Tomorrow starts a little experiment to see what it feels like, after 6 years on Facebook, to take a break.
I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that a website has me thinking myself in circles, but there it is. And I suspect I’m not the only one to be thrown by how ingrained this particular piece of social media has become in my public and inner world.
The notion has been on my mind for a while, but there always seemed to be so many good reasons not to take a break, among them:
- I’m a stay-at-home mom. There are days (sometimes 2) I don’t leave the house, much less see anyone outside my immediate family (and let’s face it, most of my favorite people live an hour or 2 away, minimum). Giving up Facebook seemed a possible ticket to more potent loneliness.
- I’m sensitive and easily feel awkward/overwhelmed in most social situations — but I’m still an extrovert who wants a sense of connection. I’ve been surprised at how I’ve stumbled into some kindreds via Facebook and didn’t want to give up that connection and mutual support.
- It’s fun keeping my family knee-deep in updates and photos of the boys.
- I enjoy being knee-deep in photos of my friends and their families and living a little vicariously through their adventures.
- The journal-keeping aspect of FB is amazing. There’s this long, detailed record of what we were doing during a given year. Especially since the kids came, that record is kind of priceless.
All those things are wonderful, but for me they come at a cost.
- Connection is constant, but it’s cheap. On the one hand, we are always caught up with one another. On the other hand, we are always. caught. up. with. one. another. Example: “Hey, did I tell you about such and such?” “Oh, yeah, I saw that on FB.” End of conversation. It ruins the face to face stuff sometimes.
- I strive to be honest and authentic but immediately after sharing, I often worry about how I come off. This has been a problem for me in real life too, as long as I can remember. If I share the good stuff, I wonder if it’ll discourage someone who’s having a crap time. If I share the tough stuff, I worry that I’m that needy Debbie Downer, out for attention and sympathy. I don’t need help overthinking things — social media put it into overdrive.
- The audience is WAY too big. Filtering takes energy and culling the herd hurts feelings. I wanted connection but felt exposed.
- Despite my efforts, I’ve made an arse of myself more times than I care to admit while discussing charged topics, especially in conversations with my conservative church friends. More than once, I’ve thought, Who needs this added stress?
- I worry all the time that I’m over-posting. “Enough! We get it! You are obsessed with your kids, which, let’s face it, are simply average, normal kids!”
- Holy time-suck.
- I write less. It’s much easier to write a status update than an essay and so I let myself off the hook a lot. It’s like I want to fill my brain with writing inspiration/blog fodder/what-have-you, but there’s no stopper in the drain.
It’s changed my lens on the world and on myself. So embarrassing to admit, but there are days I think in status updates. Funny moment? Time to share it. Look at the cute kids! Let’s post a picture (where the dirty laundry is moved just out of frame).
I’m never quite in the moment because I’m trying my hardest to somehow capture it — at its best angle, even. I’m all for writing down the good stuff and hope to do more of that here, but the immediacy of Facebook — the instant-share — it steals the ability to savor the moment. And then the moment is gone.
It brings to mind an early John Mayer song (Isn’t that somehow a fitting way to end this holy disaster of a post? I don’t care. I love John Mayer songs FOREVER.)
I’m writing you to
catch you up on places I’ve been
And you have this letter
you probably got excited, but there’s nothing else inside it
Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
in the mood to lose my way with words
Today I finally overcame
tryin’ to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m in the mood to
lose my way but let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You’ll be with me next time I go outside
no more 3×5’s
We’ll see how the break goes. I’m hoping for a little inner quiet, some better conversations, more writing, a little less over-thinking. I’ll keep you posted.