I have an ‘addictive personality.’ If I like something, if something makes me feel good, chances are I’m going to push that button every 5 minutes. My time as a smoker consisted of me counting down the seconds til my next hit. Same with drinking. Same with drugs and coffee and Farmville and Skyrim. Same with sugar and especially fat/salt/sugar combos. Same with the internet. And, naturally, same with facebook. Usually, if there are terrible consequences, be it searing heartburn, aggro behavior, loss of control, or heart-rate through the roof, I will take a step back. Try to ease up on it, and if that doesn’t work, quit for a while. Maybe forever.
So that’s what happened with facebook. I tried to stop using it about a year ago, I think I lasted a whole day, maybe it was a week. This time it’s different. It’s a medical necessity. My friend and I went for a walk yesterday and she told me about how she just de-activated her account for 2 weeks, then felt like it was OK to come back. The bad-habit of checking constantly had been broken. She returned refreshed with more real-life connections. The idea I don’t have to quit forever, I could just quit for a planned time, appealed to me.
For a few weeks now I’ve been saying I want to quit, I need to quit, I wish I could quit facebook, but I can’t. I’m too weak, I need it too much, thinks me. Friends are suggesting I step away from it, some of the same friends who suggested I cool it with the drinking. Every time a friend sees me, I’m super upset and my heart is racing over something that happened on FB. I get in fights on there all the time when someone makes a comment I construe as hateful or condescending. Even the most well-meaning friends piss me off with an offhand picture of booze, swooning over a new microbrew, or mentioning getting drunk around their kids.
Also, I’m working on lowering my boundaries, becoming nicer, more vulnerable, more empathetic to all. Feeling more pain and joy. To read the kind of hate-or-fear-based chatter that gets said on FB (or most forums/youtube comments/etc etc) all day every day is BREAKING MY FLIPPING HEART. I can’t stand it. A million times a day I feel I have to stand up for what I see as right. It’s like standing in Times Square trying to communicate with everyone, all the time. It reminds me of when Sookie Stackhouse had a meltdown on “True Blood” because her psychic powers were making so she heard all the thoughts of everyone in the diner, and it was too much to bear.
I think some people like to argue, not me. By nature I’m non-confrontational, fight-or-flight, and people-pleasing, I’ve lost every argument I’ve ever been in. But eventually I get SO frustrated at not getting my point across, I get suuper mean and go right for the jugular. And oh I am so, so good at being mean. I can rip a friend’s heart out irrevocably in a matter of seconds. But I don’t want to live that way, to be that person. Therefore I avoid arguments. I leave it to all other good folk to try to talk their fellows out of unproductive and/or hateful beliefs. I wish to express my point and beliefs and world views in posts and art works, I want to save my energy for positive, productive things. I don’t mind chewing the fat on the ills of the world, but damned if I’m going to have another panic attack over something someone posted online.
I only quit FB about 5 hours ago. I’ll be proud of myself if I make it past the weekend without re-activating my account. After all that’s a big source of my artistic marketing, my social life, my connections to friends who have moved away. Ideally it will be a whole two weeks, and maybe I’ll surprise myself and never return. Here’s the difference I notice already:
Peace and quiet. No chattering voices in my head.
No things I feel compelled to read even though I know better.
No things I feel compelled to reply to, even though I know better.
No guilt over saying something stupid/unproductive/TMI
No thinking about the people I haven’t blocked yet but have removed as friends reading everything I write on mutual friends pages
I’m taking some brainspace back from the collective. I have a feeling I’m going to be more productive. I’ve already seen a gagillion less ads because DAMN I had a ton of annoying ads in my feed added in the past few weeks. I don’t have to be notified of comments by people I never wish to think about but feel too guilty to express that by removing them. I’m very selective in my social life because I do have a hard time saying no and sticking up for myself, I like my friends to be empathetic and able to read me. A million voices have been suddenly silenced. If they need to get a hold of me, it’s not hard.