Tag Archives: giving up facebook for lent

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. 

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.

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/

Three Things Thursday 3 — Free Ways to Live Well(er)

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I started this series, thinking it would be fun to share three things I love which help me enhance my Mind, Body and Spirit in less than 750 words. Last week’s offered Art, Apps and Apologies and it went over the limit due to captions (and my inability to censor myself).

I am meeting with the “aging consultant” for my parents today to discuss their situation, as requested by my father. I know that this meeting will only be tenable emotionally because it will happen on the heels of my yoga class. I will need every whisper of namaste during this meeting over hummous, pita points, and cucumber medallions dipped in tzatiki.

I taught sixth graders a bit of yoga this week; I love sharing the gift of yoga with people. Especially children, who have waaaaaay too many responsibilities these days placed upon their narrow shoulders. I showed them how the best gift we can give ourselves is the gift of slowing down. I doubt they’ll adhere to it now, but maybe when they’re my age they might remember.

All of this brings us to three free things:

Mind: Meditate

Slow down and meditate. I don’t mean sit in criss-cross applesauce and hum Ommmmmmm to yourself. I mean to be where you are (if you’re not driving) and just calm the heck down. Calm. Yourself. Down.

"Just Let Go. Be the Leaf." learning, and loving this app, "Drawing Carl" on my ipad.

“Just let go… be the leaf.” learning, and loving this app, “Drawing Carl” on my iPad.

Here’s how: Imagine a place you love, a beach, a forest, a mountain, a lakeside and close your eyes. See that place and as you inhale, count down from 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1… pause and exhale counting down from 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … pause. When you increase the exhale, you are releasing oxytocin and dopamine, and feeling good. Other than the nicotine addiction, this is one of the reasons smokers smoke… the inhale and the exhale; they savor it. If smokers could learn to do this without the cigarette, they’d be golden. Do this five times at first and stay in your favorite place. Just be. If a thought comes in, don’t judge it, let it drift away. Just let go. If you want to do more than five times, do! Wanna know when to stop? The MOMENT it becomes irritating to your spirit, body or mind. Take in one last breath and exhale normally. Try it again later.

Body: Nap

A nap. Sounds easier said than done. As a mother, I wear many hats. One of them is crazed insomniac. I don’t know if it’s hormones, but I’m not getting much sleep at night these days. Soon I’ll be popping the Geritol. That comment used to get laughs, now it just gets knowing sighs and nods. When you’re not driving, respond to your body giving you a tug to lay down and nap. This is different than the meditation. For in meditation, we need to be conscious. We aren’t working out crises or other stuff, as we do in REM dreaming. But take a nap. I took one last week, after the norovirus, and I slept for four hours. I was ready to take hostages before the nap: shaky, agitated, unfocused, bumping into things. Then I took the nap and I felt human. Homo Sapiens even. Just close the blinds, turn off the phone, and nap.

Nap. Windows, couch, you. You can do this. You're allowed.

Nap. Windows, couch, you. You can do this. You’re allowed.

Soul: Perspective, life off the grid

I gave up Facebook for Lent. It was the best choice ever. I don’t know what will happen after Lent, but it’s only been two days and I’ve caught up on laundry (holla!), I’ve become OK with myself and the fact that I’m normal, not perfect, not wealthy, not fantastically domestic and not thinking as much in terms of “status updates.” I wrote (excessively?) about the impending need to unplug, the lie I’d been living and coming to terms with my vulnerability two days ago, Tuesday in one post and then I gave my rationale and cited reasons and a chronology of my obsession in a second post in the same day. Apparently I had some demons to exorcise. I was never addicted (in the clinical, life interrupted, fashion) to it, but I was close. I miss my FB friends, but I’m loving the life I’ve returned to so very much. Try it. Even for a weekend. The blue and white in the sky is waaaay more better (more better… like that?) than the blue and white on your monitor.

Unplug to plug in to life.

Unplug to plug into life.

Hmm. A common theme: not driving and not online and loving yourself. Go for it.

Thank you.