Fuck Facebook, I'm kicking it old school.
Facebook. What an age we live in where you can viciously troll somebody from the comfort of your own home. Or pretend to be somebody you aren’t to catfish innocent people. The more time I spend on Facebook (which, for the record, is a lot), the more I am convinced that everybody on there is pretending to be somebody that they aren’t.
I waste hours every day, aimlessly scrolling through my newsfeed. Sometimes I will close the app on my phone and immediately re-open it again for no reason other than I had a fraction of a second when I wasn’t doing anything and my brain (and hands) couldn’t cope. In public spaces, it is my comfort blanket. I can always rely on my phone and Facebook to provide me with something to read to avoid feeling uncomfortable or anxious. Or purely to avoid eye-contact or talking with strangers.
I recently discovered that Fear of Missing Out (or FoMO, what a phrase) is an actual psychological condition associated mainly with millennials (another term I love, **sarcasm alert**) and defined as "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent". And it seems that social media and constant information streams have contributed to this with the mistaken belief that relationships are being cultivated via social media when in actual fact, they are being undermined by it when you’re sat in the pub with your mates scrolling through your newsfeed.
In the past, I have deactivated my account. I have also used a pseudonym account. I have disabled Facebook on my phone. I would delete it from my phone, but I am not able to as it is as pervasive in technology as it is in real life and is physically built into my HTC. I have completely turned my phone off for weeks while on holiday. And as soon as I turn it back on again, it is the first place I go back to.
Recently, I have identified that Facebook contributes hugely to my anxiety. From people not inviting me to events to the ridiculousness of people not liking or commenting on my posts but liking and commenting on the same posts made by other people. And it is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous because I can tell myself that it doesn’t matter, only to find out later that it was in fact a passive aggressive attempt from somebody to showcase their displeasure to me. It’s ridiculous that we bully the people we are supposed to love and care about in such a way. Or that we put so much pressure on ourselves to lead perfect lives and hide the difficult times we go through.
Most of my social life is organised through groups on Messenger and I learned the last time I attempted to deactivate my account that Messenger doesn’t work as a stand alone app if you deactivate your account. Thankfully, things have changed since then and I recently discovered that Messenger does work as a stand alone app these days.
So last week, I deactivated my Facebook account.
The first morning without access to it on my phone saw me waking up at a reasonable time (because I didn’t spend half the night scrolling instead of sleeping), getting some chores done, getting ready, reading for half an hour and starting work on time for the first time in… Well, ever. Which just goes to show that most mornings I must spend an hour to two scrolling aimlessly through complete bullshit seeking validation and instead merely increasing my anxiety.
During the past week, I have organised masses of things which are needed for the impending house move. I have read 3 books. Last month, I managed 2 books in four weeks. I have written more in the last week than I have written for the last six months. I have completed little jobs around the house which have needed doing for ages. Our freezer is full of meals prepped for the next couple of weeks. I have been to the gym almost every day and I have achieved my step goal every day. I’ve spent an evening in the pub with friends being completely present. I have left the house every day because I am not overcome with anxiety. I am relaxed. I am grounded. I am focused on only those things that nourish my soul.
In that week, I have gone to my phone to log on to Facebook a hundred times. I have then put my phone down. Left it somewhere else. Become absorbed in Reddit, a dangerous substitute but one that doesn’t seek to validate me. I have deleted the few games I had on my phone that also absorbed huge amounts of my time. And towards the end of the week, I have stopped automatically going to it. After a week, I posted a picture on Instagram which I accidentally automatically posted on Facebook. I was pretty hammered if my hangover this morning was anything to judge by. I don’t think I’m ready to have the account reopened but I’m going to see how it goes. All I have to do is stay off it. Easy right?!
Hopefully, by not having access to it for a week, I have broken the habit I fell into of being constantly on it. And by replacing it with things that I love like walking with friends, reading new fiction borrowed from the local library or just sitting in cafes drinking coffee and writing, I will be able to withdraw from this constant need for validation that speaks only of my low self-confidence.
For anybody else who may be thinking about doing this, go for it. Unplug, deactivate if necessary, or set yourself limits on use. Get out of the habit of comparing yourself to everything you see. People only post the perfect snap of their lives, not their sleepless nights or their mental health or their unseen disabilities. Revise your self talk and nourish only the positive. There’s an old Cherokee story that I recently came across (in a moment of immense need) that I keep seeing since I read it.
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson though about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”
Feed your good wolf with positive self talk and surrounding yourself with positive people who thrive on joy, love, kindness and generosity. Invest in things that make you feel good about yourself. Walk, read, workout, eat well, spend time cultivating face to face relationships and being wholly present in the world.
Most importantly, know always that you are enough and the only person who has to love you is you.