(I apologize for the meta-ness of this picture)
Is it smart for someone in the social media business to go off of Facebook? Probably not. Did I do it anyway? You bet your ass I did. It didn't start out as any kind of statement or experiment, but rather, a necessity. I spent a week in December in a mountain cabin with no internet access. The first day without Facebook was twitchy and uncomfortable. I've never smoked, but I akin what I felt that day to what smokers feel when they quit - what do you do with your hands every 10 minutes? I was alarmed at how often I wanted to check Facebook and how I felt when I couldn't. I felt anxious over being left out, missing news, and letting people down by not telling them what I was doing. Scary stuff.
The first day was the hardest, but after that, I forgot about Facebook and went about the business of enjoying my vacation. Fast forward to one week later, back at home. This was a hard holiday season for me and I was having a lot of feelings about that. Being sad and disappointed didn't seem like a great time to jump back into the fray of Facebook, so I decided I'd give it another week. Two weeks off of Facebook is a thing; people do that; it's fine - FINE.
Sure enough, the emotional tide turned and I was okay again and capable of navigating the *artery to lunacy. But did I want to? Turns out, no, no I didn't. At this point, I feel like I should clarify that I was still going to Facebook and posting on my own page, managing my clients' pages, and responding to comments. I was just staying away from 'the artery'.
*The artery to lunacy is what my neighbor Amanda calls our part of Charlotte Pike, but I'm applying it to the Facebook News Feed.
Around this time, it started becoming obvious that I wasn't on Facebook. In social settings, topics would come up that I had no frame of reference for. It hadn't occurred to me that anyone would notice my absence on Facebook, especially since I was still posting on my own wall and responding to comments. What I didn't account for was people noticing me not liking or commenting on their posts, as well as the questions that go along with that, am I okay?, did they do something to piss me off?, etc. I felt terrible when I realized people were concerned about me, but it was eye-opening as to the power Facebook has over people's perception of you.
At this point, three weeks in, it did become an experiment. Also, I'm competitive and if you can do something for three weeks, you can do it for a month. This week was my one-month mark off of Facebook. I had planned on going back on Tuesday. But guess what happened on Monday night? POLITICS. The morning after President Obama's State of the Union didn't seem the best time to ease back into Facebook, so I didn't. And then I got busy and forgot about it. When I publish this post, I'll go back to being a normal Facebook user, News Feed and all. Goddess help me.
I learned some stuff by spending a month off of Facebook. In the obvious column, I learned that a huge portion of face-to-face interactions revolve around Facebook activity. I'm going to assume you knew that. Now for the interesting part. In the less obvious column, I learned that I like people better when I'm judging them based on how I feel as a result of actual, in-person interactions, as opposed to what they put on Facebook. When you can cut through what people want you to think about them and see them for who they are, you're like, 'Oh yeah, I like you. All those Duck Dynasty pictures made me forget that for a minute'.
Not being on Facebook is like those people with the "Kill your T.V." bumper stickers. Who are they? What world do they live in? Facebook is just where we're at. You can't not do it. But, I posit, you can set some real parameters around how you want to use it and what you want out of it. Facebook is this omnipresent THING shooting emotions at you all day. 'Oh, blah blah blah and blah blah blah went to lunch. I wonder why they didn't ask me? Guess I'll just binge eat this office candy and re-evaluate all of my adult friendships.'
People say that Facebook is a time-suck, but for me, that's not it. It's more that it injects these false feelings into my day that detract from not only from my productivity, but from my emotional well-being. I knew this, but I didn't know it until I felt the absence of it. For the month I was off of Facebook, I didn't have any random, daily frustrations unless I was legitimately frustrated, which, turns out, I rarely am. I'm a pretty happy person. It just took a month off of Facebook to disconnect the dots.
See you on the artery!