One month ago today, I got sick. I mean, not with anything horrifying like measles or leprosy or hantavirus. It was just an average cold. With fever, snot, coughing, and lots of misery. I guess you could say it was more like an above-average cold. An over-achieving cold.
Still going to give it an F for “Fuck that.”
On the second day of my feverish delirium, I was sprawled out on my couch, half-in and half-out of a blanket, watching the twelfth hour of a Mysteries at the Museum marathon, and scrolling through Facebook on my phone. It was at that moment that I realized I was tired.
Metaphorically tired. I mean, I was also literally tired because… sick, but I was also tired of what I was doing. Scrolling.
No matter how many advertisers I deleted from my Ad Settings, no matter how many offensive Facebook pages I hid, no matter how many times I excused inflammatory comments or tried to read past something with which I disagreed, I realized that it was my fault for coming back. Isn’t the definition of madness doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? But, if I hide those things with which I disagree, aren’t I creating an echo chamber? But, if I don’t hide those things, won’t my anxiety get worse?
When I first joined Facebook in 2007, I joined under my old blog handle and only accepted friendships from those who read Burt Reynolds’ Mustache, a comedy blog for which I wrote monthly posts. Eventually, I started getting emails asking, “Are you Heather Dobson?” After about the twentieth email sussing out my true identity, I changed my name and accepted friend requests from, well, everyone. Bloggers, high school friends, family, neighbors, old co-workers, you name it. It was the one place on the Internet where all parts of my life converged into a strange amalgam of memory and current events. My fellow high school Black Eagles learned I now cuss like a sailor while my blogger friends found out I was a Rainbow Girl in my youth.
Slowly, but surely, though, click bait, the almighty dollar, and political opinions have overtaken everyone’s feeds. Many days, Facebook feels like a crowded party packed full of people, each shouting about their own life.
My kid won a gold medal!
This politician is an idiot!
This politician is a genius!
Thoughts and prayers!
Ban all the bad things!
Those things aren’t bad and this is why!
I fully admit that I’ve been part of this conversation for over eleven years, filling the feeds of others with my opinions, pictures, and thoughts. And you know what “they” say about opinions… everyone has one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks. After a huge familial blow-out over the Cheeto-in-Chief, I vowed that my Facebook feed would only be lighthearted, full of pictures of my family and pets.
And while that’s been true, Facebook in general is still a web site that exists for its own purpose. It is there to make money and in order to make money, it must convince us to click here, there, and everywhere. And that? Has gotten to be too much for me. I don’t mind attending the party where we’re all sharing pictures and hilarious stories of how that friend fell in a puddle and this other friend’s baby pee’d on them. But, when the party also includes arguments, disagreements, hurt feelings, relationships that end over opinion, and fights that never seem to end, never seem to find resolution, it gives me large amounts of anxiety.
I won’t deactivate my Facebook account because I need it in order to post on my paranormal group’s page, but I can tell you that this month off social media has been an eye-opener for me. I’ve had MUCH more time to listen to podcasts, read books, cross-stitch, and, more importantly, to listen to my inner voice. Social media had become my entire life and that wasn’t healthy for me.
I know that a number of you have texted and emailed me, asking if I’m OK. Yes, I’m fine. And I have decided that at the end of each month, I will post that month’s pictures and the goings-on of the Dobson family. But, my day-to-day social media interaction will have to be cut off for my own mental health. I’ll always lurk on my paranormal group’s Facebook page. My own page, though, will have to take a back seat to my life. But, if we’re friends on Facebook, it’s easy to get in touch with me. Just go to my page, click on About, and there you’ll find my address (physical and email) as well as my phone number. Feel free to contact me there!