So some of my friends may have noticed I had a mini meltdown and stormed off Facebook a few weeks ago. I’ve barely been on FB for the last month.
Here’s the story…
The breaking point happened to be a stupid debate with some friend of a friend on one of his posts. It was a sensitive issue for me and I was feeling angered and annoyed, one of those feelings where you want to come back with a howitzer of information to crush the dude, and I had all these terrible negative feelings about it. Then, there was just a crush of other political rantings from other various groups I had followed during the last few election cycles (god FB has been around forever now)… I was annoyed with what I was seeing, then mad that I was mad. That was what moved me to take a Facebreak.
What got me to the edge was this long process where I had just been feeling more and more unable to focus. My concentration has sucked lately. I was having trouble staying focused on detailed tasks for a long time, getting distracted, either by an email notification, a tag on my FB app showing something… all the various essential viral articles, memes, and other junk that comes across FB and twitter that you just have to check out, otherwise your finger is off the pulse of modern culture… OMG, OMG, look how many likes I got on this… wow, who was that person who commented on the article I posted? Who is this person I let friend me a while back? How do I know this person?
In summary, a flush of information that was requiring more and more mental energy from me to keep on top of, with increasingly diminishing returns. There’s been this idea of cognitive poverty where the more decisions you have to make, the more tired your brain is and the less effective you are at complex tasks to higher levels of thought. I was already feeling the crunch of having to make more micro decisions in my average day before having to care about my online image.
So to sum it up, I needed a break. I needed to make a change.
In the last several weeks, I feel like I went through a bit of a Facebook withdrawal period. It’s not like I went offline entirely. I still posted stuff to twitter (@voxsouley, go there if you missed me…) and I connected with people on LinkedIn. I use HootSuite and generally have been just unchecking FB, to avoid having to go check on how people “liked” me or not. But I did start to think about the day to day things that I had felt moved to put out there, and it was a good chance to question what I really want everyone to know about my day.
It was kind of a relief to get off, not have to check through the likes. To be immodest, I felt like I was kind of starting to get the hang of FB, I was getting “likes” on a lot of my posts. I had a consistent following of a handful of people that seemed to pay attention to what I was posting, liking it or commenting on it, even bits that I’d just kind of re-posted without adding any comment or value.
Once I mistakenly reposted something from an old HS acquaintance of mine that was against my generally liberal progressive leanings, and within moments there was a veritable uproar of 4-6 people (which for me is a lot, another reason I needed to log off and chill) chastising me and debating amongst themselves. I felt the need to take it down (and did) as I was afraid of how it would look. Indeed, that might have been one of the seeds of why I went on a FB hiatus. Having to care so much about what you put out there, to fastidiously curate your online life, can really be a pain in the ass – it’s like adding another task to your workday that you’re not really getting paid for. At least no one is paying me yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a real angle and be the next “I fucking love science” but that’s pretty highly unlikely.
I have slowly started to get back from time to time, ideally using my new perspective and freshly honed FB self-control. I realized that despite all the junk, it’s nice knowing the people I know, I miss the happy moments that people share – when their kids do something great or they get the new job or notice something beautiful and share it. That’s when modern social media is worth it, and that’s what I’ll strive to share from here on out. There’s already too much negativity, I don’t need to add to it.