What I’ve Gained from Quitting 4 — Overcoming Habits, Resurrecting Old Good Ones

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I hosed jinxed myself yesterday.

I basically said that it was the first time since before Christmas that I was alone for an entire week, meaning that my kids were all at school every day. My oldest son actually went in to the doctor’s for a strep test which came back negative and he did go to school but today: they’re off. It snowed last night. A whole two inches and well (we are dealing with the massive and sluggish slurpee storm seen below), the local government thinks we’re all going to die, so we may as well die at home.

Slurpee Storm 2013

Slurpee Storm 2013

Today is day 21; the first day of my fourth week of Facebook hiatus (here is the first post about my decision). I was good all last week: the weather was great (that helps). I didn’t wake in Status Update mode; there were a couple moments of cuteness or frustration that I wanted to share or to vent, but I didn’t. Monday I wrote in my journal, “this is great! I’m cured! I haven’t thought in SU mode or anything!” But today, I’m fighting the urge to “post” about the slushstorm (the flakes are downy now and the size of egg yolks, so pretty). So for me, Facebook is like a theater set: I’m on a stage and I think everyone can see me, despite my knowing that the algorithms are such that not many can and after this hiatus, I wonder who will see any post..? And then I must remind myself: none of that matters…

The theater set metaphor raises the specter of the habits I formed last October when everyone was home sick on and off for those four months. The twitches are back and I’m bored, feeling trapped in my threadbare velvet seat, wanting to be on stage (even though I’m a largely private person). Where am I? In my office, hiding from humanity. But I’m not online, engaging with others whom I felt I’d built a fellowship. This is correct and good. The metaphorical and real curtains are open … I am in the world way more and I can see the flakes out front, they are even bigger now, criss-crossing and it looks like they mean it. It’s 31˚ out now…

these are big flakes!

these are big flakes!

Resurrecting a Good Habit

I started working out like a freak last Sunday. I felt another head cold coming on and I reverted back to my old habits of sweating it out. The “industry” rule is this: If you’re feeling sick above the throat: burn it up and sweat it out. If you’re feeling sick below the throat, let it run. Fever? Let it run.

I was able to burn it up and sweat it out because I’d given up Facebook. The next days, I am paying the piper. My lats are killing me, my anterior delts are screaming, my glutes are mad and just about every major muscle is telling me “HELL-O! WELCOME BACK!” But the cold is goneski. This is a good thing.

I don’t talk much about working out here and that’s because I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all, but the fact of the matter is that I do know a lot about health, exercise and nutrition and I can write about it all in an engaging and empowering way, so I will share those thoughts here.

I will write more about health and fitness tomorrow.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Replacing a Habit with Rabbit — This isn’t Magic

I also realized last night, as I was staring down the rabbit hole of school closings and a full house, that even though I haven’t been on Facebook (other than to attend to the nonprofit group and the fiction group I started and that means 1.5 minutes max a week) that I wrote the most blog posts ever last month. I’m feeling like a failure. I essentially replaced one outlet, Facebook, with another, this blog. I see that I also did that in October, when I planned to edit my book and spend less time on the blog.

I didn’t give up writing, I “gave up Facebook.” So then the self-judgement starts: Well, if I really wanted to give up something big, like Jesus did, I’d give up my computer and be a real… you know what? That talk is poison. Guess what: I’m keeping my computer. Jesus was divine. Writing keeps me sane. I have to be ok with accepting myself as a social creature. What I did is enough and the rewards are big and real.

The weirdness of all of this is the obvious independent variable: me. I can blame Facebook and my blog all I want (and I know I’m not) but the “problem” is me. My issue is a fear of being irrelevant. But to whom? I dunno. The five people who need me (Murphy is a person) plus me, largely have me and I am not irrelevant to them. This is tough…

So where did that fear of irrelevance come from? I think it came from Facebook — or maybe Facebook just digitizes it; makes it more immediate. I think the fear of irrelevance is a human condition — I feel we all wish to live feeling as though we’ve contributed somehow to the world or that people knew us… but the thing is: Facebook doesn’t do it. It’s not 3D, it’s not tangible, it’s not real.

My SIL and I were talking last night in person, face-to-face and we discussed the fact that 5-7 years ago, none of this (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc.) was really here for most of us and if we’re going to do studies on any of it, we should do them on how this massive onslaught of mobile social media has affected our well-being and our relationships and our brains. The data is not terribly compelling, but the trend seems to be bad.

600 People out of the 1 billion in China or India?

I read a post the other day alleging how Facebook makes us depressed. They interviewed 600 users. I had a hard time not laughing at the study because if we go sheerly by numbers, Facebook claims to have 1 billion registered users: basically, China. The study interviewed 600 Facebook users. So if Facebook is the population of China, or India, the study talked to as many people as there are in my child’s elementary school.

Mmmmmokay. Move along.

I’m not going to delve too much deeper into it other than to say this: That’s not a study. What they did determine though, is that the type of user who usually experiences depression as a result of being on Facebook is one who is not actively engaged on Facebook: the lurkers, the stalkers and the people who see other peoples’ input and think then that their own lives suck.

I am going to sound horrid, so put on your sunglasses: these study subjects sound like people who might have esteem / social issues to begin with and it does not define the type of Facebook user I am: I engage, I just stayed on too much, but I see why now: I felt trapped. I don’t think everyone’s life is rosey because most of the people I engage with on FB are people I also know off the grid. We commiserate; we avoid our domestic duties with the flair of a Vegas showgirl. When I’m in a shitty mood, I don’t go online. (Which actually sounds pretty good…) I go to my basement and pretend to beat the crap out of our heavy bag with my pink boxing gloves. I throw them at it. 

The other thing: Facebook simply bores people sometimes. It can be like the alleged humor of drunk parents — not only is it asinine, it’s pedestrian and common.

I searched “Facebook causes depression” and look at the results:

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 10.52.30 AM

26 million results.

I searched “Facebook causes happiness” and look at these results:

9.6 million - and most of those start talking about FB causing depression.

9.6 million – and then most of divert to FB causing depression.

The catch is here: living online all the time will constantly make you sad. Sitting on your butt, reading about other peoples’ stuff, looking at pictures, saying, quotes and someecards and cat memes — no matter how witty, apropos, fantastic or screwed up, is going to do NOTHING for our sense of self-worth, our productivity, our optimism, honing a talent or a skill, not to mention cook, clean, fold our laundry or get us back in shape.

A pal of mine wrote about Facebook and perceived perfection on her post, from the standpoint of motherhood and Facebook, and she’s right (we don’t have time to post reality sometimes because we’re cleaning up vomit or chasing the dog) and frankly, we don’t think people care. Lord knows once the moment passes, I don’t really want to think about it again, much less Share it.

So the twinge is gone. Did you know a craving lasts only 14 minutes? If we beat the 14 minutes, we beat the craving and we win.

It’s all about mindfulness. Owning our stuff; being ok with being “just” ok; not taking that online world as our only world and the biggest realization of all: we all die. About 99.2% of us will die largely irrelevant. Facebook wants us to think we can change that. But here’s me:  I’m really fighting irrelevance against the [online] population of China or India which is trying to do the same thing. Chances are… we are gonna stay this way and that’s A-OK by me.

this is a traffic jam in China. (not my pic, click for source)

Are you in there? Get out. The water’s fine.

Oh, these people aren’t online.

Here are just a few dozen people on bicycles… this isn’t even an aerial shot:

This isn’t even a fair representation. (not my pic – click for source)

This is India. Just a town there… (not my pic, click for source)

Be relevant to yourself. To your laundry. To your health.

Thank you.

update: here is when I talked about this next.

7 responses »

  1. Fitness and health? Yes, please. Working out is such a huge part of me, of what I do, and yet I am so resistant to “talking” about it “too much.” Hmm.

  2. You should definitely share the health and fitness knowledge! I’ll read it. And as traffic-jammy as those photos are, they make me want to travel. That would be a way better use of time than Facebook.

    • Oooooh! Travel! Yes. I need to do more of that. I shared some fitness stuff today; I’ll go more in depth next week. I love writing about fitness, but it’s hard to know where to start, so I think I’ll have to start at the beginning, as I did today: get up get down repeat. xo

  3. OH I am SOOO glad your son is healthy! It’s tough to keep them that way through the KILLER winters LOL SNOW ARMAGEDON SNOWMAGEDON NEMO LOL KILLER NAMES sounds like a movie on the SYFI Channel LOL!!! Another great post! I missed the one about facebook I’ll have to check it out!

    • there are ton of posts about my facebook hiatus — i’m coming to the welcome conclusion today that i’m bored of it all. which means i’m almost ready to go back with a new set of eyes. but more time away will help me deal with the urges.

      the snow here was a BUST! i know you all got dumped on. are you so SO ready for spring?!?

      xo

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