Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 8: What I Learned From All Of This

At noon today marked one week of not using Facebook and other social you might be shocked to learn that later in the afternoon today I actually logged into Facebook. Before you gasp with horror and start pointing fingers yelling "relapse!", please hear me out. My grandmother died earlier this week. (Don't you feel bad now?) The obituary was published online in the Boston Globe today and I logged into Facebook today to share the link. Why? Because I figured it would be much easier than emailing the link to individual people who kept asking me when the services were taking place. But when I logged into Facebook today a funny thing happened: I saw I had 33 new notifications, 1 new private message, and there was tons of stuff on my newsfeed to read....and what did I do? I sighed a big long sigh and then I logged out. I didn't even end up posting the link to the obituary. I was online for about a minute and Facebook actually seemed...exhausting to me. Instead of feeling titillated by all of the new things to read online, I felt overwhelmed. If this were a week ago I would have easily spent an hour on Facebook reading through all of the new notifications, mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed, posting things that I thought were clever or interesting. But today I didn't have it in me. I took one look at Facebook and it felt like a heavy burden I just didn't want to carry. So I logged out. 

This is the part where I talk about the moral of this whole social media detox. I am not saying Facebook is evil. Like anything in this world, if used sparingly and responsibly, it can be fun. But when it becomes a huge focus in your life (or even a distraction), then it becomes a problem. Everything in moderation! If you are reading this blog right now and thinking to yourself, "But I can stop any time I want, I just don't want to!" then this message is for you: put down your phone, shut down your laptop, log out of Facebook and/or Twitter, give yourself a break. Start with 24 hours and see how you feel. When I started this journey a week ago I was appalled at how difficult the first 24 hours were. I was THAT dependent on social media! How pathetically sad. But the more time I spent off of social media this past week, the more I enjoyed time with the people I was with. I also realized some things about myself - mainly that I was using social media to escape from stress and loneliness. Not that that is a terrible thing, people do it all the time - but Facebook loitering as a coping mechanism is not really the healthiest idea. Plus I was getting the reputation of being an "over-poster" and was beginning to annoy my friends with my constant posting on Facebook. Nobody wants to be the annoying friend on Facebook. If you are now thinking to yourself that you don't know what I am talking might be that annoying friend on Facebook. You might want to reflect on this.

I have already allowed myself back on Twitter and Instagram since I no longer feel like I am in danger of transferring my social media addiction to these other sites. And starting tomorrow I am allowing myself back onto Facebook too. I am going to set a limit on my access to Facebook. Going to start by allowing myself to log in once a day and set my time limit to fifteen minutes at a time. Thanks to my detox this past week, I now feel confident that I can abide by these new restrictions without any problem. In fact, I don't feel the urge to log in at all anymore. I am not saying I am ready to delete my Facebook account, but I anticipate I will be spending a lot less time online going forward...I think I am now a slightly better person and probably a better Facebook friend overall by not obsessively logging in and posting anymore. I challenge anyone who logs into Facebook or Twitter more than once a day or posts on Facebook or Twitter more than once a day to try staying offline for a significant period of time. You'll thank me for it.