I’m going to be updating this post daily instead of creating a new post for each day. It just seems to flow better that way, don’t you think?
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On Wednesday August 24th at approximately 6pm EST I ran into an old friend that I hadn’t had more conversation with than a passing hello in over a year. We walked our dogs and talked for about an hour and a half. It was a good conversation and nice to catch up.
At one point he mentioned my Facebook. He said he pretty much knew everything I was doing since we last talked because he sees my updates “eighteen times a day”. He told me I “post all the time” and that he wasn’t stalking me but I am “always coming up in his newsfeed” so it’s hard to miss.
He then proceeded to bring up this topic at least 4 more times before we parted ways. When I brought this fact to his attention he said it wasn’t meant to be an insult.
I said if it’s not an insult then he shouldn’t keep bringing it up because it sure sounded like it was. I then turned to face him and shot a reassuring smirk his way.
Eventually we went our separate ways but his comments stayed with me. Back at my abode, I starting thinking about this in greater depth. I knew that I don’t really post eighteen times a day but I do certainly post with regularity.
Admittedly, Facebook is a bit of an addiction. It’s the one place where all us voyeurs and narcissists can come together to share a common (guilty) pleasure. And since I probably fall in both those categories, its draw is one I find hard to resist.
I realized that although this is a fairly harmless addiction, it might be good to take some time off from Facebook. For some time now I’d already been feeling that I spend too much time on the internet and that Facebook has absorbed a vast quantity of that time.
I’m all about personal growth and this seemed like a great opportunity to do a little growing. I also saw this as an opportunity to give myself a new challenge. And if you know me, you know I can’t pass up a good challenge.
After some consideration, I made a decision and posted the following status update:
Ran into a ghost from my past today. He told me that even though we haven’t talked in a year he knows everything I’m up to because I’m a “constant poster” on FB. I think maybe he’s a facestalker, but whatevs.
As such, effective immediately, I’m instating a one-week moratorium on all posts and updates from yours truly. If you want to know what’s on my mind, well, give me a ring or shoot me a line.
I’ll see you Wednesday August 31st at 8:16pm. Until then, much love & peace out.
Shortly after posting the above, several friends commented on my decision. I found it hard to resist writing a witty one-line response. It’s one of the things I’m quite good at and I take pride in this skill. Facebook is a forum in which I shine.
Regardless, I’m challenging myself not to post on Facebook for one week. Here’s the rules:
- No status updates.
- No posting links.
- No posting photos.
- No commenting on other’s status updates, links or photos.
- No “liking” other’s status updates, links or photos.
- Private messaging, instant messaging and accepting friend requests are the only activity that is allowed. No making friend requests.
- Lastly, no Twitter activity (because, for me, this is basically the same thing as status updating).
I also decided it would be fun to take this Facebook prohibition as an opportunity to update my blog each day with “what’s on my mind” regarding this challenge. The style of my writing here is going to be different than my usual prose. It’s going to be more “flow of thought”; I’m hoping it will convey the more visceral and internal process of this experience.
And so begins the documention of my growth experience.
Just in case anybody is wondering.
10:38pm– Just over two hours in and I’m already fighting the urge to reply to comments on my status update about the hiatus. I’ve also already crafted what my returning status update will be. And, frankly, it’s a pretty good one. I even set an alarm for 8:16pm so that I can do so at exactly the end of this week.
But what if no one remembers by then? What if people don’t get it? What if I am completely forgotten?!?
I also have a screen shot of Facebook that I took the day of the earthquake that was pretty hilarious and I planned out how I was going to photoshop in my witty comments about it. I would post it after this moratorium is all over but by then it won’t be relevant anymore. Damn. Maybe I’ll post it on this blog when I have more time.
11:18pm– I just realized that I can’t post these blog updates on my Facebook wall. How will all my friends know I’m writing this?? Maybe I can have someone post the link on my wall for me. No… that would be cheating. Argh. This is going to be tougher than I thought.
7:06am– My cousin posted some really great pics of her new products from the business she’s starting. I really want to tell her that I like her new stuff but I can’t comment. Ok, well I’ll just call her later today.
11:45am– Man, I’ve had some really good ideas for status updates in the last few hours. People are totally missing out.
1:12pm– One of those ball-under-the-cup swindlers just tried to reel me in on the train! I was too smart for him to take my money though. But seeing as it’s the first time that ever happened, I really would have liked to update my status about that. Now no one will ever know… this is tragic.
3:30pm– I can’t believe this. I just saw a crazy chicken bone on the street and I can’t post the pic for my “Meat on the Street: Chicken Bones of Philadelphia” album. And this one ridiculous– It’s a half eaten drumstick. … Oh wait, I could have taken a pic and just waited until next week to post it but now it’s too late because I’ve walked away and it would be really weird to backtrack just to take a photo of a chicken bone. Especially since I’m walking with a professional colleague.
6:27pm– Great, I just thought of more amazing status updates. I’m doing laundry and I really hate laundry and I really want to post my thoughts about laundry. Like, “someone needs to invent a machine so that when your clothes come out of the dryer they’re already folded. Oh wait, someone already did. It’s called ‘mom’.”
7:14pm– I think I’m missing some underwear. I feel like every time I go to the laundromat I come back with less underwear. Here’s another great status update: “Most people know the Sock Gnome, but I get visited by his perverted cousin: the Panty Gnome”. Pure gold.
Know what else? I’ve had a great status update planned about starting grad school on Saturday and now I can’t even use it because I can’t post. Well that’s completely wasted now.
10:20pm– Of course, of course, a massive hurricane would be headed right for Philly the week I decided to ban myself from posting on Facebook. Of course.
Oh shoot, I forgot to call my cousin. And it’s too late to call now. But you know what it’s not too late for? Writing my thoughts on her wall. It’s never too late to write on someone’s Facebook wall.
God, I feel so isolated right now.
6:24am– Whoa, I almost accidentally “liked” a post that another cousin made about moving right up the street from me. I went so far as gliding my curser right over the “like” button before I remembered I can’t do that. Whew, that was a close one.
7:03– Know what I notice? Facebook doesn’t seem quite as interesting when you’re not posting anything. Huh. Interesting.
11:28am– Just got a lengthy text message from the friend who catalyzed this self-challenge. Seems he’s upset that I took his comments so personally. He also feels like I intentionally publically embarasseed him and misrepresented our conversation.
What he doesn’t know is that it was not my intenetion to make it appear this way at all.
You see, the life of a blogger can be tough. When you publically put yourself and your experiences out there on a personal level you run the risk of hurting the feelings of the people involved. I do my best not to provide any information that may reveal the identity of the people I reference (including the very status update in which I declared my Facebook moratorium). If you notice, I never use anyone’s name. Heck, I don’t even use names at all. Usually it’s “Dude” or “Guy” or “Chick”. But if you were involved in the story I tell, you know if I’m talking about you. I can see how things can get easily misunderstood.
I get asked a lot of questions about the veracity of the stories I post. I try my best to explain that while everything I write is based in truth, it is also an exaggeration of the truth. I’m a lot funnier when I can go back and edit what I said several hours after I said it.
You’ve got to make the stories interesting, otherwise people won’t want to read them. Embellishment plays a role in this process.
I decided to rework the preface of this post to make it more clear to the readers that I didn’t view the conversation or the challenge in a negative way. In fact, I view the whole thing as quite positive. I hope you all get that impression. If not, please let me know.
5:57pm– Oh God, everyone is posting about Hurricane Irene and I want to comment soooo bad.
6:52pm– I had a pretty eventful day today, what with starting grad school and the approaching hurricane and all. Throughout the day I kept thinking of really awesome status updates and held onto them tightly inside my head so that I could update this blog with them later. It was kinda, sorta driving me crazy that I couldn’t take part in what I am sure is a massive Facebook overload on hurricane Irene updates.
And I had some really good ones in mind, let me tell you.
But then I had a thought: if I just saved all my status updates to post later on here, wouldn’t that be defeating the purpose of this challenge? I thought so. Therefore, even though I had some real gems saved up, I’m going to keep them to myself.
So now I’m at my friend’s house, our eyes glued to the local news, as we prepare for a doozy of a hurricane that quickly approaches our area. Worst one in 70 years, they tell us. The city has gone into a state of emergency; again, the first time since 1986. The entire public transportation system is shutting down for the first time in it’s history, effective 12:30am tonight. We’re told we should be prepared to be without power for a week, possibly two. We’re urged to get off the streets and stay inside our homes until tomorrow afternoon.
As my friend and I feed into the hysteria and propaganda that is the weather forecast, the handsome meteorologist mentions Facebook and Twitter updates he’s been receiving about conditions in various neighborhoods around the city. My friend, keeping her gaze on the television, rests her laptop between us on the couch and comments:
“I really can’t stand it that they are referencing Facebook and twitter.”
Me: “Face it, they are a part of our every day lives now. It’s become part of our culture.”
Her: “Yeah, but it’s not news!!”
She makes a good point. What is it about social networks that compel us to so deeply ensconce them into our daily lives? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. I don’t know if I will even come close to figuring it out by the end of this week but it’s definitely worth masticating on for a while.
On a completely different note, I’m fearing that this post is becoming extremely boring to the reader. In fact, before I began updating today, I (for a minute) seriously considered deleting it all together.
Then I decided against it. It’s now become what I view as a personal social experiment. What will the outcome be? Maybe nothing.
But maybe, just maybe, it will be something I never would have anticipated at the beginning of this venture. Maybe I’ll learn something about myself, or the psychology of the social networking world in general, that I didn’t know before. I’m willing to risk boring you in hopes of serendipity. The social scientist that I am is getting excited, indeed.
If you’re bored, stick with me. I’m hoping it will be worth it. For all of us.
P.S. I haven’t even really looked at Facebook today. Partly because I don’t want to tease myself but also because, in truth, I’m not really even all that interested.
9:36am– Alright, we’re now officially halfway though this challenge.
I fell asleep on my couch last night. That rarely happens. I had been transfixed by the minute-by-minute weather updates that were fed to the eagerly awaiting masses- myself included. Somewhere between the Philadelphia tornado warning & instructions to seek immediate shelter in our basements or bathtubs and the doppler images of Irene’s approaching eye, did my own weary eyes close for the evening.
I awoke around 7am to my dog twisted around my feet, my cat twisted around my head, the news anchors still blaring through my television and a stiff neck (because, well, I’m getting older and sleeping on the couch- especially one shared with two other living beings- is not as conducive to a restful night’s sleep as it used to be).
I stood up, rubbed my eyes, turned off the television, and peered out my window. The rain had stopped, the streets were clear, the trees were all still firmly in place and the power hadn’t even once blinked.
I thought to myself, “well, that was anticlimactic.”
I then walked to my bedroom and crawled into bed to sleep for a few more hours.
Upon my rewake, after pouring myself the pre-made coffee that I had stored in my fridge (because I refuse to let a little thing like a power outage keep me from having my morning coffee), I realized that the entire evening previous my computer was not by my side at the ready for immediate Facebooking, but instead had been sleeping on my kitchen table the whole time.
And it is now, while I sit drinking my pre-made coffee, that I realize not just Facebook, but the internet in general is of little interest anymore.
It seems that unplugging from Facebook has helped me unplug from the internet as a whole.
And now, it’s time to walk the dog and assess Irene’s damage. And then it’s time to be extremely lazy.
6:47pm– I just had a super freak out. Like, the “I’m physically sweating over this” kind of freak out.
I’m again at my friend’s house and was about to work on an update. I had already updated before I left her house and wanted to add something. Long story short, I opened the WordPress app on my iPad, clicked a button I shouldn’t have clicked and everything I had written today (which was quite a bit) disappeared.
I was able to save some of it (as you can see from the above) but the rest is lost for eternity. This makes me sad.
I’m going to cut to the chase here and give an abbreviated version of what I had previously posted and tack on what I wanted to add. This abbreviated version will be much less entertaining and for that I apologize. I just don’t have it in my disappointed soul to recreate the magic.
I was lazy all day. My friend had been too. The fact that we were both lazy alleviated our egos. She invited me over for dinner. We agreed that we both needed to get some work done and if we were together it would decrease the likelihood of continued laziness and increase the likelihood that we would accomplish our work.
(I feel compelled to add in here that when I erased the day’s writing I had not been doing the things that I was going to use this time together doing. Just goes to show I should have been doing what I should have been doing. Suffice to say, I’m still not doing what I should be doing and my friend just reminded me of this fact. I thanked her for this observation and am continuing to not do what I should be doing.)
Before leaving my house I checked my email. I saw I had a comment on this post. I commented on the comment, then decided to read over the blog thus far. While reading this post my mind wandered off (as I’m sure yours did too at some point) and I had a thought:
I think I’m going to be sad when this challenge is over. I think I’m going to miss not posting on Facebook.
I know I could just continue not to post but it isn’t the same. I don’t understand why I feel this way exactly. Maybe the final days of this challenge will reveal more insight into this.
So that’s where I left it last. Here’s what I wanted to add on:
I don’t think I’m going to use the return to Facebook status update that I had planned all the way back on the first day. It’s too “Here I am! I’m baaack and nothing has changed!”
I don’t think I’m going to use that because that doesn’t feel like ME anymore. To be honest, I have changed. And I don’t think that’s how I’m going to BE when the week is over. I’m not sure I want to make a big deal out of returning to posting. I don’t know if I even care about it that much anymore.
In fact, it’s not just the posting. I’m not sure I even care all that much about Facebook anymore.
It’s strange to think that I could be sad about returning to something I liked so much.
Ok, time’s up. I should really go do those things that I should be doing right now. I really should.
11:57am– I’m officially having intense urges to status update. I keep getting blips of witty musings about everyday activities.
I thought I was beyond this. I was wrong.
2:19pm– I am in love with my new Air radio station on Pandora and I firmly believe my entire Facebook community needs to know this trivial piece of information.
I blame this resurgence of status update compulsion on boredom in the workplace.
5:25pm– The power went out as I was leaving work today. The outage was not due to the (vastly disappointing) hurricane, but instead to the every two-or-so year blowout of the neighborhood electrical transformer.
Over the weekend I had wished and hoped and prayed for Irene to knock out our power so that today I would get an additional day off work. Well the power did go out today, just not in the way I had expected, nor in the outcome. The stench of irony is strong.
There’s an award winning status update somewhere in all of this, I can taste it. I just can’t post it.
6:32pm– I have an addiction to cereal for dinner, I have accrued way too much knowledge on both the European and American Turkey Oak tree (Quercus cerris and Quercus leavus, respectively) and skinny jeans are not for everyone. THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW.
*Sighs, then hangs head in despair*
7:01 am– Good morning! Well, today is the last sun up/sun down of this challenge. For as tough as yesterday was, I find I can sum up my feelings about this last full day ahead in three simple words:
I’m. Not. Ready.
I’m not ready for this experiment to be over and I have no idea why. I dare admit I have some building fear and anxiety centered around the conclusion tomorrow.
During the morning’s dog walk I thought about extending the challenge to 28 days because, a) it takes 28 days to break a habit, and b) that’s how long most inpatient rehabs last.
But you can’t change the rules mid-game. And I realize that it would just be an avoidance tactic anyway. You can’t avoid the inevitable. The end is near.
9:16pm– 23 hours to go and I ain’t flinching. Not one bit.
Yesterday I was invited to represent my agency at some fancy-smancy professional dinner. Today I accepted. The dinner is tomorrow night. The dinner just so happens be at the same time that I am scheduled to return to Facebook.
Funny, isn’t it? At the exact moment the moratorium on my virtual networking lifts, I will be doing real-live, face-to-face networking. I didn’t realize this when I accepted the invitation but the coincidence is certainly uncanny.
I find the less time I spend on Facebook the less I care about Facebook. Yesterday, when it was an hourly struggle not to post (my utterly ingenious) status updates, I had spent notable time on Facebook. Today- no significant time on Facebook/no significant struggle.
That’s not to say I didn’t have intrusive, yet unintentional, one-liners pop into my head. I sure did. But I easily accepted that they would birth and die with me, and me alone.
This seems like a no-brainer, I know, but someone’s gotta say it out loud so it might as well be me. I mean, hey, no one else is out there documenting their week hiatus from Facebook.
7:08am– Here it is folks, the last day. It’s the final countdown. (Insert ubiquitous Europe instrumental intro here)
Today’s the day I reveal all the insight and introspection I’ve gathered this week. I’ve got lots to share with you all but I’m going to take my time and spread it throughout the day. (Come on now, you didn’t think that after all this I’d blow my entire load in one shot, now did you? You ought to know me better than that by this point.)
So first, let’s start with me. What did I learn about myself? Why am I hooked on Facebook?
I’m a writer. As such, I need a creative outlet for my writing. But I’m also a busy lady; Facebook is the mother of all express check-out lines for creative writing.
It’s quick, it’s easy and it gets a fast response. Facebook is the epitome of instant gratification.
Stay tuned for more. Next up: why you are hooked on Facebook.
4:29pm– T-minus 3 hours and 47 mins until this is all over. We’re in the final stretch.
As this moratorium nears its close, so will I near this blog post’s close with my summation on why we are captivated by Facebook and social networking as a whole:
We all need to feel liked.
Neurobiologically speaking, we are driven to embed ourselves into social structures in order to form meaningful relationships with other individuals. In layman’s terms, our brains are wired to join a herd so that we can connect with other people.
Part of the thrill (yes, thrill) of Facebook is knowing people notice us and appreciate what we have to say. And what better way to get noticed than to openly post a remark for all your 317 friends to see. Out of those 317 people, someone’s gotta see and acknowledge it, right? If someone responds to our post or comment, that means someone likes us. The more comments, the more we are liked. The more we are liked, the more we feel a part of the herd. The more people in our herd, the more relationships we form. The more relationships we form, the more our brains pump out chemicals that make us feel all warm and tingly-like inside.
Facebook does just that- it connects us with relationships that affirm we are “liked”… as easily as a click of a button. Facebook has become our new herd. Facebook makes our brains happy. Facebook makes us happy.
Alright, that’s enough for now. It’s time to head off the to that special dinner. Upon my return: what I haven’t told you yet.
11:16pm– The challenge is OVER! (And has been for exactly three hours now. The timing of this final update was not pre-planned.) What status update did I choose to ring in my return?
Anyone know what time it is?
I thought it was subtle, yet succinct.
Now that the Facebook moratorium is over, here’s the secret I’ve been keeping from you all along:
My life does not revolve around Facebook. Shocking, I know.
Most of my friends & family didn’t even know I was doing this little experiment. The exception are the friends & family that read my blog, and even then, it’s not like we really talked about it or anything.
Remember what I posted on Day Two about my stories being an exaggeration on the truth? Yeah.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a fun little venture and that I didn’t get anything out of it, because I certainly did. Most of what you read was pretty true-to-life. It just wasn’t as all consuming as it may have appeared.
What I hope you picked up on is that this experiment was a metaphor for much bigger and more important things in this world. I can’t tell you what those “things” are though; you’ll just have to take what you read and apply it to your life as you see fit.
Oh hey, and on your way out, take this with you too:
Log off of Facebook. Step away from your computer. GO LIVE.
So that’s it. We’ve reached the end. There is no more. I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ve also got some great posts queued up so keep checking back.
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