Normally, at the beginning of a new year, folks are into their new routines. For most, it's an exercise regimen, or perhaps a new diet program. Maybe they've given up smoking, or drinking. I have one friend who, upon the onset of a new year, they start their "Pura Vida" lifestyle. Only "good things" will go into his body, and only positive thoughts into his mind. I had no such thoughts this year. I had a fleeting vision that I would do all of that. Diet, lose weight, get back to walking every day. That thought came and went as fast as my first martini of 2016.
What I did do, however, is leave Facebook. Without fanfare. I didn't make a grand announcement of my retreat. I just pressed the "deactivate my account" button on New Year's Day and walked away. Today is day 6. On Day 1, a dear friend texted me to let me know he noticed. What I found so funny about that is that this friend is not an everyday FB user. He occasionally posts his beautiful photos with words of inspiration. I love seeing them. His posts are meaningful. He doesn't post drivel. He doesn't post pictures of his food. He doesn't post stupid articles about movies or celebrity gossip. He doesn't post pictures of abused animals or children. He doesn't post about his exotic vacations, his new cars, his vacation homes. His posts are without a dollar sign attached, or any hint of braggadocio. He doesn't get caught up in the silliness of whining for attention, or "Vaguebooking". He's a decade younger than me, but far more wise, far more healthy (both spiritually and mentally), and I always joke with him how when I "grow up" I want to be just like him. The fact that he even noticed my departure touched me. We don't see each other in our 3D world, in fact, we met 20 years ago online, and in that time, we've actually laid eyes on one another only 5 times at most. Yet here he was the one who immediately texted me and said he noticed. We have this "thing", we sense a disturbance in the force in each other's worlds, if you will. But the truth of the matter is, we were friends long before FB and we will be friends long after.
Believe me, this isn't easy. I'm one of those people who likes to be "connected". I love social interaction. I really love people. Not all people, mind you. But I do love the sense of belonging. I spent most of my working career being an at-home mom. With the onset of the computer age, and home computers becoming the norm, the interwebs were, at times, my only social contact when my kids were tiny. I connected with other people, they touched my life, watched my children grow up, and hopefully, in return, I touched their lives as well. This blog was my savior. It was a sweet time, but as all sweet times go, it would end when FB arrived on the scene. Of course, all of my blog buddies are still my FB friends. But something changed. Everything changes. The Blogosphere became "old news" and "old fashioned". The family of bloggers retreated, running like rats from a sinking ship to their waiting rescue craft; Facebook. Instant gratification. Constant movement. A grandstand full of audience members vying for Drew Carey's attention on Let's Make A Deal. Jumping up and down and waving a new post; "Here! Here! Look at me! Pick me! I have the best this, I have the best that, I have, I am, I do, I matter!"
FB is invasive. It's a scrolling cancer. It lets you see too much. Too much politics. Too much religion. Too much materialism. Too much. For someone who is compulsive, sensitive, tenderhearted, and tends to fall easily into depression, it is dangerous. My husband has been patient, and good-natured about it. Sometimes, I have been guilty of having my nose in my phone when I shouldn't. Ironically, while I have flesh and blood people around me to visit with, I have been peeking into other people's open windows on FB and ignoring who I'm with. That is a complete embarrassment to someone who didn't allow her children to answer their phone or even have their phones out when we are visiting with people. Before cell phones, we sat at the dinner table and talked. If the house phone rang during meals, we did not answer. Now, with mobiles and social media, all signs of proper etiquette have been bludgeoned to death.
Everywhere I look, I see parents with young children sitting in cafes, or at the park. Lovely? Well, it would be if the parents weren't nose deep in their phones while their child sits across the table from them trying to get their attention. Or yelling from the playground for their parent to come play while they, instead, sit on the bench looking at their phones. Even worse, now if you go into a restaurant you see WHOLE FAMILIES around a table, every single one of them nose-deep in their phones. No interaction with one another, only with what is going on "out there". It's heartbreaking really. My kids were in college when FB came to being. Back then, it was ONLY for college kids. You had to have a verified school email address to sign up. When they opened it up to the masses, manners became a thing of the past. I admit, with sadness, that I am guilty.
I know people on FB who probably post 3 or 4 times an hour. Everything they're doing, everything they're seeing, everything they're eating, and so on. There are people who are constantly posting who they're with and every second of what they're doing with who they're with. I often wonder how the "who they're withs" feel when that person is constantly on their phone posting to FB. How do you fully enjoy the moments of BEING with those people if you are thinking "Oh! I need to post this picture!" or "Hey! I need to check in!" Again, guilty. Ashamed and guilty.
So, Day 6. Yes, I am having severe withdrawals. Yes, I sickeningly wonder if anyone misses me. Yes, I feel a bit lost and lonely. And yes, I find that I feel all these things a bit sad. But on the other side, I almost feel introspective. I feel like I hear my "voice" coming back to me. I feel like I want to write again. This is hard. Especially when really, your life is just pretty quiet. Work, home, work, home, occasional social interaction. FB tends to make people like me "exaggerate". Oh look! I have exciting things happening too....see? Let me post it so it seems like I'm special. You can easily get lost in the old "keeping up with the Joneses" game. It isn't easy to step away from the game board. But I have to try.