My Time in Detox
Facebook is my drug of choice, and I totally get why. As a would-be writer, it allows me to "publish" my thoughts and get instant feedback. "Likes" and comments feed my fragile writer ego and cater to my "Words of Affirmation" love language. I can actually feel myself get "high" on Facebook--really--and there is research to prove that I am not making this up. When I post something that gets numerous "likes," the dopamine hits my brain, which creates a kind of crazy need for more posting. I don't spend long stretches of time on Facebook (except when stuck in the car for over seven hours). However, I fully admit to being a Compulsive Checker and an Over-Poster. These are the behaviors that I knew I needed to curb.
The first step is admitting that you have a problem, and the next step is doing something about it. While on our 3,000 mile journey through the Deep South, I was in a Facebook Frenzy because I had so much material for status updates: Endless photo and check-in opps, not to mention the all-day car rides that were made bearable by the Facebook time-suck. I felt compelled to document our vacation for our friends and family via Facebook. At one point Jason looked at me and said, "I don't think you could survive without Facebook." Wait. Was that a challenge?
Like all good husbands and wives, we made a bet. I had to go a week without Facebook. If I won, then I could plan a date night (which now that I think about it was BAD negotiating on my part--I usually plan the date night movie and dinner anyway). If I lost, I would have to do ALL the laundry for three weeks (Jason helps tremendously with laundry--I'm a lucky girl). But this was not about what I won at the end--this was about proving that I COULD live without Facebook. For one week. Honestly, I didn't know if I could.
My Facebook Detox officially began on Friday night, July 13th (no, I did not realize the ominous date at the time). Of course, I posted one last status update to let my friends know that I had not fallen from the face of the earth, I would just be missing from their news feeds for a while. One friend suggested deactivating my account for the sake of accountability, so I took her advice and did it so that I would not be tempted to cheat. I could already feel the "shakes" coming on--seriously, I could feel a physiological change in my body--sweating, racing heart, that jittery creep of anxiety beginning to set in. When I went to deactivate my account, I got the Facebook Guilt page asking if I was SURE if I wanted to do this (like I was about to make some monumental mistake), and that all of my friends would miss me. Then individual pictures of each friend flashed before my eyes, naming them one-by-one and saying that each would miss me. That's when the absurdity of the whole thing really hit me. If these people truly missed me, then they could CALL me on the phone--or come see me in person--like have a real relationship with me. But face to face communication and phone conversations are so 1982.
So with my account deactivated and the Facebook apps erased on my phone and iPad, I went into Life-Without-Facebook mode for ten days. Here is a chronicle of what I did:
- The first two days were HARD. I guess you would call that the withdrawal. I kept picking up my phone and there were no notifications; I actually felt a bit depressed and disconnected from the world, which made me feel even more depressed that I was depressed (if that makes any sense at all). So I devoured a Nora Roberts book. Every time I felt the urge to check Facebook, I found solace in mindless chick lit. It got much easier as the days progressed, so much so that I actually contemplated staying off Facebook for good. Obviously, that idea didn't last long.
- I read A LOT. I finished that Nora Roberts book in three days, which is like warp reading speed for me. Not because it was compelling fiction but because I had TIME. I also finished The Book of Summers--mediocre, well-written chick lit with a brain. So I read two books in a week. That's a record for me. I also read the newspaper while enjoying my morning coffee instead of trolling Facebook.
- Other technologies filled the void of Facebook. This was not a technology-free fast (now THAT would be HARD), so I spent some time on Good Reads, and I caught up on my blog reading with the help of my neglected Google Reader.
- I played countless games of Uno with the girls.
- I took several afternoon naps--beautiful, precious time well-spent.
- I wrote a new blog entry.
- I went to dinner and a movie with my dear friend Tara without checking in on Facebook.
- Unfortunately, my closets did not benefit from this Detox. I still have a little summer left for cleaning...
- I started watching season 1 of Downton Abbey, which really deserves its own blog post. I think I have traded one addiction for another...Oh, and I found a great blog post from the Pioneer Woman about my new obsession.
Before I knew it, Friday rolled around and my terms of the bet had been met; I was free to jump back into the Facebook universe. But instead I challenged myself to extend the Detox. Honestly, last week was BORING. It was what we all needed after two and a half weeks of constant motion while visiting nine states. My family needed boredom to set in, and oh, did it ever. If I was on Facebook last week, I probably would have posted about my new Downton Abbey addiction and the beauty of an afternoon nap (thankfully, you were spared from those riveting posts). But the weekend was packed with plans and ripe with Status Update possibilities. We went to Camp Cho-Yeh in Livingston to visit Barbie; we met Emily and Tracie (and their families) for an impromptu dinner on Saturday night in Conroe; Sunday we drove to Allen for a "staycation" with my side of the family. All of these things provided perfect material for getting back on the Facebook horse. And that's why I stayed off. I wanted to prove to myself that I could enjoy my life without composing status updates in my head. And so that's what I did. But I can still post pictures of the FUN that was had by all on this blog because that is TOTALLY different.
|One last dinner with Tracie and Emily before Em moves to Indonesia. (sniff, sniff)|
|ALL of the kids together (minus one). We had a table for 13 at dinner. We were THOSE people.|
|We spent Sunday and Monday night with the Fleeners in Allen. The cousins had a blast!|
|Chicka bought glow sticks for the "staycation" and we had a dance party. We all agree it was the best.night.ever.|
What have I learned from this experience? Facebook is not the enemy; the key is how it is used. It is an outlet for my writing side--just like this blog, and it keeps me connected to so many people from all facets of my life. But like so much in life, it is all about balance. I will be more mindful about my time on Facebook because every minute that I spend on it takes a minute away from my family and other things that I love doing (reading, sleeping, running, writing). I have learned that I CAN live without Facebook, and so I will go on more FB Fasts more often. When I feel it taking control of me, then I know that I can deactivate my account and slip into Detox mode. It CAN be done because I did it for ten days. My life can be lived without Facebook. And maybe, just maybe, I live it a little better.