Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Taking control (social media)

I’ve written about paring down on social media previously, but I’m finding that it is something that periodically needs re-visiting.

Since starting to use “Facebook without friends” (enjoying articles and select pages, but not using it for connecting with friends) about 10 months ago, things have been much better. I have no regrets, despite the decrease in the number of people I communicate with regularly. Quality over quantity and all that, along with the fact that it is exhausting attempting to maintain so many connections and the constant influx of information was incredibly overwhelming. Unlike many others, I’m not a twitter or Instagram (what else is there? Are there others now?) person. I had less to detach from.

After removing the web browser from my phone (with discomfort but a profound sense of freedom) as well as “work” related e-mails, I did slip back somewhat. The browser crept back, the e-mail crept back in. Checking and searching slowly increased again, even if I didn’t actually spend much time at all when checking. My small amount of online shopping also became less contained in regards to when and where I did it. In addition, I also stopped putting my phone “away” (out of site in a special box where I could still hear it if desired), which increased compulsive checking of… the weather (what else was left?)

So, after running myself into the ground with various work things which in turn crossed over into phone use and e-mail checking and the like (it makes it all so much easier!), I stopped to re-evaluate. I needed, for the sake of my sanity, to take stock again.

This time I enabled restrictions on my phone, disabling all web browsers, the ability to download new applications (I.E. web browsers) and also inhibiting my ability to make any further paring down very difficult to undo (deleting my work related e-mail access.)

A trusted party has my restrictions pin number, and I don’t see her for at least a week, if not two. I have too much pride to contact her prior to the scheduled time. I doubt I’ll re-install after a week, but removing the ability to give into temptation in the first couple of weeks makes it much easier to stick to.

Again, there has been a combination of feelings – a profound sense of lightness and freedom, but also that slight discomfort. It is odd not to be able to google the answer to any question at any time. It’s difficult to not pick up my phone and compulsively check… the weather… but it gets easier by the hour. I put my phone away more and do word searches (on paper!) when watching TV to occupy my hands. I play Tetris on my 23 year old Gameboy. I am left to wonder about the answer of what ever I’m wondering about at any particular time; I’ve discovered (again) that it can actually be nice to not always find the answer… there is a nice feeling of mystery just being left to wonder.

Things are more peaceful. My mind is calmer. I am starting to find my feet again.

I still have access to all of these applications on my laptop, which I keep out of my main living area. I can still look things up or tend to e-mails or do work that I want or need to, but it is easier to enforce the needed time away from these things without them in the palm of my hand. If I really want or need to know something, I’ll go look it up. If I’m away from home or in bed at the time, I leave it, and if I care enough or it matters enough, then I’ll remember to look it up later; it’s amazing how rarely I do remember or care enough.

So, that’s my experience. Take something from it or don’t, but either way, it’s working for me.

Johansen X



Feeling Feelings

Initially leaving Facebook was such a relief for me. It is still a relief, but I’m struggling a little more not to log-in now (I haven’t). There was, after-all, a reason I returned to it last time.¬† I notice that the times that I miss it most are the ones when I feel most vulnerable; when I am tired, when I am not simply alone but lonely. It is a hard realization – even when you have known it intellectually – that your more stable and meaningful relationships are fewer than you would like.

Facebook doesn’t necessary offer more meaningful relationships or satisfy the needs that those particular sorts of relationships meet, but ever so briefly, it can allow ourselves to think otherwise. For me, I find that thought a fleeting one, though, otherwise I’d just head back.

When you’re tired and alone and lonely, and more specifically, alone with your feelings, the temptation to run back and refresh that newsfeed can be strong. Sitting with difficult feelings is, well, difficult. I don’t think many of us are very good at it, and we certainly live in a society that offers endless distraction and escapes from them, at least temporarily. When we stop, the feelings return. When they return, we seek another distraction to escape them yet again.

I think distraction has its place in ensuring our well-being or survival. There are times when difficult feelings can be so intense that they can cause use to become unsafe (with ourselves or with others.) Distraction at these intense times can serve a hugely positive purpose.

Intense and unsafe times aside, I do advocate practicing sitting with challenging feelings. There are many benefits, but for me, one of the main ones is that running from them just becomes so exhausting. Feeling so exhausted and drained ultimately makes me even more vulnerable to such difficult feelings. It can make things worse.

In starting to sit with difficult feelings, I think we need to start small. Maybe set a challenge such as not pulling out your phone while waiting in line or for a bus. Maybe delaying a distraction response of just five minutes (one one or two) and slowly increasing over time with your capacity to do so.

In my experience, allowing space for challenging feelings to “just be” can also mean that we slow enough and create enough space to also notice and thus allow positive feelings or moments of joy. When we are so constantly occupied, I think that we can lose the latter with the constant attempt to avoid the former.

These are just my own thoughts. Yours, they may well be different.

Do what you need to do and do what works for you. Regardless of your choice of action, one useful question (that only you will be able to answer) is “so, how is this working for me?”

Like always running, Facebook doesn’t work for me anymore – it is just one example of my habitual distractions. We each have our own. We each walk a different path.

May peace be with you.



“Good News” IRL

I had a way that I used to try to balance out all the upsetting and anxiety provoking news stories that came my way via my Facebook feed (after already eliminating newspapers and most television news.) I purposefully “followed” and subscribed to “good news” pages and sites.

In the beginning it was a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t just reading about acts of fear, oppression and violence, but also about “random” acts of kindness. A lot of great stories popped up; kids being inspired to take action to tackle local (and global) issues ranging from recycling, to feeding the hungry, to fundraising to help provide clean water to those in need. The first couple of stories about people picking up another person’s restaurant tab or grocery store bill were nice, too – they made me smile. Soon though, these stories seemed to be sidelined, or at least presented differently. More and more stories were popping up where people told of when they or their partner had done something considerate or kind. More frequently, too, was the presentation of photos and names of all involved parties – photos taken of the “unfortunate” person and thus the recipient of “selflessness”, “random” acts of kindness, or acts that “restore one’s faith in humanity.”

There were more stories turning up that were told by individual who carried out the act, too –¬† “hey, I bought this homeless guy pizza and he shared it with his homeless friend so I bought him another one, wasn’t he so selfless??” They appeared as self-aggrandizing posts that begged for people to affirm the individual’s kindness, while carefully trying to shrug off this impression my mentioning some positive quality of the other “receiving” party. It started to feel like the whole movement (if I can call it that) of Random Acts of Kindness was ceasing to be about quiet acts of gentle and genuine kindness, and more about promoting individual feelings of “I’m a good person because I did X.” It started to feel contrived and gaudy. It lost its magic.

Some pages and stories never lose their power or their ability to help one grow in curiosity, understanding and compassion. ‘Humans of New York’ is a great example of this (everyone as a story if only we take the time to listen) and kids taking on tasks as a result of great compassion or a sense of injustice is another one; they inspire me to want to be better and do better. Heck, even the stories of others paying or providing for a need without the now expected photographs and naming of all participating individuals are lovely. Unfortunately, these stories seemed to be becoming the minority.

I was becoming disillusioned with “good news” stories.

Fortunately, an unexpected thing happened when I opted out of Facebook. It had been there all along, but my attention to it was heightened. Every day, many times a day, in my suburb, in my city, in my street, these “good news” stories were happening right before my eyes. All I had to do was tune in. I found that I no longer needed them fed to me via a dedicated channel because I was surrounded by them the whole time, if only I cared to look. And once I started looking, I couldn’t stop seeing. It has been beautiful. There are no photographs, there is no kudos or reams of comments applauding those involved. There is just quiet kindness, simple gestures, and some deeper, less contrived display of empathy and compassion. Feeling good about being kind to others will often be a great motivator to keep doing more of the same, but when it becomes the primary motivator, it becomes… sad; the magic is lost.

Keep your eyes open for that magic – it is still there. May you smile as you notice it.



Leaving Facebook and Re-discovering Life

This post is mainly for my benefit. For those times that, out of habit, I type in the address for Facebook. My browser is programmed to block the site and re-directs to this post.

Reasons I chose to leave Facebook (again):

  1.  Facebook leaves me feeling unsettled and scattered. Not unsettled in terms of fear or worry about privacy (although these are genuine things to be concerned about) but more in a way that fundamentally changes my state of being. It leaves me feeling constantly on edge, overwhelmed by the influx of information. While allowing such a flow and constant feed of stimulation into my mind, I find it had to feel calm and settled.
  2. I want to learn how to keep things to myself. I don’t want to feed the need for constant sharing, approval, the need for others to tell me that I’ve done a great job. I want to foster my ability to share selectively and at other times to be able to sit quietly and smile at my own successes and accomplishments, without the need to broadcast them. When I manage to to this, it feels really good.
  3. Concentration. With so many distractions in this society of ours, I know that my concentration span has seriously decreased. My ability to sit with myself – even for five minutes – or to stay focused on a particular task has been shot to pieces. Allowing for boredom and what can grow out that is important to me. I want to slow down my mind. Removing Facebook from my day is just one way that enables me to cut down the habit of distraction and sets the scene for doing so in other areas. Multi-tasking is not good for my mental health.
  4. Connection. We’ve all heard this one – so many “friends,” so little non-cyber connection. Removing Facebook from my life forces me to reach out to people that I genuinely care about and to foster more meaningful and in-depth relationships. It also allows for conversations of discovery that move past the “oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook.” I, like most people, desire connection and community. I find non-Facebook related connection much more satisfying. When I desire such connection I find myself contacting friends directly via messenger, text, phone, postcards, letters and E-mails (I haven’t gone off-grid, just off Facebook.)
  5. I care about my friends but status updates can come to feel like junk-mail. I want to hear what people I care about are doing, how they’re traveling and what is going on in their lives, but I don’t want this to be in snippets that gives the illusion of deeper relationships or connectivity. Point four ties in with this.

What I’ve discovered (so far) since leaving Facebook (this time and previously):

  1. I am calmer. So much calmer.
  2. My ability to focus on individual tasks has increased and continues to do so.
  3. I make the effort to connect more in “real life.”
  4. A lot people that I have on Facebook fall away. My social circle shrinks, and yet at the same time feels richer. For me this has also been a lesson in letting go of relationships that both I and others have moved beyond. Life isn’t about holding on to every person we’ve connected with; it is un-sustainable.
  5. I do more things that I find satisfying; I take the time to fix things, to mend things, to spend time in my garden or play more music. I read my old Encyclopedia Britannica and love it. I Google articles and images but about things I’m interested in, not just things that come from a link following a link following a link.
  6. I miss out on articles or information that I enjoyed reading; quality pieces that friends have enjoyed and shared.
  7. I don’t actually miss the fainting goats or the elephants trying to sit on peoples laps or the cats sleeping in odd places.
  8. I go outside more.
  9. I make things more.
  10. I have to figure out how to entertain myself in other ways but when I do, I enjoy it more than the habitual checking (and refreshing and refreshing) of my “newsfeed.”
  11. I don’t miss the advertisements.
  12. My world has shrunk, and I like it that way.
  13. I don’t miss the countless petitions. Facebook activism is not the most satisfying kind for me.
  14. I miss out on finding about a countless events, a few of which I’d actually attend. This can be a huge downside, but for me, I’ve found it something that I’m willing to sacrifice.
  15. I can’t remember most peoples birthdays, but when I do they get a text of a card or a phone call instead of a wall post.

I feel more connected to life around me. To the birds and trees and grass. To my neighbours and friends and local community. To the people I spend time with in a “volunteer” capacity (or rather, the new friends I’m making and things that they are teaching me.) I feel more tuned in to life.

All these points are the reasons that I’m choosing Life without Facebook. I’m hoping I can keep it this way in the long rune, for my own benefit.