WHOA this is a long post. If you make it to the end, kudos to you! If not, that’s okay too. This one gets filed under “Reflections” and kind of rambles like a diary. SORRY.
Over the last few days and weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with the people in my life about being present. About really soaking up the moments of each day and the time spent with the people in our lives. And I’ve found that one thing we can almost all agree on is that we are having a harder and harder time acknowledging that presence. We’re being stretched too thin by too many messages as our online life becomes a bigger and bigger part of our real lives.
The internet is an amazing and wonderful creation. It’s globalized our economy and information, creating remarkable relationships between people that are separated by space and geography. It’s fueled the billions of dollars in innovation in every single sector. It’s brought much-needed education and resources to countless individuals around the world. When you really step back and think about it, the internet is one of the single most transformational developments for humankind.
I love it. LOVE IT. Almost everything about it. But like in all relationships, balance is key. And I’m having such a hard time finding that balance lately.
My job is the internet. I’m an online marketing specialist. I teach companies how to reach people on the internet and encourage them to do so strategically.
But I have a horrible time with stepping away from it and truly living in the real, non-online world.
This weekend I spent some time talking with one of my friends who gave up Facebook a few months ago. When I asked her why, she simply said, “It made me unhappy.” We went on to talk about all of the negative thoughts, feelings and even actions that took place simply as a result of our Facebook lives…
“I used to like her but she’s just SO annoying on Facebook, I just can’t stand her anymore. Can I un-friend them in real-life too?”
“Did you see so-and-so? Looks like they’ve put on some serious weight!”
“UGH she is SO pretty. Why can’t I look like that? I hate my life.”
“How come every single other person seems to be getting everything they want in life?! When will it be my turn?”
“ANOTHER engagement? Seriously, these people need to stop. We are WAY too young for that!”
Yep. That is just a tiny sample of the negativity that comes about when I troll my Facebook feed. And one of the most frustrating parts of it is that I KNOW it’s happening. I know I’m being cynical and letting things that shouldn’t matter get to me. I know that people only share the 10% of good in their lives on Facebook. Why do I let it bother me?
This topic got brought up again tonight when we were discussing Chapter 13 in Romans in my Bible study group. One of the questions in the study was about what we were addicted to and how we handle it in our day-to-day lives. All of the girls in the group admitted to being addicted to or at least dependent on Facebook, launching into a similar discussion to the one I had over the weekend. One of the comments that stood out to me as being particularly eye-opening:
“Sometimes I think I get on Facebook because I don’t know how to be alone with my thoughts anymore.”
Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. But SO true. How easy is it to look to others to help figure out our own feelings? To measure our lives based on what everyone else is sharing about theirs? I know I do it. ALL. THE. TIME.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, he wrote about the Reality Distortion Field that Jobs would create at Apple to convince people that things were the way he wanted them to be. With a combination of charm, charisma, wit and persuasion, Jobs was able to convince those around him (and himself) that things were one way when they may have been completely different. Just Steve used his charm and brilliance, we use the perfect status update, the prettiest Instagram and perfectly placed witty comments on our friend’s walls to make sure everyone knows that we’re interesting and worthy of their attention. The sad part of that fantastically constructed PR campaign that is our Facebook/online lives is that the reality (as unbelievably wonderful as it is, at least for me as of late) gets lost in the Distortion Field without us even realizing it.
In reflecting on the anecdotes Isaacson shared in his book about Jobs in light of my recent conversations about being present and how Facebook is impacting my thoughts and feelings, it dawned on me that…
I’ve been on Facebook for 7 years now. That’s almost 1/3 of my life.
Seven extremely FORMATIVE years (sophomore year of high school through college and into adulthood). And I never took a break. Heck, I never even gave it up for Lent.
Everything about my personality makes me someone that LOVES social media. I admit it. I’m a freak about it. Obsessed. I love to share, words are my love language, and I get my energy from others. Social media was made for people like me.
But who would I be without it?
I deactivated my Facebook today. Just to see what life is like without it. I absolutely guarantee that I’ll go back eventually. I’ll still have to have some interaction with it for work purposes. But for the next month, I’m going to try to do without it and see if a break from Facebook is just what I need to figure out how to be present again. How to be good with my own thoughts. How to make the most of my time.
For those of you that think I’ll just abuse Twitter in place of Facebook: You’re probably right. But Twitter doesn’t make me feel as bad about myself as Facebook. And I’m going to take a focused effort to limit my Twitter/iPhone usage too. This is an experiment. An attempt at figuring out how to be the best me.
An additional disclaimer: I’m in no way advocating that YOU give up Facebook. I think a lot of people do a great job of not getting wrapped up in what’s going on on the internet. I’m not one of those people. You also may be tempted to point to this blog and say, “WHAT A HYPOCRITE! She gave up Facebook because of the character limitations, obvi.” To that I’ll say: Blogging is a creative outlet for me that I truly enjoy spending my time doing. I’m working every day to be a better writer through this blog. We place our time and priority in different places (in real life and on the internet) based upon what matters to each of us. At this particular moment, being a better writer and documenting my twenties through this blog matters to me more than refreshing my Facebook feed 30 times each day.
What do you do to feel present? And how does Facebook impact your daily life? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!
If you’re looking for a way to get in touch with me that isn’t Facebook, please don’t hesitate to email me at erika[at]allthingseblog[dot]com.