black, all holding a single red rose, and tearfully saying “I only just yesterday liked one of her posts” “oh I haven’t seen her in two years but I loved her Facebook rants” “I will miss commenting on her posts” “I met another Facebook friend through her” “I didn’t even know she was sick, I just saw she was still on Facebook” The curtain closes – and they all update their Facebook status (not to the intensity of Bowie’s passing but with some poignancy) to ensure their “friends” know that they are here, with me, being real friends.” – source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wasting too much time talking about Facebook and what’s on Facebook and what we saw on Facebook and oh my gosh blah, blah, blah Facebook

I can’t be the only one who is completely sick of talking about Facebook, thinking about what I read on Facebook, or wishing there was an IQ test before people are allowed to post on Facebook.

So yeah, here I am writing about Facebook again, but maybe that’s because I’m logging off Facebook for Lent. No, I don’t usually celebrate “Lent” in the strict sense of the word, but this year I am trying to focus more on relaxing, my relationship with God and simply detoxing my brain. And to do that I have deactivated my Facebook account for an entire – gulp – 40 days. (I do, however, have a business page that is being maintained by a “ghost account” simply for blog posts. I won’t really be checking it because not too many people see the page,  however, and I have no “friends” on the ghost account.)

Incidentally, the phrase “detoxing my brain” makes me think of sliding a toilet brush in and out of my ears and after reading the cesspool that is the current state of national news, I think that might be a good analogy. I’ve really been trying to avoid the news as I begin to detox, I really have, but almost every day I find myself peeking through my fingers, hoping something positive has happened, only to see it’s only gotten worse every, single day. It’s completely insane how crazy the national media is and I no longer know what is true or who to believe so I decided not to believe any of them. Part of my detox, therefore, will also be trying not to look at any news sites, which I have actually blocked on my phone.

Note I say “national media. My husband is a member of the small town news media, and I used to be, and that is a whole other “kettle of fish”, so to speak. Smalltown news is pretty tame and less prone to sensationalism, though some people are convinced that the behavior of the national media is trickling down to the local newspapers. They look for conspiracies even in the coverage of the school board meetings, as if any of the small town reporters have enough time or gumption to concoct stories slanted one way or another. Most small town reporters want to get in and get out of their meetings and go home on their meager salaries and eat some beans out of a can while binge-watching Netflix, since they can’t afford cable on their salary.

But I have digressed – as I so often do.

My brother and his wife have decided to completely delete their Facebook accounts after Lent, if not before. Adapting to a world without Facebook will be a challenge, but it’s needed, my brother, who will turn 50 in a few more months, says. Turning 50 has apparently caused him to reexamine his life and I’d rather he give up Facebook than dump his wife for a younger woman and buy a Harley during this phase. I’ll miss tagging him in all those memes about being the favorite child, but texting him to say so will do just as well.

I am torn between wanting to completely delete my account and keeping it to stay in contact with some friends and family, but honestly, most of those friends and family don’t actually speak to me, even on Facebook. Most likely I’ll decide to say good-bye to Facebook by the end of Lent. I highly doubt I will be missing much when I do and I might even have more time for other activities like I did when I took a break from the social media giant in December. The best thing about shutting my account down? Never writing another bloody blog post about Facebook and hopefully never talking about it again either.

Planning to take a Facebook break yourself? Here is a link to some tips I learned during my last Facebook break.