What I’ve Gained by Quitting 6 — Final Entry: Svasanahhhh…

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Holy S. I just wrote this entire post thinking I had one more week to go. I don’t – I have two more weeks to go. What blessed relief! It just goes to show how ambivalent I still am about this whole thing…

Well, this is it. I have one week to go until I can return to Facebook. I plan to spend the majority of this time completely offline save for writing any blog posts here and editing my book. Here’s my first post about it all.

I’ve made some significant inroads regarding my vulnerabilities and insecurities on social media over the last few weeks and I have to say that while I’m looking forward to “seeing” my friends again, I am not looking forward to the nagging tugs and quiet thoughts that I’m not ____ enough or ____ enough or ____ enough; the kind of “stinkin’ thinkin'” that social media engenders.

I see these final days as a last-ditch effort to retain my sanity, my hold on the lessons. Like the final pose in yoga, “svasana” (“corpse pose”) it’s the glue that will seal the lessons into my psyche.

I feel not a little unlike the character “Brooks” from the fantastical “Shawshank Redemption“; he had a hard time adjusting to freedom from living an institutional life in a corruptly managed federal prison; ultimately, it was too difficult for him and he hung himself. That outcome is nowhere near where I am emotionally, but I do have this to say: there is freedom in restrictions. If you feel you can’t trust don’t regard yourself enough to set boundaries, the boundaries imposed under the tenets and auspices of a religious experience will certainly bring you comfort.

I saw my Lenten experience akin to mom calling me in from my dubious awesome friends outside my house late at night. I didn’t want to stay with them, but I didn’t want to be a nerd, so when she called me in, I rolled my eyes to my friends, and sighed relief as I crossed my house’s threshold.

I’ve been reading Brené Brown‘s book, Daring Greatly the past few days and it’s tremendous. I am hopeful that I will finish it this week, it being my verbal svasana to help me keep my bearings when I return to Facebook. She is my hero.

Look, I know this might sound hokey or super ego-obsessed / deep or freaking ridiculous to some of you. To others, it might not sound quite so ridiculous. I am 45 — I am not part of this super-de-duper Internet generation.

I am again, the ham and cheese in the digital sandwich. I’ve got my kids who know everything there is to know about the Internet (and mostly more than I’d like) and then I’ve got my parents, my mother mostly, who can’t believe that you can read a message that one computer sends to another computer within a second’s time (in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m certain that she believes there are little faeries and leprechauns making all these things happen, as her own mother could only describe events such as transistor radios and light bulbs). And let’s not even talk about smartphones. I said “transistor radio” in the preceding sentence.

So I hang on to those romantic and slightly insane notions of magic when it comes to this whole “social media as life experience” thing. I waver between feeling it really isn’t for me and “holy cow did you know there’s an app called Fanhattan that collects all the latest movie info (old or new film) and tells you where to find it to view it — across all platforms?!” This is me. This is my sandwich. Make your own. Pickle spears are in the fridge.

As feverishly and as desperately as I grasp the reins of those galloping horses of the publishing apocalypse, I will maintain, 100% that I don’t need to be totally online to be successful. Why? Because I have my own measurements for success and I have determined that I really don’t give a shit about anyone else’s scale. Nyah. But I’m not defensive about it, I swear. I’m not. See? Really. 

I’ve dallied with ideas: What if F. Scott Fitzgerald blogged? Would he sound like I do? Worried, scared about my talent, woeful about his prospects? Unable to hobnob with the great unwashed, the hoi polloi (even though is was hoi polloi and it IS the hoi polloi which bring richness to our lives? — how many more times can I type ‘hoi polloi’?) and utterly distracted about the point of it all, losing his focus because he concentrated more on the act of hob nobbing than the act of writing? I think this: if FSF were here now and online, Zelda would be his Courtney Love.

People say “balance” – one of my favorite social media writers, the inimitable Kristen Lamb, says we can do it all. But what if you hail from an unbalanced, dysfunctional family where addiction was also an addiction? It’s hard. I know part of Kristen’s story, she has shared it on her site from time-to-time, and she has been gracious to me in very small yet dense ways (which I’m sure she must identify with herself) that keep me going, keep me focused on the Big Picture.

And I’m certainly not some social media Galileo; I just know that it’s likely that instead of looking for answers to my achievements and value in an online presence I should likely be considering my presence more in the stars and on the earth.

this was the weather last week at the boathouse when i trained for launch driving. gorgeous?

this was the weather last week at the boathouse when i trained for launch driving. gorgeous?

I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in an email discussion with a dear friend about all this. She and I have shared so many similar appreciations of the situation: she gets it. In one of our exchanges she went deep, super-vulnerable and stated beautifully how Facebook, social media and all the rest are never-ending and how it never satisfies. I replied with my thoughts:

There are no boundaries, so it creates a self-fulfilling vortex of need for more likes, more appreciation, more “go viral” desires and the rest. It’s sick and it’s intentional. Remember, and I say this in all my Facebook-relevant posts: it was created on the steam of vengeance from rejection. It is driven by greed. Even Facebook isn’t big enough for Facebook; they want more of us, more of our time, more of our money, more ad revenue. Do you think for one minute that if they allowed us to pay for a year without the ads that they’d do it? NEVER.

I can’t write about this subject anymore. I can’t do it to you, and I can’t do it to me; it’s become what I feared most: its own thing. And like Facebook, it is never-ending, a vortex of conceit. I suspected that would happen last week, by then raising the specter of it was a formality — it was already looming: like the moon. It just needed to show itself. If you’ve been following me on this “journey” (I am beginning to REALLY hate that word by the way), you have likely winced or nodded when I’ve stated various things about myself. I have nothing to hide.

murph

My beautiful boy, Murphy, has been my loyal companion through all my missives, screeds and posts about Facebook. He has lain in “our” office as I type. Right now, he rests behind me and he reminds me of that fantastic painting by Wyeth of the labrador on the bed.

So what have I learned in all of this? That I’m alright without Facebook. That I’m just like anyone else. That social media is fun, but it’s totally optional. I’ve picked up more blog fans than I ever have since Lent began: 19. This is nice affirmation that I’m on the right track. To wit, I’ve joined a local writer’s group and I’m connected with a real-life critique partner. She will send me her stuff and I will send her mine. We met in the most fractious of ways, but our relationship is proof that good things can be born of chaos.

As I consider him at this moment, Murphy grounds me. He will be my gentle reminder with a snuffle or a collar jingle or a leg adjustment, to get offline. I just wish he’d sleep away from the door because we use it. I feel guilty asking him to move.

Thank you.

ps – as I reflect on the fact that I’ve got two weeks left, I don’t think my mistake wasn’t a mistake. I think now that I can release all this “stuff” and not think about it anymore. I’ve got two weeks to go, but really: i’m tired of “discovering” things about it all. 

7 responses »

  1. WOW you are SO BUSY!!! Well I think that you have been working SO hard and I know it’s going to pay off for you!
    I think the Facebook brake is a great idea and a BRAVE test for LENT unlike other families I’ve hard just gave up meat or something they could do with out! You chose something REALLY important to you and I commend you on that! It’s ALMOST OVER!

    • Oh! Thank you Jasmine! Yes, it’s hard; not so much the Facebook break (which is hard), but also the LESSONS from it all. The humility, the overestimating our import, the false self, the vulnerability… Yes, that is the “work” you have referenced. People can give up something and not think about what it means, but for me, the LESSONS, oy. That is where the pay dirt is. I “go” places some people find uncomfortable; that’s theirs. I’m not all about TMI, but I think the universal truths, the humility and feelings of not being / looking / sounding / doing _____ enough are universal. If we can tap that and be ok with it, really sit with it, we can come out ahead. Xo

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