Why I Needed a Facebook Detox

Facebook detox | Happy Simple Living

 

“I look at my Facebook feed first thing in the morning, and it gets me so riled up,” a friend confessed recently.

Me, too. That morning I had scrolled Facebook at 6 a.m., even though I know better. Reaching for my cell phone first thing is never a good way to start the day.

My best mornings begin with quiet time to read, think, drink coffee, meditate and pray. But ever since the election, I’d been spending a lot more time reading Facebook posts and comments and links and stories and commentaries and news sites.

Every detail of the current political climate is dissected every day on Facebook. For me, the addiction comes from the fact that I can always find a kindred soul who shares my perspective. That feels so good!

Relationships vs. Politics

A sentence I read recently in an essay by Laura Kipnis made me squirm:  “We choose leaders who make themselves legible to us as a collective mirror.” Her words resonated, because one truth I’ve witnessed when I venture into the Facebook minefield is how the new administration has revealed us to one another.

Facebook used to be a place where we posted about our very best and most interesting selves. The election changed that, don’t you agree?

Friendships are strained.

Acquaintances are wary.

The ‘Unfollow’ button is getting a workout.

Boy, have I been surprised by some of the posts I’ve read — and I bet you have been, too. I’ve learned more about my Facebook friends and acquaintances in the last few months than I ever knew before.

Or have I?

Who Benefits from our Division?

Are you a Red? Or a Blue? 42% of Americans, according to Gallup’s most recent analysis, identify as independent. The same poll found record lows for the number of Americans identifying strongly as Republican (26%) or Democrat (29%).

If we were all forced to choose a color, I bet many of us would feel most aligned to a shade of purple, or reddish-purple, or bluish-purple.

Here in America, our two major parties have created an atmosphere of extreme partisanship.

Who benefits if we become staunch, polarized party supporters?

  • The two major political parties.
  • The politicians.
  • But not us.

So we have a choice:

The collective mirror that this administration reflects about America can divide us into two warring camps.

Or not.

It can hurt our family relationships.

Or not.

It can destroy the community feeling of a neighborhood.

Or not.

It can crush old friendships.

Or not.

My Self-Imposed Facebook Cleanse

I recently became aware of how anxious I felt after popping over to Facebook throughout the day.

That still, small voice inside suggested I take a 24-hour break.

So I decided to try.

I felt tempted several times, but stayed away from Facebook. The day went by so pleasantly, and I felt noticeably calmer. I also had more time.

My Facebook detox had such a positive effect on my mental health, I decided to take another 24 hours off. And then another. Days turned into weeks.

I receive “breaking news” e-mails from The Denver Post, so I’m not completely in the dark about the issues. Sometimes I check AP Mobile, a news app I like because its articles tend to be dry and factual…like Melba toast, which is what I need right now.

How About You?

Has your social media use increased or slowed in recent months? If you’re on Facebook, how do you feel after browsing your feed?

In 2018, all the seats in the House of Representatives will be up for reelection as well as at least 33 seats in the Senate — and the landscape may shift again.

I don’t know what role Facebook will play in our ongoing dialogue, but I suspect many of us will grow weary of the divisive commentary. Perhaps over time our conversations on Facebook and other social media will help us better understand each other.

I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

8 comments to Why I Needed a Facebook Detox

  • Pam

    I smiled as I read your post today. I had decided the exact same thing yesterday, and didn’t open Facebook once. What a lovely day it was. I’m still anxious, but at least for now, I’ve stopped thinking about my “friends” as either supporters or opponents. Better for all of us and our collective future, I think. Thank you for writing in such a lucid way what I had only had a sense of.

    • Pam, I love what you wrote: “I’ve stopped thinking about my ‘friends’ as either supporters or opponents. Better for all of us and our collective future.” Thank you so much for sharing your wise insight. xo

  • Karissa

    Thank you for writing this post! I have been going through some of the same need for a break from social media particularly FB. I have unfriended people or at least stopped following them, deleted posts to protect my anxious thoughts and still the barrage comes. I have taken longer and longer breaks as I can’t seem to stop feeling the urge to comment or feel my heart rate goes up : ) What a difference it makes in my day to go about my life and hopefully let the flurry die down.

  • These days, I try to go on Facebook only when necessary. I always ask myself if it is useful or necessary to go online. If not, I go find something else to do. I find that it frees up time and mental space so that I can focus on things that matters more.

  • I can totally relate to this, but I’ve actually had a bit of a change of heart about FB in the past week or so. I mean, throughout the election and the aftermath I just found it all draining and infuriating. I argued, and I fact checked, and I pulled my hair out at the things that people were saying, and it all just ended up making me feel like I was bashing my head against a brick wall. I took a few breaks, but the main thing I did was to change my (figurative) status from participant to observer – well, along with unfollowing a few folks from high school whose posts I just could no longer stomach.

    Not sure how to explain this, but I think that part of what’s so compelling and entrapping about FB is the fallacy that somehow by posting just the right thing we’ll sway someone to “our side.” But at some point I came to the conclusion that the political situation in this country is so grounded in raw, unprocessed anger – most of which has absolutely nothing to do with politics – that no amount of logic can budge anyone from their position. So I decided to stop trying.

    At first I just stopped arguing… then I stopped posting & commenting, but at this point I almost never even “react” to a political post. And once I did that, I stopped feeling so powerless, and started to appreciate the enormous societal change that’s taking place before our very eyes. I mean, ultimately things are gonna unfold however they unfold. And I think that probably some very bad things will be coming down the pike. But the fact that the veneer of civility has been lifted is making it easier for folks to see the reality of the situation. And when that happens, people start to wake up, which I think is a very good thing.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m rooting for bad things to happen so that people will blame the current administration, but I am a strong believer in the law of Karma, and I’m getting the strong sense that it’s about to start rearing it’s ugly head in ways that we might not even be able to imagine. So I’m giving myself permission to enjoy the front row seat that fate has granted me. It may not be the “best” solution, but my mood has changed from infuriated to intrigued, and for that I am grateful.

  • Cindy

    I agree with much of what you said, and I haven’t found a way to reconcile my anxiety from being on Facebook with the sense of being informed that comes from Facebook. And with that information, I act. I contact my representatives. I make my voice heard. That makes me feel more empowered, even if a decision or vote doesn’t go the way I wanted it to. Social media has become the #1 way for me to stay informed and find ways to take action, not just stay mired in the mud. I’m inspired by all the people who are speaking up and making their voices heard.

  • Deanne

    I completely agree that Facebook can set the tone of your day! One thing I have found helpful is to uninstall the FB app from my phone. That way, I have to go to my computer to log in and check it. It also doesn’t allow you to see as many links as you can from your phone, so it really saves you time. If I have FB on my phone, it is like a bag of potato chips…I just keep dipping! Also, I am making an adjustment by going to a prayer app whenever I feel that social media urge. A similiar meditation app would work as well. I feel uplifted and energized by that.

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