Soon after the presidential inauguration, I banned myself from social media primarily Facebook. I was becoming one of “them.”
I was addicted to Facebook. Checking, scrolling, posting, rebutting, prowling…. Wasting precious time actually doing something constructive, productive, healthy….
In addition, I was becoming angrier, anxious, intolerant, haughty, and just not a very nice person internally, mentally, and spiritually.
I had become one of “them.”
While I rarely commented on someone’s wall about their political, social, or religious posts. I did debate and rebut on comments made on my similar posts. The badgering and what I thought at times, outright idiocy of some of my friends or family’s posts was causing me to be someone I did not like.
My Facebook philosophy has always been that a person can post whatever they want on their wall. I can choose to acknowledge it or just keep scrolling. I would never berate someone for their opinion or what they would share irrespective of my opinion. I had one family member continuously post on my feed or telephone me to tell me I should delete a comment I posted although it had nothing to do with her. I have had other friends badger me relentlessly on political posts and scream “fake news!”
So, I stopped. I barred myself from Facebook.
It was difficult for the first few weeks not to continuously look at my iPhone or iPad to see what was happening on Facebook and the news feeds. But eventually, I weaned myself off almost completely. I say, almost, because I would sometimes peek at Facebook. There were even a few times I wanted to share a news topic, but in the end, I would cancel posting it.
Even though I had over the course of the last several months change my Facebook notifications to not see certain family and friend’s annoying posts, I took a step further an unfriended a few them.
“Unfriending” was a difficult decision.
Why was I unfriending them?
I wanted to be sure of my motive for unfriending. Had I become intolerant of opposing points of view? I hoped not. It is those types of opposing view discussions that can lead to understanding whether in the end, we agree to disagree, we can somehow imagine ourselves wearing another’s shoes for the benefit of trying to see their view.
I determined the reason for the unfriending was the style of the discussion. The constant badgering of my opinion, substantiated or not. Sometimes opinions are based upon gut feelings, spiritual leanings, and simply this is how I choose to live my life. Not out of ignorance, but a compilation of education, life experience, and goals. I’m sorry. I don’t always have a well-substantiated, corroborating article to support my opinion. Because that is what it is – an opinion. But I can discuss it reasonably if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, the constant badgering and sometimes name-calling, are not conducive to a productive discussion. It’s okay to agree to disagree – at least in my shoes.
So, I unfriended those that didn’t seem to grasp the ability to have discussions without badgering me on my posts. I did not unfriend them from life just on Facebook. There is a difference. A difference I came to accept. Others were unfriended only because we never communicated with each other at all but simply wanted to connect. I’m into relationships, not connections. Connections are for LinkedIn not my personal life.
To those of whom have unfriended me, I say, “Thank you.”
Regaining time, sanity, and productivity
Since I wasn’t spending all my time looking, posting, and debating on Facebook, I began to feel less angry and anxious. I looked forward to my new found free time to getting back to doing things I kept telling myself, “I wish I had time to….”
I began writing every morning outside of my normal journal writing. Immediately, I felt my creative-self begin to inhabit my mind, body, and spirit once again.
In addition, I began re-reading classics and reading contemporary works, such as:
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
The Greatest Miracle in the World, Og Mandino
The Complete Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway, and Ernest Hemingway on Writing
Emily Dickenson’s Poems as She Preserved Them (LOVED IT!)
Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mother of Sorrows, by Richard McCann (Exquisite prose. Highly recommend this book!)
The Rose Field Guide to Prose Poetry, Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice
The Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens
Social Media Behavior Modification
I am easing my way back into social media, particularly, Facebook. But I am reminded of keeping in control of what it is I can control – my behavior. I highly recommend the self-induced behavior modification for anything that keeps you leading a contented day-to-day existence.
Political and Activist Posts
The presidential election, which is a 4-year, not a 2-year process, was the worst in this 56 year-old’s memory. It really brought out the worst in people (and in me), and continues to do so. I am a conservative independent voter. I vote on who I believe is the most qualified and credible candidates irrespective of elective office. I belong to no political or activist parties.
I voted Libertarian in the last presidential election. Some Facebook friends admonished me for putting my head in the sand, or worse, handing the election over to Trump because I live in Michigan. After much investigation into all the party candidates, I couldn’t vote for either the Republican or Democratic nominee. I admit I wasn’t totally committed to the Libertarian candidate and didn’t think he had a prayer to win the election, however, I am committed to seeing a meaningful third party enter into future elections.
I can control only what is in my control. I can’t commit that I won’t in the future post something political on my Facebook wall, but I will be more mindful of what it is I do post. I will delete comments that are harassing, demeaning, or badgering. Posters can think what they want to think of my tolerance. So be it.
Although some may think I am keeping my head in the sand with regard to the country and world events, far from it. I have been directing my thoughts to those who represent me on the local, state, and federal levels. Just as in business, go to the decision maker because no one else has the power to make a change – certainly not my Facebook friends and family. Be assured, I have been emailing, posting, and tweeting on the appropriate feeds to let my elected officials know exactly my opinion and how my vote may sway in the next election cycle.
Keeping it Real
I am a mom of two college students. Granted, this proud mom will share mom boast posts from time to time for family near and far. Of course, I will continue to post the antics of my two fur-kids, Barkley and Penny because they seem to get the most “likes” on my Facebook wall. I also can’t leave out the woes and wonders of being an empty-nester with my beloved, Vinny Sal.
My personal Facebook page is a pathway to maintain relationships with my friends and family. Period. Going forward I will not be the person who camps out on the social media sofa for the night and ends up over-staying my welcome for weeks at a time.
My self-induced social media, behavior modification sabbatical helped me to realize that I do have time to read, write, and more importantly, live a sane life living off the electronic grid.