The first thing I can tell you is Facebook + Smartphone = very addictive habit.
Holy moly, I did not realize how I had subtly become one of those people who pulls out his phone everytime there is more than 2 seconds to kill. The number one thing I have realized through this break is how pervasive and unconscious the habit was. If I hadn't taken the app off of my iPad and my smartphone I would not have been able to do this.
In line at Starbucks, during commercials on a TV show, in (sorry) the bathroom - there were so many times when "just gonna check Facebook for a second" would go through my mind - because it had filled in all the cracks of my time.
The second thing I have learned is Facebook is a medium of indirect and passive communication.
What do I mean? Well, you may not know this about me, but I can be a little shy. No, really. When I need something, or want something, or am upset with someone, I get incredibly anxious about communicating it (hence I know so much about Nice Guys and People Pleasers).
Want some emotional support? Simply write "Feeling so sad today" and people will jump out "Why?" "What's wrong?" "How can I help?"
Want to indirectly call out someone? Simply write something starting like "When will *some* people grow up and get past the drama???"
This passivity and indirectness wastes a lot of time and energy, in my experience.
The third thing I have noticed is I think in Facebook posts now.
When I have a bon mot, or a funny thought, it's "this will be great to post!". Kid doing something cute? "Post it!" Amazing sunset? "Post a pic!". My brain actually processes my life through the lens of Facebook.
Do you get how profound that impact is? We can as human beings choose the lens we look at our experiences through. A more spiritual one might be to look for Love in this moment, or to find the beauty, or Spirit in it. Or to "be here now" to steal from Ram Dass. But no, I am looking at every thought and moment thinking "Facebook worthy?".
The fourth thing I have realized is Facebook has achieved ubiquity and utility status.
I have missed some social news. I have missed some invitations and events. I have realized I don't have active email and snail mail addresses for all my friends anymore. Why? Because of course I could rely on Facebook. "Everyone is there." Right? Well, not at the moment.
I know there's been a lot of controversy about the Facebook Messenger App. I can see it more clearly now. If you can become the utility underlying all social communications you pretty much rule the world. Pretty insane to think how quickly this has all come about.
Finally, in two weeks off I feel like I have a great deal more of my mind back.
By that I mean, I realize I was spending a huge amount of my brain power thinking not only about who knew what about MY life, but tracking the lives of several hundred people. SEVERAL HUNDRED!
I'm a psychotherapist by trade, and remember my supervisor (the amazing Alexandra Onno) once saying (in regards to our work) - "That's a lot of psyches to hold space for". And that was just about 25-30 clients a week. Not the 338 people, which is the average number of Facebook friends a person has according to recent research.
There is space now for other things - reading books, exercising, talking with my wife, praying, meditating, just being in the moment!
I encourage anyone out there to try this, just as an experiment. I'd love to hear your experiences, too.
My best to you,
Peter Hannah MA LMHC