The last twenty-nine days I haven’t used Facebook. And yes I am counting!! I realised one night that I was too addicted to my phone. I used social media as a way to escape, not by posting anything, but by going there when I wanted to sulk and not face the conflict, hard times, or responsibilities in front of me. I decided I needed a break. In books that help people go sugar-free, an admirable but personally unattempted exercise, they tell the readers to go without any sugar for a month, even fruit. It resets your tastebuds. Once the month is up, you slowly reintroduce yourself to unprocessed sugars. I wanted to take a similar kind of approach with social media for a whole thirty-one days. I decided to keep text and messenger, even though I do use them as a cop-out too, because you know, baby steps.
It has been an interesting experience! The weekend I started, I talked to a friend about it and she shared how sometimes she goes on TV-free weeks because she realises she just spent two hours in front of the screen instead of the original thirty minutes she planned. When I asked her how she found it, she said that it was fine, until she ran out of things to do. I found that relatable. The first week was crazily busy and I hardly had any twiddling my thumbs moments that I normally would have spent on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. After that first six or seven days, however, I started to notice that I would normally be on Facebook now, so what was I going to do instead?! (Answer: read books, watch youtube videos, play the piano, converse with friends, be on time for stuff. I really quite like these things.)
Then there were the withdrawal symptoms. If it wasn’t so trivial and hilarious, it could be embarrassing. Actually, it wasn’t embarrassing because I am convinced that a large majority of social-media users would and do experience a similar feeling when deprived of their accounts. It is partially what made me hesitant or reluctant to start the challenge before now. I knew I’d fill my time with other things, but could I do it?! The feeling I experienced was so intriguing. It was like being my own pchycologist, except I have no idea what was going on scientifically in my head.
While I didn’t exactly miss Facebook, my heart rate went up and started pumping hard. There was a heavy feeling in my chest. The nerves in my hands felt twitchy, like when you are about to do something nerve-wracking. I really noticed it. Isn’t that funny?! I thought it quite bemusing and amusing. As the days ticked by, it has subsided, but I wonder how quickly I’ll re-establish my addiction symptoms when I go back.
I thought my withdrawal symptoms were fascinating because as I said, I didn’t really miss social media. I often feel meh about the stuff people put on Facebook. It has made me realise though, that I, and I suspect a lot of us, are nosey people. We like to know what everyone is up to. And I think related to that, is that social media means we don’t have to say goodbye. My Facebook Friends’ demographics range from my closest childhood friends, to friends I’m no longer close to, to parents of friends, to Church-friends who moved away, to friends who are currently a part of my face-to-face life, to in between demographics. Some people I’ve met precisely three times, and some I’ve never even met! Yet Facebook puts aside all the geographic distances, labels each other friends so that it is rude to distance yourself from someone if you so desire (unless you are brave), and puts you all together so you can hear about moments of their life.
While I am not about to quit my Facebook account and I do enjoy not losing my special friends and even getting to know some people better because of Facebook status’ (different to Facebook Messenger, I will add), I just personally prefer quality over quantity, and am starting to wonder if we sacrifice building new relationships and seeing the new awesomeness around us, because we cling to the friendships we had of old. (Also, there are so many stinkin’ memes and videos these days it is hard to find the actual status’ can I get an amen?! #butstillnotmovingtotwitter).
The other thing I think I learned from my social media hiatus is to just enjoy the moment without recording it. It’s funny, I tell myself, oh, I’d take this photo anyway regardless of putting it on social media, but reality is, I hardly touched my camera during the break. I did, however, think about these potential photos being instagrammable. Would I collage them, or spam everyone with ten whole photos, or just pick one?! Oh that’s right, I’m on a break. Haha.
I want to tell people what is going on. I want to join the funness of social media, and fun it is. On the other hand, this month has challenged me to get comfortable with my own smallness. I realised I try to sound a certain way or project myself a certain way, and I know not everyone is like this. I’m not making a ruling, so calm down. If you are your most genuine self on Facebook, that’s awesome. Don’t stop. I’m not saying tell everyone all your rubbish, but being genuine online and offline same, is great. I just think people, myself, we, sometimes try to sound smart, cocky, funny, obsessive, draining, whatever it is, online, because we want an outlet to rant, get attention, or something. Dare I say create drama? Make our lives look more perfect than they are because we compare ourselves to everyone else’s beautiful Sunday picnic? I don’t know the answer here. I don’t think it’s that Facebook is bad, but I just wonder if we are trying so hard to project ourselves.
I’m challenged to be okay with the fact that I am one single tiny person in this huge, enormous thing called life and the universe. I am still valuable, and still worth a lot, but I am small. I read once that animals sometimes puff themselves up to look bigger than they really are. Our rooster did this, until we killed him and found out what a scrawny guy he was underneath his white coat. I think the ultimate answer is to find peace with who you are and who God is and where he has placed us and to know that our life is just as awesome and valuable without anybody else knowing it really happened.
One of my cousins and her husband don’t have Facebook. She used to, but then she quit it. Six months ago I asked her if her or her husband had an account and she so happily shook her head and said nah, we think it distracts us from living.
I have one life, y’all. I am only twenty-one once in my entire life. I don’t get to live my life through anybody else. I have this one. ONE. I don’t want to project something of myself that isn’t honest. I want to be happy with my own smallness because Jesus + me = the dynamic duo even if I disappear into oblivion when I die. I want real and genuine relationships with the people in front of me and quality conversations with the people away from me. There are a gazillion skills I want to learn and things I want to do. So ultimately, when I go back on Facebook on Tuesday after thirty-one days without it, I want to remember these lessons I’ve learned. I don’t want to use social media as a time filler or live in fear that I’m gonna miss out if I’m not on it all the time. Instead, I want to be myself, be content, be happy, be wise with my time, and love well. And that’s what I learned about Facebook doing funny things to my head. x