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Social Media Blackout

This past week I decided to take a “productivity break” from Facebook. While I do have accounts with a couple other social media platforms my social media time is mainly spent on Facebook. Now while I can’t really tell you the amount I spend per week on Facebook, I know it’s not insignificant. I am sure that there are people who spend much more time on social media than I do, but basically if my sons needs are met and I don’t have anything that needs my immediate attention, I check Facebook. Since my typical excuse for dragging my feet with starting this blog was “ I do not have the time” I decided to make the time. If I had time to scroll, I had time to write.

This was my first hands on experience with a Facebook break. I have known of a few people on my friends list who take a break from time to time. This is usually prefaced by a post stating they'll be taking a break, and then maybe a short explanation of why. From what I have noticed when I see one of these posts, it is usually due to some sort of personal issue going on in this person's life and them either needing to isolate themselves to work it out, or they are trying to avoid some negativity filling their news feed for a while. Now, I can understand this sentiment. But in the past I have never really felt the need to do this. I have a pretty hard and fast rule not to add anyone I do not actually know in person. Which really keeps the negativity down to a minimum. While I do see posts from people that have different worldviews then myself, the fact that I know or at least knew these people in real life allows it to not get as bothersome when something is posted that might be negative on whatever level. I also don’t typically add people due to any obligation. I come from a very big, highly dysfunctional bordering on delusional extended family. 95% of these people are not on my friends list. Which also cuts down on the negativity significantly. So I have never felt that sort of need to take a break. But what I learned from this experience was kind of surprising.

I started out last Sunday night by making my explanation post, saying I would be back in a week. Then Monday morning I temporarily deactivated my account to avoid those all too tempting and distracting notification dings. Because this was my first experience with this I didn’t realize that this makes it look like I have in fact deleted my account, and made that explanation post disappear. Day one and two were basically me feeling an almost withdrawal. I kept finding myself absentmindedly opening Facebook on my phone and it asking me if I wanted to reactivate. I kept finding myself making excuses to myself. “Well, I don’t have to stay away all week, this was just to get me to start my blog.” “ I could always just reactivate on Friday, a work week is still a week” “No one else really cares if I don’t actually stay away a whole week.” I realized I had become strangely addicted to this stupid thing. Almost dependent. I didn't know what to do, especially after my son and husband had gone to bed and I wasn’t quite ready for bed. Especially when taking a writing break. As I haven’t actually written very much in the years since my son was born, I am a bit rusty and find myself hitting a wall rather often. So I spent a lot of time pinning recipes on Pinterest during this time. Honestly I will probably never make half of them, but I have a lot of choices now. If you are looking for any interesting Lebanese recipes, hit me up.

By day three I wasn’t opening Facebook anymore, and was basically out of that weird withdrawal. I did however end up having to reactivate my account. I had received more than a couple texts and phone calls from concerned friends and family who didn't see my explanation post, asking if everyone was okay as I had dropped of the platform. These people checking in with me to make sure everything was okay surprised me a bit. No one really checks in with the people in their lives anymore. They don’t really need to when you are making daily posts. It made me feel good to know my friends care enough to ask. But it’s kind of interesting that everyone's first reaction was to think something was wrong. Could be because like me their experiences with people taking a break from a social media platform is because something is wrong. Or it could just be because having a social media account has become so status quo that if someone gets rid of it, even temporarily, it’s considered odd. So I did activate, because I didn’t want to worry any more of my friends.

Now dear reader, I am going to be honest with you, days five and six I did cheat a little. I clicked on three notifications over these two days. Two were posts from my son’s teacher on his preschool’s page. He goes to school on Thursday and Friday and they always post pictures from the day. So I wanted to see pictures of my son’s day, sue me. The other was a notification that one of the members of the book club I am a part of posted on our book club’s Facebook page. There has been some question about the location for this months meeting and I wanted to see the final decision. Which really goes far to show you how connected our lives are to social media. It’s where we notify everyone about everything. If I didn’t want to miss out on this information, I had to check it. Which is kind of an asset really. You can so quickly let everyone know everything that needs to be or you want to be known with a simple click of the post button.

Day six and today, day seven, I have been kind of reflecting on everything I experienced this week, and feel I have learned a lot. While social media is a way to stay connected with everything around you, it’s just not the same as having real conversations. While I have come to the relation in the last couple years that despite my introverted ways, awkwardness and social anxiety at my exterior, I am a highly social person. Without social interaction I feel very lonely and depressed, just like a majority of you I am sure. But I truly learned this week that no matter how much we want it to be, social media is not a replacement. Sure it’s easier and more convenient, but it’s far from the same. I actually had conversations with friends this week, not just comment section conversations. I reached out to someone this week whom was once the person I called my best friend. Our relationship got a little bit distant because I moved to a different state and then it took kind of a hit this past year due to a particular situation. While we had for the most part gotten over it, we were commenting on posts of each others again, we were still fractured. But I sent her a message and we spent a long time texting back and forth, catching and and truly apologizing for what had happened. Before when I would think of her, I would go to her page, and comment on a post, but I didn’t have that option this week. So we had an actual conversation. Social media kind of allows us not to have the hard conversation. We get mad, and to make up all we have to do is comment something nice on a post and suddenly, you guess you are made up. But you really need to have those conversations. It will take a few more real conversations, but I am sure her and I can get back to a good place if we put in the work.

I originally thought this break would have meant nothing to me, certainly hadn’t planned on writing about it. But I learned a lot this week. While I do plan on returning to Facebook tomorrow morning, and am a little ashamed to admit to you that I am in fact looking forward to it, I am going to make it a point to not spend as much time on it. I am going to actually have real conversations with my friends again each week, and I urge you to do the same. Social media will never be a replacement for true social interaction. We only post our greatest hits. There are even companies now that you can pay to photoshop you into pictures of breathtaking landscapes so you can post them on your pages to make it look like you travel and live this amazing life. We are hardly ever open and vulnerable with what is actually going on in our lives. We compare ourselves to what we see in our news feeds. When in reality everything you see is put through a filter. So reach out to those you care about, find out their real story and tell them yours. We can not keep torturing ourselves when our lives don’t measure up to what we see on our screens. Everyone has their struggles and we can help each other through them if we just ask for it. I for one and going to be more honest with my social media posts. I am going to let down the filter a bit, let everyone in a little more. This past week has the best I have felt in a while simply because I was forced to actually talk to people without the aid of Facebook. While I also go behind in some current events, and I am sure I won’t understand the joke behind the current meme because I missed it. I got something pretty valuable out of it. Plus I got the added benefit of missing out on Game of Thrones spoilers as I didn’t have time to watch last week's episode.

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