The night before Ash Wednesday I scarfed down my last scrolls through Facebook and hastily deleted the app on my phone. I rolled over in my covers that night and turned to my small night stand, back to back with Paul, and looked at my phone. I thought of all I would be missing over the next 40-ish days. . . FOMO's face smirking right at me.
It’s been a beautifully curious place for me—away from the noise. I've found more energy. I've read lots and done weird creative things, dancing (just because) in an empty YMCA studio and reading poetry in my spare time. But there's been yucky stuff too--facing little things where there's no jumping onto the happy buzz of Facebook for distraction. Some of the things that I’ve found are not easy to share because they come from a place of bare humility. Fully pulling away from Facebook has shown me just how much of a pull it had on me.
To be clear, I don't think Facebook is bad. I don't think social media is bad. Not at all. These are wonderful tools. Absolutely! But for reasons specific to my life circumstances, personality, and bad habits--I had really cornered myself into a place which was an arm's reach from unhappy when it came to my presence online.
Here are some of my thoughts. (Let me know in the com box if you can relate.)
+ Social media is a tasty cherry on top. It was never meant to be the cake. So if the majority of our connections with people are meaningful, fruitful, face-to-face goodness, a little time online connecting with friends and family does little harm. For me, though, I was letting it play the part of the cake and what an awful cake it had become.
+ I get to say how much is too much. It really doesn’t matter to me if anyone else says / suggests that X amount of scrolling through other people’s stories is perfectly normal or okay. How much other people are online has nothing to do with me--maybe even especially since I was the elementary school student who withdrew to sit and think on the sidelines and even now the adult who withdraws from an overwhelming party,no matter how absolutely crazy fun it is! As Amy Poehler would say, Good for her. Not for me.
+ I am weak. Learning balance is a messy process. Truth. Since signing off Facebook, I overgrammed on the Insta, deleted all the games on my phone only to download a new one weeks later, and joined Snap Chat even though that pretty much goes directly against why I signed off Facebook. I don’t know. I’m human. I’m messed up and distracted and want to be seen and loved … like, a lot.
+ This is equal parts magical and mysterious to me but. . . the best thing to come out of me being off Facebook was in my time with the people that I am (or should be) the closest to. Looking at my husband while he tells me about his day. Snuggling with Alistair when he wakes. Watching Thomas’s eyes get wide with stories. Laughing at Emerick’s goofy one man acts. The noise of everyone else’s life (online) was somehow making the picture of my life duller, dialed down. Even simple little experiences (since leaving FB) like family movie nights, talking to my brother on the phone while he cleaned up my niece’s puke, and laughing in a hot tub with my family felt truly rich—little bits of love and goodness right under my nose but I hadn’t been taking the time to savor.
+ I don’t want easy. I want to read thick books and finish paintings. I want to visit with friends at coffee shops, walk with my sisters, and take my family on little adventures. I realize being off Facebook for six weeks is not a big deal, but it has been enough for me to truly know that my attention had become splintered and my presence fractured. It was enough for me to see that (shocked to say this) I really was unhappy seeing so much surface and front stage of so many people’s lives. It was enough for me to wonder what else there is to challenge as an assumed status quo. Fiddling about on Facebook was often a quick fix to things that actually matter to me deeply but I hadn't been working deeply on and—well, I’m feeling it. There are some things that I want to do and be, and I need even more blank space to work out those things.
+ What it felt like? Freedom. Bliss. A little weird. But mostly I just felt FREE! (It makes me really want to give other things a 30 day go because I would have never thought that THIS is what it would feel like. I texted someone last week that I miss it 0%, and that is the 100% truth.)
+ Clearly, I’m not done with this yet. I wish I knew exactly what’s healthy. The only answer I have is this: less— MUCH less. I’m happier with less noise. I’m more present with my family. I need more of this. I don't know what I'll be doing once Easter is over. Maybe a little of Facebook. Maybe none at all for a while longer. I just don't know. But I'm happy to keep going down this path & experimenting a little, doing a little bit of discovery work along the way.
It's been a really wonderful Lent this year. This little giving up of something non-essential that definitely felt essential...it's been good.
I feel happier & a little more whole. And I want more of that.