Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Conclusions & Confessions - a Month into my Facebook Fast

I am four full weeks into my Facebook Fast ("Why I Did It" is posted here - "2 Weeks In" is posted here).

The addictive, habitual power of checking FB on my smartphone and iPad, and whatever neurochemicals it kicks off, are nearly gone. I don't long for it or jones for it (like, say sugar, or diet pepsi when I have fasted from them).

I do, though, see more clearly how life has changed in the era of Facebook. From the perspective of being off of it...

I am definitely missing out on social news and events. Things are happening, parties being thrown, that I am not privy to. I do have a little bit of FOMO on this front. This goes to my point in my last post that Facebook has truly reached a ubiquity/utility status. We have long passed the tipping point.

I am the odd one now for not being on Facebook. When I talk about it at parties, some people find it odd, or project their anxiety if they were off it, or might feel I am being "holier than thou" like a vegan Crossfitting triathlete. I assure you I am not holier than anyone. Just, perhaps, more sensitive.

It is definitely forcing me to communicate more consciously and directly. I cannot just blast out news for everyone to see. I must overcome my shyness and avoidance (and holy sh*t can I be avoidant at times) and communicate. It's good discipline, though. I have written more one-to-one emails than in a long time, had several lunches and dinners to reconnect, and even wrote a hand-written letter (Hi JS!). To do this, I must actually value the goal of the communication enough to do it. There is no way to just blast off everything I am doing to the masses.

I titled this post as Conclusions and Confessions. That was the conclusions, here are the confessions.

I paid a LOT of attention to how many Like and Comments my posts got. Silly how valuable that currency can feel, but I know I felt it. I could feel poorly if no one Liked or Commented. I could feel great if many people did. I will guess I am not alone here.

I thought a LOT about whether to post something or not. As most of you know, I'm the "Nice Guy Therapist" here in Seattle, and it's been something I've been in recovery for for a long time. I spend too much time thinking about my impact on others. So imagine how much mental gymnastics I had to go through to decide not only what to post. How would it negatively impact certain people? How would it positively impact certain people? Since I have basically my full social circle on Facebook, this includes Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, religious folks and atheists. It certainly got me to limit what I shared. My 5-year old son seemed to be a place no one could argue with.

I was spending a LOT of time worrying about things beyond my control, and which did not impact my life directly. I feel horrible for the suffering and problems all over the world, but I didn't realize it was taking time and attention away from me, my own spiritual work, reading books, playing with my son, cleaning my house, thinking about how to improve my own health, or focusing on my family's financial well-being. There was a paralysis of having my attention turned constantly from one thing to the next.

I was slowly narrowing down who I saw anyway. To survive on Facebook, I was doing what I think most people do - I was starting to block certain voices. I couldn't start the arguments, or constant negativity, or quite frankly, constant positivity! When things didn't feel hunky dory in my normal human life, it was hard for me to celebrate those who seemed, well a bit over the top. Facebook knows this echo chamber exists, and it doubles down on it by displaying ads and sponsored posts that correlate to your friends. Very right-wing? You'll get lots of content you agree with. Very liberal? You'll get things you agree with, too. This narrowing merely means the chance for our opinions, minds and souls to change and grow are limited.

Facebook is thus becoming the same post-modern subject individual world that Don Miguel Ruiz describes as our "mitote" in his book The Four Agreements.

Anyway, that feels like enough transparency for one day. Soul-searching and confession is hard work.

I would love to hear how Facebook has changed you and your life and relationships, too.

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