Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Facebook Cold Turkey

So, I deactivated my Facebook account a little over 21 days ago, for myriad reasons, but the largest contributing factor was, that it often made me feel like crap and obsess over things that really didn’t need obsessing over.

I’m a natural born worrier, and so worrying about things I saw on Facebook was a natural extension of that, but when I noticed that often, I felt anxious when checking Facebook, I decided that enough was enough. Not that I am blaming Facebook for this; I fully appreciate it’s my own personality flaws (or quirks) that made me feel the way I did, but I realised the only way to get a handle on it was to cut myself off for a while.

Other factors in my decision were –

The sheer amount of time I spent on Facebook; I don’t think the frequency with which I would check in (only exasperated by having a ‘smart’ phone that would beep to alert me if anyone so much as farted) was healthy or normal.

Frankly it made me feel like I was back at school sometimes, and… yeah, I just don’t need that. I’ve drifted away from some people, despite my (often repeated) efforts to keep in touch, and sometimes seeing people interact with others, while not responding to me felt like a slap in the face, and something I would dwell on way more than is healthy.

It made me cross, again, entirely my own problem, but I would often find myself getting riled up by things people posted and – seriously – when I take a step back I realise it’s just not worth it.

So yes, cold turkey for me. I am sure I will be back at some point (I have far too much history stored up on there to abandon it altogether) but for the time being I’ve made the decision that, until not logging into Facebook feels normal (i.e. I don’t miss it), I will be keeping my distance.

Although, since I stopped using Facebook, I have been spending more time using Twitter, which probably seems counterproductive at first glance. However I find Twitter and Facebook to be two vastly different beasts.

While Facebook feels very personal to me, I feel a greater degree of detachment when using Twitter, which actually leads to a greater sense of freedom/not giving a damn. On Twitter I (mostly) post whatever I feel like, and don’t feel self-conscious about it, whereas on Facebook I would worry about how things I posted would be interpreted by X, Y & Z. I don’t get that with Twitter, probably because a) in the grand scheme of the Twittersphere I am pretty much invisible (think I have less than 100 ‘followers’), and b) a lot of my followers on Twitter aren’t people I know in real life. I don’t know why exactly, but somehow I like that better.

I do sometimes wonder if real friends and the internet actually mix that well? Historically I’ve used the internet to interact with strangers (back in the day of Yahoo chatrooms – OMG!) and really enjoyed the experience, but brining people I *know* into the equation, somehow muddies the water a bit for me. Maybe because I care less about what strangers think of me(?), or feel that my friends/people I know will be more likely to judge me (that’s probably the exact opposite of how most people think I know)… All I know is that, when I first used the internet to ‘talk’ to people, it felt like a different world – I had the freedom to be myself and didn’t have to worry (this was at a time when I was bullied a LOT so for me to be ‘myself’ and feel accepted was a rare and wonderful thing).

I appreciate the irony in the fact that I used an online life to escape bullying when I was younger, and these days you can’t read the news without seeing headlines about cyber bulling. It does seem that perhaps the internet has changed in recent years, or perhaps I was just lucky with my previous experiences? I suppose there is always a flip side – I used the anonymity online to experience a degree of freedom I didn’t have ‘in real life’, and some people use it to pick on people. They probably did then, they still do now.

So, yeah, in summary; I haven’t felt Facebook is very good for my mental well-being in a long time. Probably because I need to learn to moderate my crazy, not compare myself endlessly to others, and demonstrate some self-control. But my feelings on the matter have definitely led me to think more seriously about 'social' media and the impact it has on our lives.

What are your thoughts on Facebook/social media in general?

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