Every morning, unless I have something pressing and immediate to do when I hit my desk, I open my browser and check the headlines of some of my favorite websites: HelloGiggles.com, Jezebel, Reuters, Huffington Post, and sometimes whatever is on Google/ Local news.
Mostly, the news I reads infuriates me, and I descend into an inward spiral of thought of, “Why is this still happening?” “This is so senseless,” and “Have we learned nothing.”
This line of thought is now followed swiftly by: “Time to stop reading.”
One of the things I hear a lot from friends these days is how they need to filter the information they’re constantly receiving. In the age of social media, we are constantly overloading ourselves with content- humor, news, tragedy; we can very easily burn ourselves out after 5 minutes of reading a news feed.
I started to notice this about myself a few months ago- I would be constantly logged on and attached to my Facebook page, (which is where I received most of my daily news) seeking content, reacting to it, posting, re-posting, inviting people to add their own energies to what it was I was reading/ experiencing/ seeing. And after a while, I just found it all exhausting. And I found that there was a lack of sincerity in me toward my Facebook connections: I’m seeing your life, feeling your pain, your joy, but I’m not directly involved. I’m removed from it but still experiencing it.
This is so freaking weird.
So I deleted my Facebook.
And now, each morning, I still open my usual news tabs and see what’s going on. And here’s how I approach news / media : If I’m reading something upsetting that pretty much drowns my faith in humanity, I follow it up with something uplifting that restores my faith in humanity.
In the last few months of using Facebook, I started to feel and realize I was exhausted – reading through my news feed and reacting to everything I was seeing and reading, internalizing it, thinking about it, was becoming too much. I began to pull back – logging out of the app on my phone, turning off notifications, not logging on while at work, and slowly began to really question what I was posting and putting out there – thinking of the 104 individual connections I had, and imagining what their reaction was to my page. (* Note: Yes, 104, or 109 I think was my final number of friends before I deleted my account. I was always a fan of the Facebook clean out, and closing connections that were no longer viable).
Finally, one night, I furiously searched the control panels for the delete button. I didn’t want this anymore. I didn’t want to be accessible to people in this distant, inauthentic way. If one more person told me they “saw it on Facebook” I was going to lose my mind.
I craved human interaction, face – to- face (or a handwritten letter!) not Facebook.
I had prided myself for so long about being okay about being alone; but I wasn’t ever really alone. I had all these connections on this device in my pocket.
I wanted to make memories with my friends that didn’t involve check ins and posting status updates every time we went to the movies or out to dinner. I also wanted to focus on the people in front of me, not what my friends on Facebook were doing. Quality, not Quantity was my goal.
I wanted to waste less time getting sucked into looking at other people’s lives and spend more time creating the life I want to live. You know, the way people have been doing it for centuries, before social media.
I don’t want my life to ever resemble this:
Finally, I successfully located the delete page (not the Deactivate page, the DELETE page). I was finally ready to move on, and I needed to act on it. So I filled out the form, scheduled for deletion, logged out and haven’t looked back.
Now, let’s be real – I’m no social media pariah. I still have Instagram (yes, I know, owned by Facebook: I never said I was perfect) and I still have my Twitter, Pinterest, and clearly, my WordPress. But I utilize my social media in a different way. I moderate myself with it ; my news feed is comprised of people I want to hear from and share my journey with, and some accounts that I can rely on for a good solid laugh. Do I sometimes still get sucked into the time-wasting-succbus that is the interwebz? Of course. But are the times that it happens getting shorter? Absolutely.
I’m moving into my first place in a few weeks (omg, #adulting!) and my current thought process is to not install internet immediately. I have book shelves full of books. The two shows I normally watch are both having their season finales this week and I won’t need cable until the fall when they start back up again. As an experiment, I want to see how long I can live without Internet and cable in the apartment. Who knows, perhaps I’ll actually read the entire Outlander series before Season 2 premieres. I have a GoodReads list 150 books deep of books I want to read. Perhaps now will be the time to do it.
My 29th birthday passed recently, and I just feel myself narrowing down my list of priorities. It’s been a few months of taking stock of where I’ve been (never forgetting) and realizing where I want to go. Since going off Facebook, I feel I bring more to my relationships (friends, colleagues, family, etc) because I’m not as distracted. Not to mention productivity at work is at an all time high.
I realize how much more there is to share with people that has nothing to do with what I saw on Facebook. I feel a more sincere interest in my friends and their lives by engaging them off of social media. Not everything has to be a broadcast.
Also- I came to realize just how much Facebook redefined the word “friend.” I realized going off Facebook how many people were actually acquaintances (which is perfectly fine!) and who my true and close friends really were. It also made me realize that perhaps there were people I wouldn’t have actively chosen to be friends with, if not for the mutual friend connection. There were times I wouldn’t accept friend requests because frankly, I met you once and don’t feel obligated to share my life with you. Its as if social media has created a massive platform of over sharing where people can just watch what you post, draw their inferences and pop you into a box/cookie mold and then move on to the next post.
And I no longer wanted any part of it. To quote Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.”
I have so much more to offer people than articles I find interesting or pictures I find funny on a social media site.
I get more joy out of exclaiming about an article I read over glasses of wine with a friend than I do posting it to their “wall.” And thanks to texting and email, I can still share things when someone asks me to send it to them. It has become less about shoving media and news into people’s faces and more about discussion and engaging communication. ( Not to mention the passive aggressive status updates that I will never miss).
This is just my personal journey, but since getting off Facebook, I feel like I’ve gotten a life.
If you feel the same, similar, or differently, feel free to share it in the comments!