Monday, May 06, 2013

Published 1:28 PM by with 2 comments

"Goodbye, Facebook", Part 3

It's been a few months since I rejoined Facebook after a long sabbatical. Leaving Facebook was tough at first; I tried to cut back my internet usage in general, but Facebook was the main pull.

So I left it behind.

I still wrote emails, enjoyed keeping up with blogging, checked the news (although I'm doing that much less nowadays, after my near meltdown over the Boston bombing media coverage), and Google searched stuff every day. The computer didn't gather dust.

Yet when I closed off one major outlet of social communication, other opportunities to enjoy life seemed to open up.

I went out for coffee with friends. Had fun with Harmony. Played music and read books. Had late night conversations with Chris. The real world grew more tasteful, like eating an apple after eliminating sugar from your diet. It was refreshing. Life moved more slowly. I finally realized how addicted I had become to online interaction instead of real interaction. Yes, it was humbling. Addiction is hard to see until you begin to defeat it.

And you know what?

I missed Facebook.

My mind still wanted to quantify people, conversations, events, and random thoughts into "Facebook nuggets", condensing all aspects of my life into bite-sized posts. It was so convenient to think that I knew who a person was by their posts or pictures. Facebook made portraying my life as all rainbows and roses quite simple.

Real life is hard and messy and complicated. Especially as an adult who remembers living without an online presence (I was ten when we got internet for the first time, twelve before I learned how to actually use it well), I know the person I present on social media isn't the real me, it's just a part of who I am. Children and teens in our culture today already have a much more difficult time differentiating between who they are online and who they truly are on the inside. If it is detrimental to their development as whole, heart-healthy human beings, then who am I to think that I can escape the same fate?

After a while, I felt like Facebook no longer had a pull on me. The addiction had been broken. I knew that people had sent messages, invited me to events, and tried to contact me there, so after some initial reluctance, I finally went back.

What surprised me the most was how easy it was to fall back into old habits.

At first, I only checked messages and event invites and responded to chats from several groups I was part of. Then I'd catch myself scrolling through the newsfeed. Then I'd say, "just five more minutes". A half hour would go by. Then the quiet space of Harmony's entire nap time, usually devoted to accomplishing housework or writing, would be wasted on Facebook. That was what really made me stop and take note: I was once again WASTING time instead of using my time wisely or setting boundaries for myself.

Not everyone has such an addictive personality as I do. If you are one of those people who can sit down in front of the computer, casually browse for ten minutes, then leave and ignore the siren call of Facebook for the rest of the day, then I congratulate you! That is not who I am, unfortunately, much as I wish it was. I intentionally have to limit my screen access so that it doesn't take over my waking hours. That's why my phone is only for calling and texting, with no internet access, too.

Something as miniscule in the grand scheme of things as being sucked in to Facebook-Land may not seem very important, but for me, it was a small symptom of a greater negligence: that of not using the time I have been given for the best use. That's why I am testing out a new goal of limiting my computer time to when Harmony is either asleep or with someone else, so that when she is around, my attention isn't diverted. If I'm cooking,  cleaning, doing paperwork, reading, etc. and Harmony wants me, I always stop what I'm doing to help her. But if I'm on the computer, my reaction time to her is much more slow. And she's a smart cookie... now if she sees me sitting at the computer desk, she will often begin crying and come over to drag me away. Harmony knows how the shiny white screen can suck mama in to its depths.

It seems like I'm always trying to figure out how to prioritize my time. I guess I see life as being too short to squander the time we have been blessed with! If I wasn't so weak when it came to telling myself "no", then this wouldn't be so much of an issue. So now Facebook is at the bottom of the online list, below emails and writing. Online time is a lower priority than spending time with Chris or Harmony. And so on.

If you've read this far, then I'd like to say this: please don't let my own struggles make you feel guilty for anything. Everyone has their own personal battles, and this is a major one for me right now. Hopefully these new boundaries I've set will help me use my time carefully. I'll still be on Facebook, but I'll be on it much less.

There can be balance. There can be wholeness.

Life is a journey.



Cherie said...

Oh Alyssa, I feel your struggles. My "addiction" is crime shows on TV. Just want you to know your post has inspired me to turn it off, (yes I even watch while on my laptop) and use the time with which God has blessed me more wisely. I love your writing and find it insightful and inspiring. Whatever else you do, I hope you don't give that up.

mountain girl said...

I feel the same way about Facebook. It makes me sad to see moms at the playground on their phones instead of enjoying their kids. I wonder how many hours a day are being lost of precious time with our families. I think you're wise to back away from it!