For my 2017 new year’s resolution I resolved to take a break from Facebook, to digitally disconnect and sort through my emotions and how it was all connected. Oddly enough it was the passing comment of a family member that triggered this idea. I was told with a well meaning intent, “Thank goodness for Facebook, it’s how I keep track of what you’re up to!” Normally, this comment wouldn’t bother me because it was true, at least in my mind true to all the family and friends that live in another state. But what caused it to bother me was that this family member lives only 30 minutes from me.
Now, I may behave as though my life is extremely busy, but honestly it is not. I leave the house at 6 am, drop boys off at school, work until 2 pm, pick boys up from school, run errands or doctor’s appointments if we have them that day and than am home by 4 pm maybe 5 on a particularly busy day. Other than that I am home, working on my various hobbies, watching movies with kids, and doing my share of the household work. So to hear thatcomment hurt, but deeper than that I realized I didn’t feel lonely and I couldn’t understand why. My social world is very dull and limited, outside my coworkers and my immediate family. So I started to think about what was going on. Then a light bulb went on one night while I was perusing through all the FB feeds as was my nightly ritual. FB had become my social outlet, my social world. I thought how sad is that?
So, I thought I need to figure out how bad my dependence on FB was for a social outlet. I backed off on using it. Unfortunately, I am a bit obsessive and an extreme creature of habit. I struggled to not click on the app, to not check my laptop at home, or to check my tablet at work. I even prayed about it in frustration at my weakness over what I was coming to see as an addiction. I finally came to the realization I needed it to be off! So that is where my experiment started. I decided for new years I would take a break until I felt it was safe for my emotional health to get back on.
The past 2 months I learned alot. I learned I did have a social addiction to FB. I also learned how little face to face social interaction I actually had with all the people I considered “close”. I learned I had grown lazy in my time with God, in my desire to fulfill my dream to write a true story, how I hadn’t read a real book in quite a while, I hadn’t completed any of my craft projects in a long time and sadly how disconnected my immediate family has become because we all are guilty of too much screen time. It was almost like one of those sci-fi movies where technology consumes us that we lose who we are and it upset me.
Honestly, it took me 2 weeks to get over the emotions of breaking away from FB. I went through the typical, psychological symptoms of loss. Depression (which is a constant “friend” of mine), loneliness, feeling lost, not knowing what to do with myself, temptation, etc. I was miserable those 2 weeks, but knew I had to stick it out, however, once I got used to it I began to enjoy my time with my loved ones once more. And my stress levels dropped because I wasn’t unintentionally hurt by random comments or pictures that are posted (I find many of us don’t realize how their comments and pictures can emotionally affect people, I know I didn’t). I also began to understand who was really invested in my life and in my family’s life. The ones who reached out, who asked, who connected with us to see what was going on in our lives. I also began talking on the phone again to family and friends. I was even inspired to start socially gathering with people in my life again, more so than I have in a while.
On the flip side, it also showed me how awkward and how truly disconnected I am with many people in my life that I had mistakenly thought I was close too. This has saddened me greatly and caused a certain level of broken hearted tears. To tell you the truth, I’m still figuring out and praying with how to deal with that part, but I won’t bore you with that aspect.
This experiment as painful as it has been though has been a good thing. It’s taught me about digital boundaries for myself and about what I truly am looking for in friendships and relationships as a whole.
I have reactivated my FB account because I finally feel ready to be on it again, but this time I have set strong boundaries to never cross again. The app will not be on my phone or tablet ever again,(it’s too easy to access). I will only view it at home on my laptop from now on. I will limit my weekly visit to check out FB and scale back my posts in general.
I know not everyone needs these types of boundaries and can control themselves. I also know other people have no problem balancing equal face to face relationship versus digital ones. But for me I need rules.
I admit I’m glad to be returning. I have missed connecting with friends via FB that I rarely get to see, but I know now I need to cultivate the face to face friendships just as much. I also miss being able to post joyous or good news that our family experiences’ like Matthew’s baptism or Tayler’s chance to get a job at bakery (which is her dream). I also have missed seeing the good and joyous news of friends who have had babies, going on fantastic vacations, announcing weddings, etc.
So with that thought in mind I’ll see you on FB, just more cautiously and what I really would love is to see you in person! So call, text or msg me for a cup of coffee! I’d love to really see and visit with you.