Does anyone want to join me for a social media detox?

I need an intervention, folks.

I’m addicted to reading stupid and controversial things on Facebook and it’s making me physically ill.

I deleted my account last year and it was awesome but I added it back because I was in a homeschooling group that made all their announcements about upcoming events there. Now my son is connected to a friend through messenger kids and if I delete the account he’ll lose that connection.

So I want to do another detox. Even for a week but I would love to do a month.

Anyone want to join me? This would be for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and if you need to log on for a group you run or to check on an emergency in your area, that doesn’t “count against” your break. I’m adding news sites to my detox as well since I think the national media orchestrates a lot of the drama of the world today.

Let me know if you’re interested. I’m going to start mine today and plan on a week, with the ultimate goal being a month. I have done this before and made a list of things I can do otherwise to distract myself. Should I fail, though, please don’t be too hard on me. It’s easy to want to be in the know but right now – I think I’d rather not know. You know?! 😂

Creatively Thinking: Too much social media kills creativity

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. 

 

 

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.

Logged back on Facebook. Experienced full body shudder. Logged back off.

After 30-days of Facebook detox I logged back on this past week and almost immediately regretted it.

From someone calling someone else they disagreed with a Nazi to fear-mongering posts about health issues my heart was pounding within a few minutes and I logged back off again and reached for my Teddy Bear.

Facebook has become a landmine of stress for this anxiety-ridden soul, which may be something I need to seek out a therapist for, or it may be simply a sign I need to stay off Facebook as much as possible.

The odd thing is that I don’t even follow any controversial people or news pages so the fact every day people are now flipping out on each other over the simplest of things seems to be a sign that we’ve lost respect and decorum. Obviously this has been happening for a long time but nowhere is it more evident than in social media where people forget there are real people behind the computer or smartphone.

This latest incident involved a thyroid expert I follow who had been featured on a show people didn’t appreciate. She wasn’t exactly called a Nazi but she was told the views of the people were Nazi views, which makes me realize that this far out from World War II some people need to read some history and remind themselves what a Nazi actually is.

Since I haven’t yet seen this particular organization call for the extermination of all Jews, but in fact supports them in many ways, I don’t see how they received the Nazi label, other than this is what certain groups seem to call people now when they don’t agree with them.

Well, anyhoo, based on of the idiocy that is modern discourse and the tendency for everyone to be offended by everything, I’ve decided Facebook may be a once a month thing where I check in on some friends and family but then log back off. My blog posts and photos on Instagram are automatically shared to the platform and luckily don’t require me to log into my timeline.

If you’re going to stay on Facebook and want to avoid stress, I highly recommend avoiding scrolling your timeline and instead visit the individual pages of friends or family members. That way you can avoid being slapped in the face by bizarre articles about girls who think they are boys because a therapist told them they were, people who think anyone who wears black shoes are racist, and politicians calling each other Nazis and immoral while they all conducting themselves in immoral ways.

You can also avoid headlines like “three foods to avoid in 2019” and “What you’re eating/wearing/drinking/thinking may give you cancer” and “New test will determine what day you’ll die” and the ever popular “The end of the world is near. Read here for the signs of the end times” (save yourself some trouble with that one and see the headlines and article topics above for those signs).

Bottom line? If you don’t have to use Facebook, avoid it. Go out and experience life. Take a walk, read a book, study God’s word, watch a comedy, write a silly blog post or two about Facebook or notice you have children and play a game or two with them.

You’ll be better off for it.

I know I have been.

What I have time to do now that I’m off Facebook

A couple of weeks ago I explained I’m in the midst of a 30-day Facebook detox or break, whichever you like to call it. I like the term detox because it does feel like I’m flushing some toxic thoughts and feelings out by restricting my Facebook access.

My ramblings about this break aren’t meant to convince anyone that Facebook or social media is evil, because while I feel it can be, I don’t feel it always is. Nor am I saying I’m better than someone who decides to be on Facebook on a regular basis.

People can connect with each other in many positive ways through Facebook, share images of grandchildren with grandparents, sometimes calmly share new ideas (emphasis on sometimes), and connect with people who have shared interests. These are all good things.

What isn’t good is how Facebook is set up to addict you to the constant need to never be left out and to feel you are loved simply because your notification bell made a little ringy-dingy (yes, I did just say that in Lily Tomlin’s voice. Yes, I am old enough to remember her doing those skits and if you’re not, do yourself a favor and look it up on YouTube, which can also be a time suck, so beware!)

I feel bad that last week I made my list of what I’ve learned so far with this break so negative, which is why I thought I’d share some of the positive aspects of signing off Facebook for 30 days. These are not listed in any particular order of importance.

1) I have had time to actually be bored and think. Yes, being bored, as I’ve mentioned before, is a good thing. When we give ourselves time to be bored we not only feel less rushed internally, but we open ourselves up to ideas – creative and otherwise.

2) I have more time to explore my passions and interests. I’m interested in photography, as you know, but I’m also interested in art and cooking. I’m finding more time for exploring cooking, but haven’t really sat down to get back into art like I want to, so that’s something I will be working on as this break continues (and hopefully beyond).

3) I have more time to gain knowledge or relaxation through books. I’ve been able to dive into books that make me think and books that don’t require me to think too much. I’ve been enjoying working my way through the latest Mitford books by Jan Karon and then for some deeper reading I’m reading about how our mind works via Dr. Caroline Leaf’s books “Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health,” and “Think and Eat Yourself Smart: A Neuroscienctific Approach to a Sharper Mind and Healthier Life.” I’m also reading “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” by Mireille Guiliano which I wrote about on my health blog which you can find HERE.

4) I have time to actually think about what I am eating. Both Leaf and Guiliano put emphasis on slowing down while choosing what you will eat and also while you eat. Leaf says our bodies take in nutrients better if we think about what we are eating and have a relaxed, positive attitude while eating. Standing up to eat, watching TV while we eat, talking on the phone or rushing around are all no-no’s to Guiliano and Leaf.

5) I have had time to cook some food ahead of time and freeze it to be able to pull out quickly on busy days so I don’t make bad food choices. This goes along with my effort to get healthier. I’ve made a few batches of homemade applesauce, froze some sweet peppers and some kale and also marinated some chicken in olive oil, sea salt, balsamic vinegar and garlic salt and froze that to pull out one day for dinner.

6) I have time to listen to podcasts and sermons. I enjoy listening to podcasts while I cook and I was able to do this some even when I was goofing off on Facebook but now I’m doing it even more. I mainly listen to Christian podcasts like Joseph Prince and Elevation Church. For humor I listen to The Skit Guys and for psychology I listen to Dr. Leaf (and then I spend the rest of the day talking to everyone in a South African accent and they answer me by asking me to stop talking to them in a South African accent.)

7) Time to exercise. That’s right. I’m actually exercising. Mainly just “Walking At Home” with Way-Too-Perky-Leslie Sansone. If you haven’t seen Leslie before she leads an aerobic type program of working out that mainly involves walking in place with some other movements thrown in. I like this workout in all seasons because I can actually burn some calories. If I try to walk with my children outside we have to stop like 500 times to look at bugs or see a dog or point at birds or tie our shoes or pick up leaves or wait for someone to catch up or … well, you get my drift.

I’ll list additional benefits to this break in future posts.

Things I still need to get better at, despite the Facebook break: folding the laundry faster, cleaning the kitchen after I cook, sorting through my closet and getting rid of old clothes I don’t wear anymore, consistently exercising, reading the Bible, and pondering my place in this world (which I don’t do because it sends me scurrying down the rabbit hole of thinking about how far off course my life seems from where I thought it would be by now.)

The bottom line is that so far I’m actually enjoying my time off Facebook. I’m missing knowing what’s going on with some people, but I can always catch up with them later and even call them to find out how they are.

Gasp!

I know!

Actually call someone?! Crazy!

At this point, I can’t imagine spending as much time on Facebook as I once did, even when I start signing in regularly again.

So, how about you? If you haven’t thought about a full-on, long Facebook detox, have you thought about reducing your time on it to accomplish some goals?

 

Why I briefly broke my 30-day Facebook detox (and no, it wasn’t to vent about a fast food restaurant.)

I’ll confess!

Turn off the interrogation lights!

This week I logged on to Facebook, briefly breaking my 30-day detox.

I know.

I’m a total fraud.

But, wait!

Let me explain.

Here is how it all started: without logging onto Facebook, I looked at the Today Show Parenting Team’s Facebook page this week, out of curiosity, and discovered one of my posts I had submitted on the community, had been shared. It had 38 comments and 240 shares.

The post, entitled “A Pregnancy Loss is A Loss No Matter How Small” was about my early pregnancy loss, which was caused by a blighted ovum. The post focused on the feeling by some women that they don’t feel they have a right to mourn an early pregnancy loss. In  reality they do, because that pregnancy, no matter how brief, represented their idea of what was to be. And because that pregnancy was the start of a life that ended too soon.

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Some of the comments on the post were so heartbreaking that I wanted to show the grieving mothers support so I hesitantly broke my Facebook detox simply to try to offer them some words of comfort. A couple days later I checked on the post to see if any other women had commented and discovered my post had also been shared on the Today Show’s main Facebook page and there were now 408 comments, 2,652 shares and over 11,000 reactions. I was flabbergasted and knew I couldn’t comment to all those women so I just read most of the comments and cried at how many of them had been told they had no right to mourn such early losses.

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I just couldn’t imagine not offering some words of comments to these hurting moms, especially one who had lost a baby only a couple of days before she commented. She had been 32-weeks along. My daughter, my rainbow baby, was born at 37 weeks. I can’t imagine being so close to full term and losing a child. I have at least two friends who have lost children later in the pregnancy and it breaks my heart to think of the pain they suffered during that time. It breaks my heart even further to imagine they may be afraid to talk about those losses because we live in a society where miscarriages can be so easily dismissed, especially if the loss is early in the pregnancy.

I want those women to be able to share their feelings. I know I blogged about my feelings here and under the Today Show’s Parenting Team challenge to share about a pregnancy loss, but the whole situation is still difficult to talk about.

There was a lot going on in our family during that time in addition to the loss. It was a whirlwind of emotions and confusion and rejection and part of me shut down after the miscarriage. There was some shame mixed in because the pregnancy came during a marriage trial.I worried some might think the pregnancy came to try to save the marriage when that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Even now I feel myself cringing inside as my fingers hit the keyboard. Despite having a personal blog, I’m not a person who thrives on sharing intimate thoughts or feelings, even if I think the sharing might help bring comfort to someone else.

What I hope the post the Today Show shared will do is help grieving moms have the courage to speak about how their pregnancy loss made them feel and ultimately understand they are not alone.

The 30-day Facebook detox challenge: Day 10

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.

photo by Lisa R. Howeler (available at Lightstock.com).

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.