Ash Wednesday is two days away, so I’m faced with a Lenten Sacrifice for this year. I’ve decided to do something I never thought I would be able to do–eliminate Facebook from my life for 40 days! Actually, make that 47 days, because I already deleted the app from my phone last Wednesday and haven’t logged in since. I’ve noticed that the more stress I’m feeling, the more I’m on social media. When I’m feeling conflicted I tend to dwell. Overthink. Analyze. I feel the need for more outside contact. Sitting home alone suddenly becomes a struggle and I just want to be around people, while simultaneously not wanting to socialize at all. I end up finding myself mindlessly scrolling facebook just for the sake of feeling connected. After all, isn’t that really what social media is–a way to feel connected without actually being connected?
That’s just the thing–it doesn’t really make me feel connected. It just makes me feel distracted from what is important. So I’m doing this to break the pattern. I’d rather reach out to people and make actual connections. I’d also like to handle stressful situations a little differently–it’s absolutely healthy, and necessary, to take time to fully think things through and come to terms with them. If you don’t, the situation doesn’t go away, it just stays there and festers in the back of your mind and ends up causing you problems at some point down the road. You find yourself unable to open up, to connect, to deal with things in a healthy way, because you have unsolved problems in your past that still need to be resolved so that you can learn the life lessons they were supposed to teach you and thus know how to do better and be better in your future.
But there comes a point when you have to let it go. When you’ve thought it through, you’ve analyzed it, you’ve learned from it, then you have to accept the truth in front of you even when you don’t like the reality of it, and move on. That’s where I get hung up. I have this need to understand and have closure, and sometimes you just can’t have either of those things. People are different, and some people do things differently from me…so differently that it’s impossible for me to understand their thinking and why they did what they did. I also can’t make people have the conversations I need to have in order to feel the sense of closure. No amount of thinking it to death or wondering why is going to bring me the clarity I need. That is the point at which I have to stop allowing myself to dwell on it or stress over it, close the door myself, and move forward.
An important part of gaining closure and moving forward, is breaking my stress habits. What are my stress habits? Ruminating on a situation. Trying so hard to find understanding that I’m distracted from the important things in my life. I don’t have the energy to exercise or focus on eating healthy, so I end up eating out of convenience because I don’t want to be bothered with cooking. I fall away from writing because I can’t focus on things to write about. I end up doing mind-numbing things like binge watching shows and scrolling through facebook, trying to feel connected to the world somehow without actually participating in it.
That is why I decided to break away from social media for a little while. It was a distraction that wasn’t serving me in the aftermath of a stressful situation. I removed Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram from my phone five days ago, and I honestly haven’t missed them. I brought Instagram back today because I use it as a companion to my blog, and I had photos of some new plants I bought for my home and office that I wanted to share ahead of a gardening post coming later this week. I plan to bring Snapchat back as well on Ash Wednesday. Facebook, however, I will not be back on until after Good Friday.
So far the only downfall to not having Facebook is that I missed the local library’s Spring book sale because I didn’t have the event reminder. This was a lapse on my own part, as I could have entered the event into my calendar but never thought to do so. Aside from that I’ve not only not missed Facebook, but the thought of logging in actually makes me cringe a little. Since it’s only been five days it may be a bit overzealous to make claims already–but I think when I do log in again, I’d like to limit my uses to about once or twice per week.
My goal is to reach out to people more to interact in a more personal way. Even text messages are more personal than just liking a status update. It may not be a face-to-face conversation, but it allows me to be in touch and more involved with the lives of friends and family. I want to have more meaningful interaction with the people in my life, and I believe that comes from spending time together and having conversations. Something I’m realizing lately is lacking quite a bit in modern society is communication skills. This is something I’m seeking to change in myself, I hope to inspire others to change, and most importantly, teach to my children.
Let’s talk. Let’s be open and vulnerable. Let’s let people into our lives. Instead of always texting or commenting on Facebook status updates, pick up the phone and call. Have you ever noticed that you can cover more ground in a five minute phone call than you can in an entire day of texting? Even better yet–get out of the house and meet up for a drink. Invite people over for dinner. Anything to get you face-to-face is the best way to ensure healthy communication. I feel that society in general, especially in our younger generations, is forgetting how to interact with people face-to-face. Something as simple as talking to people in person, especially talking to people in person that you don’t know or have just met, has become a source of anxiety for a lot of people. That is what I would like to see change. The greatest connections are made face-to-face.
My personal belief is that removing the quick-fix that is Facebook and social media is an important first step to accomplishing that goal. It is the first step in moving from impersonal, to connected. What are your thoughts on this? Do you find yourself feeling “addicted” to social media, or scrolling mindlessly to distract yourself from life or tasks you need to complete? If you’ve done a social media detox, I would love to hear what the results were for you.
I will be sure to keep you updated throughout the next 40 days.