People are depressed. I mean it, people. People all around me are depressed.
I can’t turn around without someone standing there or writing somewhere that they are in mourning. The people who are having family members dying, or announcing cancer or abuse is all around me these days. I don’t get why it seems to be happening more and more but it’s probably because I’m getting older. Maybe I was in a fog as a kid and don’t remember all the death and tragedy as much?
I don’t know.
Or maybe people simply tend to share more sadness than happiness and that’s why we are all in the gutter of attitudes some days. We need to share sadness and sadness will happen, it can’t be helped, so don’t get me wrong here.
My brother has been going on for a couple of weeks about he and his wife’s plan for deleting their social media. It’s a good thing but you would think it’s a religious experience for them with all the philosophical statements my brother makes. Or maybe he’s just dramatic (thank God I never am. Ha. Ha.)
My brother has been answering some who ask about his reason for kicking the big “fbook” to the curb, by saying he wants to “make the best of his remaining years.”
He turns 50 in June and in his world 50 is the new 80. But it seems to be where we all are these days (including me) – this impending sense of doom and negativity. We remind ourselves so often that “life is short” and “you never know WHEN YOU WILL DIE!!” in warnings that are supposed to be encouraging that we have forgotten to remind each other to simply live.
I get it. We only get one trip around the sun.
We all die.
Life is short.
That message has been drilled into my head a lot over the years and just in case I didn’t get it I lost three relatives in nine months and a handful of community members passed away as well.
Death is coming.
It’s around the bend.
The grim reaper stands at our door.
But not yet.
Being realistic about death is fine.
Being honest about it is important.
Grieving is important and talking about our grief is very important (so this is not meant as a scolding to those who are grieving), but for all that is good and holy stop reminding everyone they are on the path to death, finding ways to weave it into conversations.
About two years ago death loomed over me like a dark cloud. Test results and severe hypochondria coupled with a mental breakdown had made me decide I had blood cancer and there was no hope. Every day I thought of death and how it was coming and eventually I stopped living. My dog of 14-years died, my aunt’s health was not good, and my husband’s uncle passed away.
One day I was out in our yard trying to make a garden, though I didn’t know why because I was sure I wouldn’t be around the enjoy it. Suddenly I heard a voice within me say “Stop focusing on death and start focusing on living.”
The voice of God? I don’t know but I know I hadn’t been thinking any positive thoughts on my own for about three months at that point.
We can’t really live if all we do is think about how we are dying.
We need to remind people they are on the path of life and life is good much of the time. Maybe telling ourselves we are simply walking toward a new life in the after life is a better idea.
Soon spring will be here and flowers will bloom and birds will chirp and the sky will blue again.
Why don’t we all look toward that new life instead of the grave?
Some people probably even think you have died. You haven’t posted in a week and you’re not liking their posts to show them you still care about their thoughts (because this is the only way people communicate or feel validated anymore). They don’t see you in person because, well, you’re not online so they figure you might be depressed (and who wants to deal with depressed people? Yuck!) or sick or mad about something and they don’t want to know about any of that stuff.
If they do see you in person they tell you how much they love the photos of your kids, which you stopped posting several months ago, and then stare awkwardly at you because, since you no longer post status updates, they don’t know what is really happening in your life. I mean, what if it is bad? Then they’ll feel bad they didn’t know. And what if it is good? Either way they’ll be trapped listening to you share about your life without the ability for them to simply click like and scroll by you so they can quickly move on to the meme with the kitten clinging to a limb (aaaawww! Kitties!)
I thought leaving Facebook back in December would make in-person interactions with friends become more of an occurrence and when they did happen it would be more meaningful. Such was not the case and I know it will not be the case again when I walk away from Facebook again in March.
I accidentally restricted my posts from someone even before I left Facebook and they told me they had no idea what was going on in my life because they couldn’t see my status updates. They told me this on messenger. Because apparently picking up the phone would have been way too mentally taxing. Can you imagine if they had had to speak to me in person? Why I just shudder to think of the horrors that might have entailed. Actual human interaction? Ew.
Thankfully they sent an apology for their actions via messenger to a family member of mine. I feel much better now, knowing they still don’t care enough to pick up the phone or actually speak to me about what’s actually happening in my life, but hey, at least they can talk to a relative about me – via text.
So, yes, I went back to Facebook after my break from it in December and instead of being excited and feeling refreshed to handle it all again I almost immediately felt annoyed. The break was a wake-up call to me to how vapid and ridiculous Facebook is.
The first week or so I was back on I watched someone rant about people complaining about the walk to their car in the morning being cold. People had no right to complain about how cold it was to walk to their cars because by doing so they were clearly spitting in the face of every farmer in the world that has to go out at 4 a.m. to milk the cows in such awful cold. I wasn’t sure of the logic behind this post but I guess the poster wanted us to be sure that we remembered that farmers are suffering in the arctic cold. In other words all they had to write was: “Remember that farmers have to go out in this cold, no matter what. They don’t have a choice. Think of them and say a prayer.” That was way easier than the virtual smackdown that was clearly unnecessary but is a common occurrence on Facebook, where someone is always more important than someone else (and don’t you forget it because if you do they’ll be sure to remind you in a passive aggressive meme.)
Then there were the passive-aggressive, leading questions.
“Does anyone know why school is even closed today?”
The person could have easily written: “It’s stupid that school is closed today” because that was obviously their opinion in the first place or they wouldn’t have added “EVEN” to their question. The leading questions dripping in sarcasm are always fun to read – over and over and over again throughout our feeds.
And, really, that’s what my disdain for Facebook comes down to these days. Ninety-eight percent of what is there is unnecessary. I’m not only preaching to other people here. I’m preaching to me too. Almost everything I have posted there in the last ten years (my word! Ten years?!) has been much of the same. Looking back at my posts over the years is like looking at my journals from seventh grade. It’s definitely cringe-worthy; like mental fingernails on the chalkboard of my immature past. I would definitely say the site has brought out the worst in me, the grumpy, judgmental and complaining person I used to keep locked in my private, tangible journal. For many of us Facebook has made us think complaining about everything under the sun should be a normal part of our life when, newsflash, it shouldn’t.
Choosing to no longer log on to Facebook every day or maybe even every week has been a decision I have felt I’ve needed to make for a long time. I can’t imagine how much further in life I’d be if I had never logged on to the site in the first place, all those years ago. It will be interesting to see where life will take me as I plan to log out and leave it behind for a long while, if not for good.
For now the breaks from it have taken me behind the scenes of the real-life walking dead (in some ways) and out back into the land of living, where I am able to seek out new friends who can still talk to me even if I don’t post for everyone to see which emotion I’m feeling at any given moment.
When bloggers and others talk about a social media break let’s be honest, we know they (we) are talking about Facebook. As far as social media goes, Facebook is the biggest time suck for most people. Not only that but Facebook has more information on you than anyone else and their tentacles reach into so many facets of the Internet, disconnecting from them for a while, or all together, is probably a pretty good idea.
You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t spend that much time on Facebook” and while it may be true that you don’t spend a large, continuous block of time there I have a feeling you spend much more than you think. In the same way someone who wants to lose weight benefits from keeping a food diary, someone who is considering a break from social media should write down each time they log on to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube.
I bet many of you would be shocked, or at least surprised, at how often you check those sites throughout the day. You may check first thing in the morning, at lunch, while waiting in line, while waiting at a doctor’s office, while waiting anywhere you have to wait more than ten seconds, throughout your evening and before falling asleep. I would bet that there are many times you intend to log on to the site only a few moments but before you know it an hour or two or more has passed and your children are wandering to the neighbors to ask if the neighbor will cook them dinner because you’ve been swallowed by the internet.
In December I started a Facebook detox after realizing how addicted I’d become to social media. It was keeping me from enjoying life and accomplishing tasks. It was actually Facebook’s own fault that I left the site for 30-days. They sent me a video featuring various images as a celebration of the fact I had been on Facebook for close to 12 years. Twelve, time sucking, anxiety-inducing, life-wasting years, with some chances for staying connected to faraway friends and family (the only positive I could think of).
The realization of how much time I had wasted staring and scrolling, comparing and crying over things I had read or watched there hit me hard and all I could think was “how much further would I be in life without this stupid site?”
I feel almost embarrassed to admit that the detox was difficult and tested my will-power, showing me how much Facebook and it’s validation-psychology actually had a hold over me. I would have been more embarrassed if I hadn’t known there were thousands more who felt like me based on the fact that an internet search yielded page after page of links either focusing on the author’s own decision to detox or an article showing you how to do your own detox.
I’m not sure why I feel the need to offer yet another blog post offering advice about how to prepare for and succeed with a detox from social media but since all our experiences are unique I’ll offer the plan of action that worked best for me.
Write down how you plan to fill your time while you’re on the break. Maybe I’m the only one that over thinks and overly prepares (at least for some things) but list ideas of what you will do during the free time you’ll have now that you’re not logging on to social media. List things like “read that book I bought two years ago and never read,” or “stain the deck,” or “organize the bedroom closet.” Include things in the list you know you’ve wanted to accomplish but haven’t because you’ve let your brain take a walk around the block while scrolling on your phone.
Make a list of hobbies or interests you have been wanting to explore more. When you take a break from social media you’ll suddenly discover you have more free time, almost too much free time. Now that you have more free time you can explore hobbies you either used to do or always wanted to do. For me, I’ve started to learn more about cooking, delved back into sketching, and am considering archery. I’m kidding about the archery. I have no interest in that. I’m actually focusing on low-impact workouts versus picking up a bow and arrow. You never know where exploring a new hobby will lead you either; maybe even a new career.
Charge up your Kindle, or e-reader, or get a stack of actual, physical books together. Reading is an amazing way to escape from the world and your stress. I highly recommend something in the fiction genre to truly distract you from the real-life drama around us. Right now I’m reading the first in a series about a British aristocrat and her “lady in waiting” who investigate mysteries together. I’m not exactly sure when the stories take place but it seems to be the 20s or 30s. The first book is titled “A Quiet Life in the Country: A Lady Hardcastle Mystery.” by TE Kinsey. (Edited to add: I wouldn’t recommend book two. It is just dragging on and on and on. It’s a bit like being tortured in with David Copperfield in high school at this point. I don’t recommend continuing the series.)
4. Make a list of tasks you haven’t got to that you know you would complete if you put away the distractions of social media. For me this included updating my stock portfolios, updating this blog, updating my online photography portfolio, keeping track of what I’m eating, and cleaning my closet out. Guess which ones I still haven’t tackled, even with the social media break?
5. Call friends and ask if they want to actually meet in person. That’s right. People really can still meet in person and have face-to-face conversations. Try it while you’re on your detox and enjoy remembering the old days of actual human interaction. Personally, this has been a bit of a failure for me as my friends are too busy to meet in person right now in their lives, but I’ll keep trying. Their life has to slow down at some point, right? Right?!
Seriously, I’m sure we will get together in person soon. And even if you don’t meet up with friends, go out and talk to actual people. Visit a museum, visit a local coffee shop and smile at people – look at the world around you and notice some things you didn’t notice before because your head was down, looking at your phone or device. Yes, as an introvert, this particular advice is hard for me to follow myself, but I’m working on it. One little step at a time, okay? Be patient with me.
6. Find a good documentary to watch and learn more about the world. While I don’t recommend trading one addiction for another, finding a good documentary or Netflix series that teaches you about another part of the world or about those who lead a different life than you is an excellent way to expand your mind. Learning about life somewhere else doesn’t always happen on social media where we mainly associate with people we know or who are interested in the same things we are. I’ve been watching a few of these types of documentaries and two I recommend happen to be related to food.
In Search of Israeli Food is about the food of Israel and it also touches on the different cultures there and the conflicts between the Israeli’s and Palestinians. It follows the journey of Michael Solomonov an award-winning American chef who was born in Israel. He travels to Israel and meets various chefs there and also reflects on his own childhood, which was affected by the death of his brother, killed by Palestinians along the border.
Another is called Theatre of Life and it is about Massimo Bottura, the top chef in the world, who helped open missions in Italy feeding the poor with the waste from restaurants and supermarkets and cooked by world renowned chefs. It not only shares the story of the chefs but the stories for the people who come to the centers because of their life situations.
Some other suggestions on what to do during your break (a few are repeats from above):
Go for a hike or just a walk
Start an exercise program
Take up a hobby
Clean out your closets
Declutter your house
Order and frame all photos stuck on your hard drive
Make a photo book full of all the photos still stuck on your hard drive
Paint a room in your house that you hate the color of
Start volunteering at local nursing homes.
Call friends you haven’t talked to in a long time
Visit local museums
take an online class (many universities offer them for free
So, the bottom line is this: you will be fine if you detox yourself from social media. In fact, you might have more of a life if you put the phone down, shut off the computer and simply walk away from it all for a while, or for good.
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.