Original Photo Credit: Flickr
I started my on-line presence in 2002, after my husband and I decided to start a family. It appeared pregnancy was not going to be a simple endeavor for me. We started trying to conceive in 2001, and did not have any success until 2004. I joined a webpage called Fertility Friends, and did all the stuff a woman desperate to have a child does. I tracked my morning temperature and posted pictures of pregnancy and ovulation tests to bulletin boards to see if that much coveted line would appear. I would be up all hours of the night chatting, trying to ascertain if a shadow of a line meant a positive pregnancy test, and when I did get a positive pregnancy test, I cried when the positive test was a false positive and again when I lost a pregnancy very early along. After having my children, I joined bulletin boards. I participated in bulletin boards with female veterans, mothers, and eventually mothers of children with developmental disabilities.
Facebook is a socially awkward mother of two children’s dream. It is a way to communicate with those you know. There is no hiding behind a screen name and an avatar. There is no deceit, because you KNOW these people. It is also the perfect location for a budding would-be author, who has a penchant for photography and a love of nature to brand herself. I saw few pitfalls when I signed up for Facebook. My friend (from the bulletin board) and I had made up, and I was having fun sharing pictures, debating with other people, and even writing a few blog posts that would be published in regional and national magazines and blogs. But under all that good, there is also a whole lot of negative.
A few years ago, I posted my opinion on a sensitive topic. I ended up not only getting a whole lot of personal messages; I was systemically removed and blocked from a person considered a dear friend. I realized that as good as Facebook was for me, it had too many pitfalls and traps. When on it, I lost track of time. I posted too much information, and gave people, even though I knew them, too much ammunition to use against me. Facebook was not a leisure time, it was an obsession.
The first year I gave up Facebook for Lent, in 2012, I did it half-heartedly. I took it off my phone. I still had Twitter, and I kept the password. I would log on to “maintain” my blog, and checked the statuses of friends, but kept my comments to myself. In 2013, I changed the password to something I would never remember, and then got back onto Facebook by changing my password about 4 ½ weeks into Lent. Again, my attempts at removing myself from social media were half-hearted, and did not have the intended affect.
This year, I did it again. This time, my husband has my password, and I have not faltered. I removed all social media except for Pinterest. The first few days were rough. I was tempted to put my thoughts on Facebook, or Twitter. I would turn on my phone to check my status to realize shortly after logging on, “Oh yeah, I’m not on it anymore.” It was especially tough last week, when I had my wisdom teeth out, and was in bed on pain medication, not wanting to move, or even watch television. I realized how ingrained Facebook was to my life.
I relied on Facebook for advice. I shared big news on Facebook, but for the last 6 weeks, that news has been muted. I have not shared that I had oral surgery and suffered from a dry socket. I have not shared that I was diagnosed with skin cancer (don’t worry it’s not melanoma and is not likely to spread). I have not shared that I’m now running again after my back injury, and that my back injury was nothing more than a strained S-1 joint. I can’t brag about my upcoming trip to Miami for my first professional conference in over 15 years, or that I’m going to try to go back to work. I can’t tell you that my novel is over half-way edited, and I have changed the name and some of the premise, because a stupid television show stole my idea. I can’t obsess over certain aspects of my life. I even get my news from Facebook. I have friends in all corners of the world, who post their opinions on little covered news stories, and I now get my news from the evening news like a dinosaur. Most of all, I cannot promote my brand, my writing, or myself as I attempt to brand myself and get my coveted works published. There’s a lot I cannot do when I take myself off the grid.
But there are a lot of things I learned from this experience. I learned who my true friends are. I received a phone call from Katie Foley a few days after my surgery terrified that I had fallen off the face of the Earth. High on Percocet, I explained that I was taking a social networking vacay, and I wanted to go to sleep. I sure hope I didn’t sound as high as I was. I discovered this thing called time! It is truly a remarkable thing. I discovered how much time I truly have when I’m not glued to my phone, or computer, writing innocuous updates about mundane things that people really don’t care about. I also found out that I’m happier. I’m not focused on negativity. I discovered that people tend to be depressed and negative when they post on Facebook, and when I take myself away from that environment of constant over-sharing, I’m a happier person. Finally, I discovered that there is a life outside of a cell phone screen, or a computer screen. I have conversations with my family now, instead of getting mad about them interrupting the conversations I was having on-line. When I take pictures, my daughter has stopped asking me if I posted it on Facebook, and who I was tagging. I also lost over 15 pounds, probably from not sitting on my butt updating my status.
Now, Lent is halfway done, and before you know it Easter will be here. Those that give up something as a Lenten sacrifice can start enjoying the things they sacrificed during Lent. I am at a personal crossroads. I would love to continue to be off social media, but I would definitely miss it, and I would definitely miss out. I would miss the friends I have connected with on-line and in the real world. I would miss getting information, some of it vital. And I would miss the readership that being on Facebook allows me to connect to. Right now, I’m really indecisive about whether I want to go back on it or not. I will save that decision come Easter Sunday, after the kids find their eggs, and I enjoy a glass of wine (something else I gave up for Lent with my husband). Until then, I’m blissfully unaware, and filled with a ton of extra time.
Many Kind Regards,
Jodi quit Facebook and was more motivated. See why EJ chose to fire motivation here.