Since 1 August, I’ve made 6 posts to my Facebook page.
1 photo of my kid (uploaded via iOS)
1 thanking somebody for sending me a book
1 email from a student
1 photo for a friend
1 Kickstarter link
1 comment on Robin Williams’ death
I didn’t make any at all (I think) in the first week of my little Facebook sabbatical, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as you might think it would be.
My plan is to keep this up for the rest of August. I still look at FB a couple times a day, comment on some friends’ posts, that kind of thing, but the obsessive looking-every-ten-minutes shit had to come to a screeching halt.
I’ve been trying to find a way to articulate why I’m doing this and what it’s doing for me. It’s hard to put into words, but I’ll try.
What it’s doing for me is giving me the opportunity to really read what my friends are posting. I’m far less concerned about what I’m going to put up, and more concerned with what I can tell my friends that will help, inform or amuse them. I love making people laugh – I’m not particularly good at it, I don’t think, but I sure love trying. What I’ve found is kind of like when you stop talking and start listening – you learn things about people, and quite often those things are interesting.
It’s also created a lot of “extra” time for me. Time, for instance, to really focus on a couple of work projects that I was slacking on. Time to rewrite all my syllabi for the fall semester, and really focus on them to update them instead of desperately just changing some dates at the last minute. Time to hang out with my kid. Getting to bed at a decent hour.
I think, though, and perhaps more importantly, what my FB sabbatical has done for me (and kind of my hope when I thought of it), is that I feel better about myself. Simply not reading everything – frankly, there’s no way I can keep up with everything posted by everybody if I’m not spending hours on FB – is improving my self-esteem.
I don’t feel like a rapist. I don’t feel like a racist. I don’t feel like a sexist. I don’t feel like I’m ignoring the moral implications of the riots in Ferguson. I don’t feel like I’m wrong for thinking Israel (or Gaza) is right (or wrong) in how they’re dealing with Gaza (or Israel). I don’t feel like a filthy xenophobe or an asshole homo-hater. I don’t feel like I’ve abandoned my faculties because I don’t support (or oppose) Obamacare or any of a hundred other hot-button semi- or pseudo-political ideas.
I like the way I feel when my Facebook feed isn’t telling me I’m a horrible person because I’m not doing enough about THIS ISSUE RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. I really do.
I can’t change the nature of Facebook, but I can certainly change how I interact with it. Instead of burying myself in FB, I’ve actually been talking to people. Instead of sending a FB message to my cousin, I called her. Instead of posting a photo of my kid on FB, I sent it to my mother just for her.
It’s freeing, and I feel like I’ve taken a big step towards controlling Facebook, rather than having it control me.
I suppose I’m lucky, in a sense, that I don’t have a particularly addictive personality. I never got involved with drugs or tobacco, and once upon a time when I felt like I was drinking too much, I just quit doing it that much. I’ve walked away from toxic friendships and even destructive family relationships. I was never one that pined away for years over lost loves. Caffeine? Well, that’s about as close as I think I get to anything resembling an addiction, and I periodically give that up for long periods of time, too.
Anyway, and I know this is getting long, there’s still two weeks to go. We’ll see how it all pans out. In the meantime, give me a call 🙂