Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I Quit Facebook

Yesterday I decided to give up Facebook.  This decision came on the heels of some recent heated exchanges between people of very different opinions than myself after I posted remarks they happened to disagree with.  It's not very often that my anger is stirred...I've come a long way since High School where I would have dealt violently with any heated exchange.  No, seriously, I did.

I realized something during these exchanges.  Something most people probably already know but I suppose took me longer to really grasp.  People treat each other differently when they're separated by a screen.  Let's blame the evil blue light.  But it's true.  And for someone who values personal authenticity and kindness above most things, that was a painful thing to realize.  I became obsessed with reading the vitriolic rants between people on the comments section of news articles.  I didn't understand how we arrived at this place.  A place where it was ok to talk to each other that way. A place where all the ways our parents taught us to be kind to one another was lost.  A place where people were reduced to a tiny square profile picture and could hide behind their relative anonymity and hurl their hate like poop from monkey's butt.  Yes, I just went there.  Because that's how it feels.  Ugly.  So I decided to end it.  When the thing you love no longer brings you joy, let the thing go.

The first hour I felt almost giddy.  I deleted the Facebook app off my iPhone and yet I found myself mentally wanting to pick it up and check it every few minutes like some Pavlovian dog, looking for her electronic reward.  No.  There would be no more scrolling through feed filled with adorable animal videos, daily play-by-plays (those are the worst), political this or thats, or pictures of children and selfies of their parents.  No more.  I was done.  Really, really done.  I made a decision to be completely present with whatever I was doing and whomever I was with.

I made dinner with my eldest daughter and we talked about cooking.  I taught her how to make Chicken Saltimbocca.  And in doing so, a great truth became revealed to me: My obsession with Facebook had fractured my life into a million pictures and blurbs about life, but my REAL LIFE had been reduced to something less than authentic.  I was never fully present because I was always looking for the quote or the perfect photo.  As a writer, mentally collecting moments to later capture on paper isn't an uncommon thing, but it is something that I used to do alone, and in one fell swoop.  Smart phones and instant access to everyone caused me to interrupt real life over and over and over again in the attempt of capturing it.  But all I was really doing was stopping it from happening organically.  "WAIT!  Let me take your picture!"  "Hold on, I have to put that on Facebook!"  "Just a minute, I want to read these comments."  "SELLLLLLFIEEEE!"

In my attempt to stay connected to people, I became disconnected from the perfect minutia of my real life.  The only one I will ever have.  That realization of that truth both hurt deeply and set me gloriously free from the bond I had with Facebook.  I saw so many moments pass before my mind's eye that I missed because I was never wholly there.  I vowed not to let that happen again.  I would delve wholly into the minutia, the details of my daily life and I would find joy there.

I drank too much wine at dinner, probably because I'm just a fast drinker and probably because I was excited about my new journey into Complete Presentness, I just coined that term (I think), feel free to use it.  (and this is where I feel compelled to enter an emoji, because that is what I have been reduced to. ) I went to the bathroom without my phone.  This was kind if a big deal.  I then remembered that before smart phones, I put books on the back of the toilet for those very occasions.  Oh yeah!  Books are for reading, not just decoration!  WHO KNEW?!

I walked the dog with my daughter and we found a huge feather.  I did not take a picture of it because memories don't have to be stored in a phone, hearts are good for that too.  I watched the season finale of Game of Thrones with my husband, while our six year old kept knocking on the door and telling us that she "just can't sweep, because I'm not tired" to which we yelled back through the locked door ""too bad!  It's past nine o'clock, get back in bed!".  I suppose some things will never change.  I left before the show ended because I knew what was going g to happen (thanks to Facebook) and couldn't bear to watch.  I went to bed and read some of a book instead of looking at my phone.  I used to read things, BIG THINGS!  I mentally reclaimed my time to read books.

I woke up this morning and noticed that so many people had text me through the night, and I realized something.  If people care about each other, they find a way to connect with them, wether it be through a phone call or text or letter.  Hokey as it may sound, love will find a way.  And it does.  And it did.  So for now, I relish the freedom that quitting Facebook has afforded me.  My mother says that this will wear off and it will get hard not to go back, but I am a very stubborn person and sometimes I can use that power for good.  I guess we shall see.