Anyone who knows me could probably tell you this, but… I have a social media problem.
I’m highly (or hyper) active on social media, specifically Facebook. I have both a personal and professional presence there. I have over 500 people in my personal feed. I obviously can’t keep up with all of them, but I post frequently and skim through the feed for things that might be interesting. I hit it when I’m bored. I hit it out of habit. I check in too often when I could best be pointing my focus elsewhere. It’s a constant distraction.
And a constant irritation.
For the past year it’s fed me news about the election. Which, without getting on either side of the political fence, is nerve wracking. The echo chamber got real loud, and so did the comment posts. People on both sides were branding their pitchforks and torches. It was unpleasant. Adding it to a longer list of stressors was making for a difficult situation. Something I started to use as something to connect me to others was showing me sides of personalities that I never wanted to know. I think different about some of the folks after hearing them go off on their own soapboxes. I did my best to stay out of these frays, though sometimes I got sucked in. Sometimes it wasn’t about politics either. There was negativity on everything.
So, I have opted to pull out the plug on my Facebook account for a while. At least on the personal side. I’ll still need it for my writing stuff. I’ll also need LinkedIn and Twitter for work, but I so very rarely find that Twitter is an everyday thing, and LinkedIn is mostly used for research.
The results of the pull back in the past thirty-odd hours (almost a week at time of update) has been interesting. I’ve found that the things I’ve been sharing are generally unimportant. I’ll see something happen and my first instinct is to post about it. When I go to my phone to do it and the icon for Facebook is gone… there’s this jarring sensation and I realize: I have reclaimed a minute of my life. I’m not tapping at the facepane of the phone, I’m going about my day.
How much time have I lost?
Another thing though I note is how much of it is just habitual. My basal ganglia tells me whenever I have a good thought that the next step is to broadcast it. It’s incredibly hard to slap that down. And even as I have the thought of not posting, the next thought that comes up is that I should post about not posting. Let that sink in.
My brain is a jerk.
The best thing though that I think I ever did was taking the app off my phone. I still go to access it, again, as an entrenched behavior. Already, I’ve had a dozen times where I reflexively open the folder on my iPhone and click the space where it used to be (which is now Twitter, tied to my work profile). Twitter usually feels like Facebook Lite, so I feel almost no draw to use it apart from promoting work. I think that the more I get away from just having it at a moment’s notice, the more of my life I’ll get back.
Of course, I’m saying this as I send out a blog post. So, who knows.