Daily Archives: February 18, 2013

What I Will Gain by Quitting — 2: Five days after Facebook Lent Give-Up

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This post is incredibly self-absorbed, so if you click X right now, I’d not blame you. However… what if what I have to say strikes a chord with you?

Here is my first entry about this topic: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/what-i-will-gain-from-quitting-journal-entry-1/

So it’s been five days since I left Facebook for Lent. (I think of it more as a matter of convenience actually, as I look back on it now because I’m not terribly religious, but I am spiritual.) The first thing I’ve noticed, and have allowed myself to admit is that by being on Facebook for so long, I’d become programmed or conditioned into thinking about my life, my day-to-day, or even my extraordinary experiences as status updates or as blog posts.

Often, I would wonder,

“Is this clever enough, will I get a Like?”

“Will it impress or somehow engage someone on a deeper level, or will it be ignored?”

“Do I want a deeper level? Do I even want to engage? Am I lying still to myself about all this?”

This is deep stuff and I am a deep thinker.

from http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/headcandy/2009/02/10-tips-for-giving-up-facebook-during-lent.html – this is a 4-year-old article. Its best line: “Write down the last five things you did. Wait ten minutes. Read the list. Ask yourself if you give a &%$#.”

Now, after a few days off the grid, I find myself itching to go there, during moments of perceived boredom, during moments of downtime; and I don’t know why yet. In reality, I am a SAHM, so there really isn’t any downtime; something always needs mending, cleaning, attending. I don’t know why I think I’d be better off reading about someone else’s life: it’s a distraction. A way of not dealing with my own.

Is it truly connection?

What is the point?

Is it to compare and contrast?

These are queries; and I haven’t a clue. I don’t judge anyone else; Facebook has been invaluable to shut-ins and people who have little outside exposure. But what about the rest of us? Those who are gregarious and social by nature? Is Facebook turning us, those people into shut-ins? I remember that Facebook lets 13-year-olds on it. I remember how it started: as the revenge tactic of a snubbed young man who decided to release his anger publicly at the woman who rejected him; but that wasn’t enough: he had to pull other women into the fold and embarrass slander them too.

The entire Facebook concept was begat of rejection, shame and vengeance. Of course we are told it has evolved since then, and it largely has, but still there lies a mustard seed of its essence: comparison and emptiness. I am kidding myself if I believe otherwise. Watch “The Social Network” if you aren’t savvy to its origins. Often I would be tired after being online. Seldom refreshed. – Me.

I used to be a news hound. I still am, or at least I thought I am. But I find myself discarding my news updates in favor of going on Facebook. I used to exercise diligently. I used to have amazing self-discipline. That has wandered away. I am hopeful that I will fill the ever-growing void of Facebook with self-engagement, with self-empowerment.

. . . . . . . . .

Last week, for Valentines Day, a “holiday” I would normally reject, I made “lovesagna” (instead of lasagne), I made red velvet cupcakes and I dipped strawberries in chocolate. All of this, this wellspring of familial enthusiasm for the babies I created with the love of my life was encouraged by a meeting with a eldercare consultant, who knowingly nodded to my snub of Valentines Day, my referring to it as a manufactured holiday. It was never really celebrated in my house as a child; my family of origin was not a dependably happy place. Lots of pain, secrets, privacy. I told her these things; we must get to know these consultants in a way we are not comfortable with. They need to know things: like how we engage with our parents. That was a very difficult exchange.

She understood my reluctance, my inwardly directed shame at not being a better daughter; at not tending to my aging and needy mother. She understood my hesitancy to over-perform with people who did not over-perform for me. Who left me waiting outside the camp grounds or the dance alone or with teachers or counselors who’d had places to go and who knew that although it wasn’t my fault, I was the target of their heat vision. So much pain, but so much joy too. She answered me with, “You can not always give back what was not easily given to you.”

She listened to my recollections of the day and others like it and quietly said later on, “I just believe we should celebrate something every day, and if we are given this gift, to celebrate the most wonderful thing of all, the one day we can let it all out there, and put it out for the world to see, we should. We just should.” And she was right. I’ve never given much celebration to anything major or minor occasions in my life; a remnant of my parents’ emotional parsimony and narcissism. I need to change that. I am demonstrative with my kids, but I am not honoring my true inner cheerful human person when I get vexed every time a happy event comes around just because my parents had issues with it.

How this dovetailed though, with the Facebook sacrifice (ouch) is that I wouldn’t have done those things, I wouldn’t have gone to the store, gotten the makings, gotten out the pans and the mixer and the gear to make those foods because why… I would have gone on Facebook instead. I would have logged on and said “Happy Valentines Day!” and I wouldn’t have meant it. Not one syllable. I would have Liked other people’s stuff, and Liked their stories, and I would have Shared some sentiment of the day, and I would have grumbled inside, fueling my inner misanthrope and calling myself a hypocrite because I would have been denying my inner self: the private person I am, the deeply thinking and deeply feeling person I am, the analyst, the artist, all of it denied rejected to stay popular with the crowd. To do what everyone else is doing.

I celebrated Valentine’s Day and the best part of all of this is that I didn’t say it on Facebook, but I said it privately, to my family, and I meant every syllable. For the first time in a very long while. Probably ever.

Yesterday, Sunday, I watched nothing but old movies on the couch. I watched “Gaslight” and “How to Catch a Thief” and then later I watched the not-as-old, “A Beautiful Mind”; I was struck by them all. Every single one of those stories was about masquerade in one fashion or another. We all have vulnerabilities.

Today, I am waking with less self-consciousness of my thoughts; whether they are “Share” worthy. Wondering if any of it matters. But I miss my close FB friends very much. But I don’t reach out; I feel slightly alone, I feel slightly sad about my decision. But this is how it goes. This is where the growth is. This is where the pay dirt is. As my very wise therapist said years ago when I was addressing my addiction to chaos he said, “all resistance is to change.” How right he was.

Thank you.

ps – here is the next entry: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/what-i-will-gain-by-quitting-facebook-for-lent-3-resisting-urges-feeling-left-out/