I have been on Facebook since 2008. The pic above is how I looked back then. It has been a non-stop eight years until yesterday, February 28, 2017. Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. Lent is the forty-day period before Good Friday and Resurrection weekend (Easter) where Christians (primarily Catholic) give something up to focus on God. People choose all types of things to give up: food, alcohol, cigarettes, soda, coffee, or chocolate. Whatever your vice in life is, you make a conscious choice to give it up for these 40 days. I equate it to a New Year’s resolution…with a lot more punishment involved.
Giving up something for Lent, to me, is a form of punishment. You are declaring to yourself and your body, I am going to go cold-turkey without (Fill In the Blank) in 3-2-1…. While that is OK in some respects, it is not necessarily wise. Even doctors advise you to taper off gradually from meds and habits that may have a physical response if abruptly shut down. Now I realize that social media is not meds, but the chemical response that social media gratification produces in the body has the same consequences if significantly reduced or removed without a tapering off period. Well, I did all of the above without tapering off with Facebook. I am going without Facebook for Lent. I have not given up Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn because I choose to remain informed by, yet detached from, social media. Why Facebook (FB) and not the rest? Why now? FB is my first social media account. It is where I have the most friends, with the most content. It is the platform for my diatribes and claps-back at people. I have all of my other social media accounts to feed into FB. I have my community there. Its…well, its home.
Why now? Now is good because it coincides with Lent. That creates a goal with dates of achievement. A goal without dates is just a dream. The dates of Lent create a parameter for my brain. So in preparation for leaving FB, my brain was telling the rest of my body.. .”Don’t panic! It is only for 40 days.” Without this parameter, anxiety and stress would set in, others parts of your mind (the self-gratifying side that loves to see the number of responses that you have to the items that you posted) would start the fight or flight language; you can’t do it…it’s Too much, what about your friends (Note the TLC reference)? What about your hashtags (the pleading verges on the ridiculous), what about the political rants (will not miss those at least I don’t think so), what about…. But parameters set up the boundaries.
Boundaries help to define your life and regulate time. And with FB inside my boundaries, it was overtaking my life to a certain extent. It had become my life, from a social media perspective. I do enjoy seeing and hearing about what’s happening with everyone (thanks for the commentary on the Grammys and the Oscars,) but from a time perspective, it was encroaching on my day. The time reference, of course, is in retrospect as it has only been 12 hours since deletion and 8 of those I have been asleep. It is almost paralyzing.
When you make a decision to remove something or someone from your life, the first few hours and days, you are extremely cognizant of it not being there. You begin to see how much it was a part of your everyday existence. FB has been just a reach away for so long. Nightly, on the side table for when my alarm goes off, or I can’t sleep…the red numbers beckon me. Early morning before I shower, scrolling just to play catch-up. I have friends in other time zones. When I drop the kids off at school, I do just a quick check because I may need to respond. Intermittently during work, when I am in the restroom, during my lunch break, as I wait in line to order food. It is incessant.
This morning was different. Last night, after my final post on FB I deleted the app from my phone. And I second-guessed myself through the entire process. I was in full panic-mode. I truly didn’t know if I could do it. The one saving grace was merely this…”I had made a promise to myself and declared to my FB world and. It SHALL BE DONE”. That is a great thing about putting things out in the universe; it makes you accountable. You are responsible for yourself first and the veracity of your words. Second, when you give voice to your plans, you enlist the universe and God (Insert your deity as necessary) into helping accomplish that which you have spoken. The power of your words is astounding, whether for good or evil. It is so important to be mindful about what we are speaking over ourselves and others. For Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21 (KJV). However, back to the point.
This morning was different. My routine was the same, however, instead of spending 20 minutes scrolling, posting, and replying, I scrolled quickly through Twitter (you may see some retweets), and I was into the rest of my daily routine. It was invigorating. I had redeemed the time and was mentally preparing for my day ahead. I had gained focus!
The point I am making is this: it is easy to lament what you give up, however, what you learn or create as a result may be well worth the loss that you experience. I am still having withdrawals and trying to discover what other productive things can be done instead of lamenting the lack of scrolling. And here is a note of caution: I will not replace one questionable habit/addiction with ANOTHER!!! But know this; the possibilities are endless! Option # 1 “Back to Blogging!” That’s a good, positive habit to have.