I left Facebook on December 31, 2018 for four reasons: 1) the data breaches, 2) the mistaken idea that connection only happens on Facebook, 3) the addictive nature of scrolling, and 4) the suffering of the content moderators who have to see (and can never unsee) all the horrific stuff that gets deleted so we don’t have to experience it.
It’s humbling to realize that you can’t live your life without causing suffering somewhere. Even walking outside, you could be unwittingly stepping on an insect and ending its life. I start with that sentence because it’s reason number 4 that pushed me over the edge in the first place. But here I am, back on Facebook.
It was an interesting loneliness. I did feel a little left out, but not terribly. Any of the more important information, I got anyway because my wife was still on. Still. Being off social media didn’t necessarily make me more active directly with my friends. They’re busy. I mean, truly — not just ‘make work busy’. They’ve got jobs, families, lives, obligations. Almost every spare minute is spoken for. So I didn’t meet with them in person any more often, or even talk to them on the phone.
I was probably thinking that if I get off Facebook, the actual world will go back to John Boy days from the Waltons, where we all gathered around the table for meals, and friends saw each other every day to work on the quilt together…yeah, so no. That’s not what happened.
But there were several important outcomes from this experiment.
1. I am more mindful in the morning. I used to hit FB first thing upon opening my eyes. I know I’m not alone in this. But since signing off, I won’t look at my screen until I’ve meditated and written my pages. That’s non-negotiable. That habit is strong in me now, but the temptation will resume, I’m sure. It just won’t be as strong, because I’ve built a counter-habit in its place.
2. I look up a lot more. My head is not looking down at my palm all the time. When I take a walk, I’m seeing the neighborhood, the sky, people getting into their cars, greeting me on the fly. It’s a little embarrassing to admit how often I used to just keep scrolling FB, even while walking my own dog. These days, even when I eat, I’m more present. That said, just the other day my wife pointed…