Since leaving Facebook

It’s been awhile since I did a blog post, but I would say it’s safe to say I’m officially back, and before I launch into other more interesting topics I thought I would start with a little update on where I’m at in life, and how I’ve been feeling since leaving Facebook.

I am not sure how many of you know but I teach at a university where we are literally under a 9 month contract and so I do have the summer’s off.  Now that I am department chair it is not quite true, but summer is still a time where I tend to shut down from communication in general.  This summer it is a confluence of factors that have led me to disappear for awhile.  The respite, I feel, has overall been a benefit.

I guess I’ll start with my leaving Facebook.  I said a lot of things about how I thought it would benefit me.  An important piece of wisdom that I’ve gained later in life is that it is important to change things up, to get out of habits as best as possible.  Habitual behavior tends to be what makes time go by more quickly and also I think has diminishing returns for things that even initially made you feel good.  So I’ll start by saying that I certainly don’t regret leaving Facebook one bit if not simply for the sake of just seeing how life would change.  And there is no question in my mind that it was in fact a habit, and that there were some signs of addiction.

When I left Facebook I deleted the app from my phone, and I was shocked to find out how many times I would pick up my phone to get on Facebook, only to stare blankly at my phone at an app that wasn’t there, and it took me a couple of seconds to remember that I wasn’t on Facebook anymore.  Despite consciously knowing that I left, my unconscious movements to reach for my phone and look really gave me some insight as to how much time I spent checking Facebook.  This made me happier that I left, but there was still this feeling of frustration that I assume to be akin to withdrawal symptoms.  Fortunately, after a month or so this diminished.  I’m in a place now where I spend very little time on my phone.  Sometimes now I forget to look at it for entire half days.  I also find that I spend much more time looking for my phone (which is annoying) but I think this is because I am not always looking at it.  It’s hard to lose something you are checking frequently and always have near you.  I don’t like wasting time looking for my phone, but overall I’d say it’s not a bad thing that I am away from it enough to misplace it.

One thing I expected, that didn’t happen, was having extra time.  I think this can largely explained by having another child.  We’ve had a lot of family visiting as well, so things have been a little hectic at times over the summer.  I guess I do feel like I have had more time, but that time has been filled and so I woudn’t say that I have had more time to relax.  I will say that overall, I feel a better sense of fulfillment with what I spend my time doing, even if it isn’t always fun.  There is a solidity to life now that I have a hard time explaining clearly, but overall I like it.

I think it was pretty clear that when I left Facebook that I was experiencing some depression.  I didn’t think that Facebook was necessarily the cause of it, but I didn’t feel like it was helping me overcome it either, and if anything exacerbating it.  Having left Facebook I have to say there are still times that I feel depressed about where our society, particularly in America, is going and I’m not sure how to make that go away.  I mean I could simply choose to be more optimistic and focus on that, but I somehow worry that this will make me less vigilant.  I feel this is a time for vigilance.  You can of course be so depressed to the point of apathy, but I think you can also be to cheerful and optimistic to the point of ignorance.  Neither of those are where I want to be.  Trying to find a state of mind that makes me feel strong without depression but without some sort of drug-like optimism is challenging.  Overall though I would say that leaving Facebook has helped me compartmentalize better, has allowed me to say, “Alright right now I have to focus on this…” and I am able to do so. There are times that I spend worrying as well, but I don’t think I do it as much, and sometimes I feel like I am able to filter out the noise much better and really think about, even some of the bad things, in a meaningful and deeper way.  This is something that I hoped for leaving Facebook.  The biggest thing for me is how noisy life felt and that I really couldn’t think deeply about things very well.  So maybe I’m not free completely from the state of mind I was in before, but I feel like I am progressing, and that is something.  Facebook seemed like a fairly endless stream of bad news, and people fighting, and being free from that, as often as I was on it, has been restful…peaceful…and given me more moments of contentedness.

There were many people who felt like was bashing Facebook when I left (there are reasons to be concerned of course about Facebook’s ethics) but my leaving was more a reflection of my personal relationship to it.  It wasn’t healthy for me, and I still maintain that can be used beneficially.  I know many people who aren’t on Facebook who are still as confused about facts from the media they consume, and so I certainly don’t see it as a soul source of how we can be misled in our society.  There is a larger problem with all sorts of media which has been discussed by ethicists like Tristan Harris on the “attention economy“.  This is something we all have to be mindful of, and getting off Facebook is no solution there.  The important thing to recognize also is that we are all being unconsciously influenced by the media we consume, and it’s important to be aware of that and be aware of how that’s affecting your life.  Think seriously about it all, weigh the pros and cons, and ask yourself are you as happy, courageous, and effective as you can be being plugged in all the time.  In a podcast I listened to recently a doctor was saying how boring the message of moderation is, and yet it’s probably the one we should be hearing the most.

My world has certainly gotten smaller, but I think there is just as much value at making the 10 mile radius around you a better place as trying to make the world a better place.  Moving the world requires a much greater force, and as an individual I constantly feel like I am inadequate to the task, and Facebook was a constant reminder of that fact, just as it was also a constant reminder of all the things that we need to make better in this world.  It’s important to know all of that, but it’s also important to recognize your limits.

There is much that I miss too, I knew this would be the case.  I wonder how a lot of the good people I got to know on Facebook, and think of them often.  But I have gotten to interact with more friends and people in my community than before.  There are a lot of people in my city who probably have quite different political views from me, but I haven’t talked politics with them, but I am getting to know them, and I haven’t met a bad person yet.  Maybe they voted for Trump, or maybe they are very religious, or maybe they have no problem with guns…I don’t know, but I think it’s important that we really get to know people first before judge the entirety of their being based on who they voted for, or what they believe.  There’s much more humanity there that I think we miss on social media.  There’s value in understanding where people are really coming from and recognizing their common humanity.  There may come a day when the truth of our political views comes out, but maybe then it will be a better conversation, maybe then there own beliefs will be as challenged as mine our and maybe even if we can’t be friends we walk away being better people than we were.  I don’t think this is possible on Facebook as we just tend to get to know the people who agree with us, and fight with the ones we don’t.

Well this is already a bit long, but I just want to say that, at best I can say that I am spending more time with my children and more time just enjoying a breath of fresh air.  I think that I will one day be able to return to Facebook and use it in a better way, but I don’t think I’m there yet.  I am thankful for all the good people I know and have known in this world even if there isn’t enough time to stay in touch as frequently as I’d like.  I wish all the best.

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29 thoughts on “Since leaving Facebook

  1. I’ve been Facebook free for about 4 months. Wife too. Life is better without it so Congratulations. FB sucked us in and soon things you don’t give a rats-ass about become important. Welcome back. And thanks Pink. You help a lot with that.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. As somebody who like technology and new things, I was excited at first. It was much different in the vanilla days. People just sort of posted pictures and gave status updates like “I’m eating spaghetti right now”. So for me it was a time suck that built slowly over time. I would say that I was good at keeping a friends list that posted things that I do care about. But seeing 100 posts about a mass murder, or some human rights violations, just takes it’s emotional toll.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I avoided Facebook in the first place (as A GWOT–Giant Waste of Time) but I opened an account because I had some people who wanted to share some things with me that way. I used it not much at all but I did use it as a way to “log onto” other sites and soon I found that Facebook had created a profile of me that was quite detailed, from just that paucity of data. So, I deleted all of my info and my account (I hope, they lie like a rug. I suspect they still have my data squirreled away even though I followed their procedure for permanent deletion.)

    As one who also taught at college, I suggest you use different phraseology with regard to your summers. We are used to saying we got “summer’s off” which sounds like what the students get to other people. They think, “What a cushy job; they only have to work nine months a year.” In actuality we get “laid off” for three months per year. We are seasonal workers, high-priced, but seasonal even so. We do not get paid for not working. Those months are not “paid.” As evidence, if we can pick up a teaching assignment over the summer, It is almost always at much lower wages (but wages nonetheless as we are not receiving wages for the work we are not doing).

    Sorry of the rant. Glad to have you “back.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Point taken Steve. Sadly the language we do use here matters even though it shouldn’t. There are plenty of professors who of course work year round at their institution given the demands of research and publication, but in either scenario the missing piece is the amount of expertise required for such a job and the value of education in general to a society.

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  3. Swarn, glad to hear that you’ve successfully made the break from Facebook. I agree when you say that “it’s important that we really get to know people first before judge the entirety of their being based on who they voted for, or what they believe.”

    In my day-to-day contact with neighbors and strangers in public spaces, I avoid letting my personal beliefs and political preferences interfere with our interaction. Right now, there’s just too much hate spewing to the surface. More than ever before, we live in a world where our survival as a species will depend upon our capacity to work together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rosaliene. I think it’s true to say that most people don’t come from a place of pure hate. It’s more often than not ignorance, but sometimes (if not most of the time) it’s not facts and figures that overcome that ignorance, but recognizing the humanity in those who have different points of view. I think there is a place for facts, because thinking about things in a critical and robust way is important, but the emotional foundation is more important.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome back to blogging and WordPress Swarn!!! I am off of FB; have been for about 3-mons. I think it is VERY HEALTHY to avoid it all together or at least take long breaks from it for reasons you’ve mentioned here. Well done on ya! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Fortunately, Facebook has never gotten its hooks in me. I generally check it once a day … mostly in the evenings when nothing is on TV that I want to watch. Since I only have a couple of “friends” that post regularly, it doesn’t take much time to catch-up. And the political stuff is pretty much “old hat” since I’ve already read most news reports throughout the day.

    If I’m “addicted” to anything, it’s blog postings and comments. But for me at my age — with kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids many miles away — blogs are a source of conversation with “friends” (and sometimes enemies). However, I do hesitate to admit … if my internet were to go down, I would probably experience some pangs of withdrawal. 😝

    I guess we all have our crosses to bear. ✝✝✝

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m much lighter of foot without Facebook. I think some people get just as attached to Twitter, but I don’t find Twitter at all life-sucking — then again I rarely use it.

    We’re at a stage where society is finding its feet so far as social media goes, and guinea pigs often get the sharp end of the stick. Twenty years or so ago and before we were limited to such a small cache of people, and of those one had to ring them or write a letter, or meet to find out their thoughts, their loves, their hates. Here we are today able to tap into thousands upon thousands — not just people we have known for many years, but a whole tub and a half of strangers all bleating on about something or another loudly. Some voices are interesting and useful and will enrich our lives considerably, most fill our heads and eyes with a kind of numbing fluid that drags us back again and again through habit and boredom.

    We should monitor our use of social media, be vigilant and aware — choose the kind of guinea pig you want to be.

    – Esme Cloud pleased to hear Swarn is feeling better and enjoying all his wee kiddiwinks too

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree with you Esme. I have also had the same thought, that social media is this new thing that we still haven’t figured how to use effectively to suit a better future. The only thing I worry about is how easily it can be used as a tool for manipulation through data mining. I can only hope the counter-current is strong enough to think about these things better. I hope that more and more schools are talking about social media in the classroom and having honest discussions about its merits and pitfalls. Awareness I think is the most important thing we can do since the technology is certainly not going away.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Welcome to my world, if only a touch-in. Is that my Phone ringing?! Then by the time I locate it, the call has terminated. As for FB, I’m a sporadic user, and scroll right by most of its content to single out those in my community who are likewise private people. I use it mostly to share my Instagram photos, one per day when I can. This is new, but keeps me connected with a desire to contribute natural beauty in this fractious world. Congrats on discovering some precious recovered inner sanctum. Bravo, Swarn. 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

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