I am currently in self-imposed Facebook exile. I hate this election. I’ve hated it since it started what feels like 4 years ago and I despise it now more than ever. I majored in political science in college but I hate politics and I cannot stand talking about it or having “friendly debates” with friends about the issues. I physically cannot stand it. My stomach ties itself in knots. Because let’s be honest, even the friendliest of debates between pals is really just people stating and restating their opinion over and over without any intention of ever changing their mind. It’s a masturbatory exercise in who can get the last word and I literally do not have the stomach for it.
So for probably the tenth time in so many months I’ve forced myself to step away from Facebook. I’ve deleted the app from my phone, signed out on the home computer, and turned off notifications. Why not just delete it all together? I ask myself the same question every time I take these breaks. At first my answer was always “Well Facebook is how people send out invites for events and keep in touch. I don’t want people to forget to invite me to things.” But honestly, that’s become less and less of a thing. There are, however, people I am only in touch with on Facebook who I don’t want to be disconnected from. People like my elementary school gym teacher who helped me survive grade school bullying and is a wonderful person I’ve recently reconnected with. And beyond that, every time I think about quitting Facebook for good, something comes around where being on Facebook is necessary or helpful like raising donations for my Cycle for Survival ride later this month or the Bliss Community which is a healthy lifestyle group started by Blissful Eats founder Nicole Culver.
And the photos! Oh, who will look after all the photos after I’ve gone?! I have photos on Facebook going back to college; ten years of photos exist there! I don’t know where all of those are in real life! Many of them were probably on my college laptop never to be heard from again. I’m a bit of a pack rat and where photos are concerned I’m definitely a hoarder of memories. So I can’t just deactivate my Facebook and abandon hundreds of memories. The horror!
So what’s a girl to do? My husband has never deleted his Facebook but has honestly barely touched it since our wedding two years ago. How does he do it?! Why does it have such a hold on me and not him?! Part of it is certainly that he doesn’t sit at a desk all day like I do. When a lull in work appears, I hop on Facebook to kill the time. My husband, by comparison is juggling a million different things from the time he gets to work until the minute he leaves. But also, we’ve become, I think, a society addicted to validation. We want to exist in an echo chamber or feedback loop where we receive constant praise about our fashion, travel, and food choices. We want to hear that our opinions are valid and shared, not challenged. We want everyone to see how cool we are but also say how cool we are so we can remain confident that we are, in fact, as cool as we think we are. In small doses, I think it’s relatively harmless. You’re proud of something and you want to show it off and that’s totally ok. But it can become insidious and more important and vital to your everyday existence than you realize fairly quickly and easily.
I, for one, spend way too much time on my phone. I’ve started filling my time with scrolling through Instagram or Facebook instead of doing the things I actually want to do like writing or reading, watching movies and catching up on TV shows. It feels shameful to admit how much time I spend on my phone and how often I check Facebook or Instagram. But it’s honest. So it is what it is and the good thing is I can change it. I downloaded a great app called Unplugged that encourages you to set your phone on airplane mode and starts a timer when you do. I find that however my brain operates, it responds well to situations like this. If the phone is on airplane mode, nothing is happening on it. It’s a black brick and my brain can forget about it complete instead of wondering what’s going on when I could be receiving notifications or whatever else. I also recommend checking out this article for putting Facebook at a distance in your life if you’re having trouble cutting the cord completely.
Are you addicted to social media? How do you break the habit?