The Burden of Social Consumption (aka: Why I am Ditching Facebook (for Now at Least) and I’m Back!)

I let the blog go for a very long time this time between posts. I hate that; it just seemed that, every time I wanted to write, I felt overwhelmed by the blank page, or like I didn’t want to add more to the already loud world of the internet. But here I am, back in this space of mine, and I think I’d like to ponder a bit about social media and the reasons I’m returning to blogging.

Joey and I are in the midst of what’s probably the most stressful couple of years in our lives. Last year, we took over duties as caregivers for his terminally ill aunt, all while working through the process of getting ready for an adoption. We honestly thought we may be parents by the end of the year, but such is not the case. She passed at the end of last year, and through her generosity, we now own her home. It is an amazing gift, but one that came at the cost of a great deal of sanity, as managing someone’s palliative care in-home is overwhelming.

“Overwhelming” has been the theme of the last 18 months, it seems. Between life stress and job stress, I’ve found myself withdrawing from friends, picking at my arms more, and spending waaaay more time in front of the tv and on social media than is probably healthy. And it all came to a head a couple of nights ago.

I was plagued by insomnia, talking to the Lord and trying to hash out some things with Him and plead for some answers, and I got up to go to the bathroom, taking my phone with me as usual (TMI, but there’s a point). It’s quarter after midnight, and I check Facebook (as we all do while on the throne, right?)….and see that I missed my cousin’s birthday. I’d failed to write “Happy Birthday” on her wall, and I was disappointed in myself, and all of the sudden overwhelmed when I realized I’d been forgetting a lot of “Happy Birthday” posts lately.

I finally made it to sleep around 3 am and was back up at 5 for work, and once I got to my desk, in the silence of the office, I was struck by the insanity of it all. Why should something I voluntarily use for entertainment cause me such stress? Why am I liking people’s status updates just because I believe I should; why do I think people need to know if I’m currently watching American Ninja Warrior?

Over the last few months, I’ve found myself typing a status, only to delete it, either because I came to my senses and realized it was something inane, something passive aggressive, or an opinion that may be inflammatory when I simply don’t have the energy to argue with people about it. And I’ve found myself irritated by posts about religion or politics, and began to wonder if I would feel less antagonistic toward those people (who I generally like) if I were not subjected to their inflammatory posts. I found myself feeling increasingly dissatisfied with my own life with every view of others’ carefully curated “social media lives.” In short, I was beginning to find Facebook completely overwhelming rather than fun.

Later that day, I was catching up on Tammy Strobel’s blog (Rowdy Kittens), and worked my way back to her post on breaking up with social media (sorry Tammy! I didn’t realize Feedly didn’t update to your new Squarespace feed!). And I realized it was time to let Facebook go.

What if this season of writers’ block is largely due to my consumption of social media without leaving myself enough blank space to think…and actually¬†write? It’s easier to flip over to Facebook and see who’s up to what or read some ridiculous clickbait article with the same pictures I’ve seen a hundred times. It wasn’t making me happy.

Now, a few things, just to be transparent. I’m not judging anyone; plenty of people genuinely enjoy Facebook without negative ramifications. I’m not being sanctimonious, and I don’t have privacy concerns; we have no privacy on the web, and our conscious decision to use social media means we’re willingly giving that away. I’m also not against social media in general; I’m staying on Instagram (for now, at least), as it doesn’t leave me with the same level of stress. I’m not deactivating my Facebook, and my photos and blog links will continue to share over there. But I won’t be there.

Instead, I’ll be taking advantage of the freedom of not being overwhelmed by every missed birthday, every happy picture of a lifestyle I can’t have right now, every angry political rant I don’t agree with. I’ll be using that “free space” to learn more about being a better horseback rider, to exercise more, to plan more epic hikes, to work on hand-lettering (something I’ve wanted to learn for a while), to talk to the Lord, and to WRITE. To create more than consume.

Life is stressful enough. We shouldn’t be needlessly making it even more stressful for ourselves.

So, I’ll be here more often, hopefully, and I’d still love to interact with you. Drop me a comment, find me on Insta. Send me an email. But also, shut off your phone for a while.

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