What I Will Gain from Quitting – Journal Entry 1

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I gave up Facebook and Twitter for Lent about three hours ago. This blog series will chronicle my experiences since the admission that it had become too much of a time suck and a distraction in my life. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna increase my posts here to make up for my lack of time online. I have children, a dog, the weather’s warming up, a book to edit, aging parents, and always: laundry.

Tuesday, February 12, 2016:

Lots of people talk about gaining something when they quit or stop something that’s toxic in their lives. When people quit smoking, they gain weight; when people quit drinking, they gain anxiety, they have to “feel the feelings” that they blocked by abusing their poison of choice.

Addictions are no joke and in my genetic make-up, I can really screw up my life in a huge way if I don’t stay on top of things. I just replied to a comment on my previous post:

“It’s all good to practice some self-awareness and rattle the chain every now and then. I knew in my heart what I needed to do. But what was causing me strife was the illusion of codependency, that I gave people meaning. I love the people I’ve met; I enjoy them immensely and if we were all together in the same neighborhood, we’d be inseparable, but FB is like an addiction for me. I didn’t get the twitches when I wasn’t online, but it was close. And then the anger at the envy knowing it was all [the content I refer to in the previous post] manufactured. I’m dealing with a child right now who badly wants to have a YouTube account because he wants to create content to be LIKED and APPROVED OF and have “hearts” and “shares” so he will become famous. So I can’t very well say it’s no big deal and still do all this. I’m 45. He’s a child, but I must model for him.”

For me, it came as a gift when I realized a couple days ago that I was truly, completely, totally and undeniably sick of Facebook. What had become an interest in 2008 became a fancy in 2009 and 2010; then a full-on habit little more than a year ago along with the deluded notion of self-import. I created a “fan page” for my blog, this blog you’re reading now.

It was all created with the best of intentions, but it wasn’t really an original idea, and for anyone who knows me personally: starting that fan page was the least likely thing you’d ever expect from me. It’s easy for me to say all this now, to blame someone I no longer speak to as the engine for my driving off the cliff, but she’s not responsible although she made it look easy. But having an intractable need to be liked by everyone makes those things easy. It’s the copy-cats, like me, who suck at it.

A real-life, delusional equivalent regarding my self-import would be this: how drinking too much makes me super charming, a scream at parties and an excellent dancer…

So what started as an interest, turned into a habit and then became a full-on obsession because I thought, in order to be a successful poet, artist, dancer, voice announcer, perfume salesperson, shoe seller, shoe maker, shoe reviewer, soap maker, painter, singer, musician, cook, potter, runner, lawyer, doctor, mother, baker, designer, architect, DJ, writer… you needed a Facebook page. You don’t and it doesn’t … whatever I just said. They are not interchangeable. They are apples and oranges. An apple will not taste better if you chill the orange before eating it.

I believed my own press. I thought what I was doing was providing a service, a ray of sunshine in some peoples’ day, but what I was doing, secretly (and if I honestly admit this to myself, which I am with you reading it), was luring them to come back, to stay online with me, to provide me with a relationship when there really wasn’t one. I am NOT saying the kindnesses were disingenuous. The exchanged kindnesses were absolutely sincere and I dig that. What I’m saying is this: it’s just online. It’s one dimensional, it’s not real. It’s nice, but they can’t run my errands nor can I run theirs.

What will make me a better writer? Facebook. Writing.

But that doesn’t matter at this point in the discussion although it was important to state — what matters is that I thought I needed to Be That Person. To Be A Success meant having a Facebook Fan Page. (I say to myself, “Self: look at the GM model … shit, if that company, which had a ton of cash said the scheme didn’t work, what the what do I think I can gain?”)

Facebook says this!: Forget what we thought about the old algorithms! Old business models are dead: no one talks to anyone anymore, they just Like one another now — but not you know, like-like… just like, like. Nothing too serious.

Chronology:

I started a blog a year before the FB page.

About three months later, I learned I could see my blog stats.

Ooh! Comments!

No! Spam. From Norwegian porn pages and Russian pharmaceutical brokers dealers.

Oh.

Then I learned I could watch my stats increase the more often I posted. That made sense.

Then I learned I could see what happens with the addition of the FB page.

Oh! Someone shared my FB page! How great! Five Likes! WOW! I’ll be a famous writer! Because THAT’S what makes me a Famous Writer: fans. Not writing… shhhh. Stop that. Writing has nothing to do with it; it’s all about appeal! Get back in your hole!! NnnnnNnnn.

Oh! To show up on a News Feed (what the what is that? — like US / Arab relations, like US GDP news, newsfeed? Oh! Like, Facebook news: “I just got an A” or “My kid just threw up in my lunch” or “Sven just stood up!” newsfeed. Got it…) I need to post more.

Post more what?

Post more stuff. More status updates. And blog posts. And posters. Posters that say nice things. Or things I say. Ok. Then people will share them. And that will get me more Likes. But I need to remember to put my website address or a watermark on the poster because then people will just steal it for their own.

What?!

No! Oh. But no one shared. Ok! I’m an optimist! I’m chipper! I’m doing the same things and expecting different results!

Then I saw other fan pages.

For other blogs.

This is fun! I’ll share your 10,000-strong fan page to my 34 fans and you can share mine which has 34 fans to your 10,000 fans.

Oh.

I appreciate the kick-start, but your fans not so much? Ok… well, I’ll still Like you and share your stuff because THAT’s what makes us popular and excellent writers. Because I’m a GOOD TEAM PLAYER! So if some of my fans see me share your stuff and they Like your stuff, but shows up on my page, then I get a Like and their friends see that They Liked…. your …. stuff………. on… my… page.

Oh. Ok. Well, I’m here now… let’s see what else is going on.

Oh! “Pimping!”

Page Pimping”? That sounds horrid. What the hell is that?

Your page, with “Bitches” and “Hos” and “F*ck” and “Butt Sex” in the titles will share my page named after a nickname my son gave to a dinner I made? Hmm… I’m seeing this as a no-win for me… But it’s different? But sort of similar to “S4Ss” — what’s that? “Shares for Shares?” Oh… sort of like what I tried three months ago. Ok, I’ll try again. I get that my page, Grass Oil, means NOTHING, really… but that was sort of the point. And I’m good with that because that means it’s working: that my fans are the most brilliant ever. They know that if I start putting cat memes or pictures of Lara Croft on my page that I’ve been abducted and replaced by aliens. Hey, they stick around and I don’t know why… but they do and I dig that about them, so the fault is mine that I’m not more famous than a page devoted to a ceramic copy of Lionel Richie’s head. Not kidding…

Then the Facebook IPO. If you didn’t have 300 fans by then, you were hosed. Because remember, this is what life is really all about: Facebook fans.

But I’ll just click here… and see what these other pages who like your page are doing…

And then began the foray into other fan pages for … what?

Political ads.

Hate Obama?

Love Obama.

Hate Gingrich? Love him?

And then there were the memes.

Someecards.

Hate.

Cat memes.

Willy Wonka memes.

What’s a meme?

Oh. That's a meme. Well... what the what? I mean... really? And we spend time on this? Reading this? Reading off a screen and reading what cats would say? Augh. Sigh.

Oh. That’s a meme. Well… what the what? I mean… really? And we spend time on this? Reading this? Reading off a screen and reading what cats would say? Augh. Sigh. I am old.

So go ahead and read just the definition. I dare you to read the origin. “The Selfish Gene.” I don’t want that disease or infection. I’m done. No, I already gave at the office.

So then I had this epiphany when I was vomiting last week from norovirus: GET OFFLINE. It was real brief, just like that. NONE OF THIS IS REAL. I MEAN, IT IS REAL, BECAUSE PEOPLE TYPE THESE THINGS, BUT NONE OF IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH DINNER, YOUR SON’S ALGEBRA HOMEWORK OR THE CARPOOL.

But… I won’t be popular anymore. I won’t see any more cat memes. Or offensive jokes or sexist comments or anti-gay slurs or things that scare me, like Guns for Girls. I won’t be popular anymore. I won’t be popular anymore. I won’t be popular anymore.

I won’t be popular anymore? To the 1 billion registered users, 462 of which “like” my fan page? That’s OK. That’s like this: there are 600 kids in my son’s school. I would say about 30 of them know me by sight. So, what’s 30 of 600… 55%? (hahahahaaaaa. i hate math.) but you see my point? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the bricks and mortar, and phone calls and the true friendships I’ve made with some fantastic bloggers and artists.

I will establish a diet. I will ration my time online, but only after this time of relief. I will keep my account open for that stuff, and to stay in touch with those people, but if I go back, I’m not gonna let this stuff get to me anymore. Let it invade my dreams and my psyche and distort my thinking. I want my fictional characters to do that instead. Then I’ll really be crazy. Because they’re made up.

So here we are. I am at my blog tap-tap-tapping away. It’s only been about four hours, but I can tell you I will have some behavioral habits to break.

The first will be to take the apps off my phone and my iPad. Check.

The next will be to not logon to FB first thing. Then stay there, for some stupid reason, as I had for many days in a row.

The second will be, after I hit “publish” on this post, to not go searching for my stats and wait for comments. I think what I will do is automate or schedule these posts, so I won’t be here when they upload. That will help.

Then shut off the wifi for my laptop so I can edit my book, which I hope I can release within the next 12 months and then… who knows.

By the way, Twitter, it’s easy. It’s fun, but I’m barely ever on. It brings me next-to-no views; literally: maybe 2 per post.

Being in the moment is the first remedy. Here we go.

Because she says it better than I do: “Eff you, FB.”

Thank you.

update: here is my second entry:Β https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/what-i-will-gained-by-quitting-2-five-days-after-facebook-lent-give-up/

12 responses »

  1. So… I’m not sure that I should tell you this, BUT… If you count the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter….there’s more than 40 days… “How can this be?” You might ask yourself… And from what I learned as a wee little Catholic who knows all the ways to cheat the system and take the occasional…lenten break…Sundays don’t count in lent. “What?” Yes. “Really?” Yes. “Should I…?” That, my friend is up to you.

    • Sundays…. This is good to know, so the prompts can go up and that can be me eDay. I appreciate this.

      Part of the -ism for me is waking up and thinking in FB statuses. Thinking whether not only is what am I thinking worthy of public consumption, but is it pithy enough, is it insightful, entertaining, clever, pointless? Do I matter? It’s very deep and FB hits (for me anyway) a nerve. A nerve of vulnerability, of Stuff, that is likely good to explore, but the FB mechanism doesn’t allow for that, so for me it’s like this great big paradox.

      Feel the feelings…. But don’t take too long…. Y’know? Stay clever or you will bore people. And then it can evolve into a trap: a false sense of self, a performance, which is comPLETEly not where I am (hence the morning status thinking).

      The draw to be Liked is so strong, in all of us, that I also found myself liking pages I didn’t really care about, playing The Game I didn’t understand. And for me, who tries to do a lot with intention, the intention became more attuned to my outward world (which is completely backwards now that I think about it), and that was hard. Is hard.

      I love banter. I’m a social person. But it needs rebalancing. I am a deep thinker, always have been, so sometimes FB isn’t a good fit.

      So thank you for the tip about Sundays. Thanks for everything, Chrissy! πŸ™‚

      • I wrote out like 2 responses, and each one kept getting deleted…

        So I will try again.

        I understand. Completely. I think in statuses and blog post titles and tweets. I think in blog posts and wonder, “Is that really funny? Is it funny enough?” All the time.

        I feel you. And I am so proud of you. I don’t think I could do this. And just remember…Sundays are a day of rest if you need them. πŸ™‚

  2. πŸ™‚ It’s nice to be FB free! I deactivated my personal account a little over a week ago. The Savage Heathen page is open, but I only put my blog posts on it. No more hours slipping into FB land! Your post about it was so much nicer than mine! Haha, I’m such a rage ball!

    • SH! Share your post with me. I love rage balls. (Especially when they are covered in cheese and then baked… mmmmm.)

      It is nice to be FB free. I went back to the Hirshhorn museum today, drove my car, did shit I’ve not done in a long time. The first trip to the museum was about 2 weeks ago at the prompt of my FB-free brother and we had a wonderful time. I’d forgotten what life off the grid is like. I am enjoying it. I’m sure I’ll get a little twitchy in a couple days, but so far, I’m almost 24 hours free and I’m glad of it. Soc Med hasn’t our best interests at heart at all. It wants us dependent and in its circus car, feeding our insecurity and our ids and narcissism. This will be / is good. Share your post! πŸ™‚

      • Geez, how did I not see this comment? Sorry lady, I’m a little gimpy with the blog still! Thank you so much for your kind words about my post! I don’t think I said it better than you at all, but I’m glad we’re on the same page, in this case, definitely not FB!

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