This past Saturday evening (19th September 2020), I de-activated my Facebook account. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but was doing an online course that had a corresponding Facebook group and I wanted to see that through. It’s not been an easy decision. I am a member of several groups that are excellent sources of information and that have become my go to reference points, particularly about life in Portugal. Then there are the friends that I have known for many years, some I’ve known in real life, some I’ve only met through Facebook, but these are all people that I have been able to keep in touch with, which is important for me as I live in a different city to many of the people I am friends with, so it means I can maintain a connection with them over a longer distance. People ask ‘Well, why can’t you just go straight into the groups and ignore your feed”? This brings me nicely to the negatives!
The constant adverts, the ‘click-bait’ that seems to roll around the FB feed. Then there’s my issue with the feed you actually see. I’d go and look for friends because they’d been quiet for a while and it turns out they hadn’t necessarily been quiet, but I’d not had their posts on my feed, because the algorithm had decided for me what I was or wasn’t interested in. I’m not having a pop at the algorithm here – I don’t know enough about how it works, but all I do know is that I wasn’t seeing pictures and posts from friends that I would have really liked to see, whilst seeing a whole heap of ‘stuff’ I really didn’t care about.
Then there is the issue that Facebook was essentially designed for people like me! Those that do say ‘Oo – look at that lovely red blob in the corner, I wonder who’s posted today’? Those that do click on the adverts because “those shoes are pretty”. Those who get sucked in to chatting to people and realise that a good hour has passed me by – achieving precisely nothing. I know, I know, doing nothing is good for you – but I can think of a whole heap of ‘doing nothings’ that are actually more enjoyable for me. I had done as much as I could to be rid of Facebook in my life – I had deleted it off my phone that I couldn’t use it when I was out and about, but still it ‘called’ to me!
This next negative is all about my head! I still have in my head that I should be earning money, that I should be making a living and so many people seem to use social media to get ahead. The vast majority of crochet designers have beautifully themed Instagram and Facebook pages which they use to display their creations. There are a few issues with this – I can’t crochet that quickly and to be frank, I can’t really be arsed with taking all the photos! I love taking a photo – but rearranging the furniture to get an arty looking backdrop to take a picture of my crochet to post to the world to say ‘look what I did’ ….. I just can’t be arsed! I have a certain sympathy with my parents. There are oodles of pictures of my sister as a baby and a toddler – when it was my turn, very few were taken. And then there was my Nana who believed that photographs removed your soul and so should be avoided at all costs – so all in all my photographic heritage is a bit hit and miss! So, every now and then, I get a great idea, a burst of energy to photograph my work, or the things I am doing with my day, or my sustainable life, or things I am doing to keep fit, but after a week, the novelty wears off. Obviously, there is also the problem of the more you post, the more time you spend on FB, so the more you get sucked into FB land and the more of your day / live goes down the FB plug hole.
So. Back to this past Saturday night. I decided to go for it and de-activated my account. It took my very clever, sleuthing sister precisely 24 hours to spot this and message me. What occurred as a consequence of that message? I spoke her her, in real life. Result!
The first 24 hours were a breeze. I did loads of things, I cleaned, I crocheted enough to fill a feed for a good week, I chatted to husband, I wrote in my journal. It was fabulous and evidence if it were needed that I did not need Facebook in my life. Day 2, however, was not quite the same. Instead of being on Facebook I played Two Dots. So now I’ve had to delete that too. I picked my laptop or tablet up at various points of the day, looked at the news, played Two Dots, looked at my email (yawn) and generally whiled away time doing nothing in particular – generally being bored. It was like I just had to have the tablet in my hand, because that was going to be the answer to my boredom prayers. I was also so incredibly tired. I don’t know if the two things were connected, I very much doubt it, but I was so very tired and for me that’s precisely the time that I would spend on Facebook. When I’m just too tired to contemplate anything else.
I appreciate that sometimes doing nothing is the thing you should be doing, but not all the time. The daft thing is, there are a million things I could be doing instead:
- Reading or doing an online course for fun (yes, I do that)
- Writing a blog post
- Walking on the beach
- Astronomy GCSE
- Learning embroidery
- Chat to my husband whilst drinking a cup of tea
- Write a letter!
This list does bring to mind Glennon Doyle’s book ‘Untamed’ where she discusses having a ‘reset’ list. There are all of those things we could do, that are easy and so accessible – like sit on Facebook, play Two Dots, go and get a sneaky stick of chocolate from the fridge. But in the long term the easy things don’t bring about the joy that the things on your reset list do.
I do even have specifics at the moment! I have bunting to make for a friend’s granddaughter and a seat cover to make for another friend’s garden bench. But even that couldn’t force me out of my reverie. But the truth is, that for some reason, I just can’t be arsed. To. Do. Anything. In the end, I decided to write about my experience during the first 48 hours. I have been quite shocked at how often I just reach for my laptop, followed by the dawning realisation that it’s not there. My quick fix is not there. I am really hoping that as the days go by, I become more inclined to do all the things on my list and less inclined to sit and reach for my lap-top in the hope it provides me with a quick fix.
Day 3. Oh my goodness. I don’t know how many times I trotted off to the fridge/cupboard to look for something to eat to fill a big 2 or 3 minutes of my time! I had multiple cups of tea! Today was definitely about filling the time doing anything – I read, meditated (twice), did yoga, did some work on an EFT course I am doing, read emails, looked at the internet, did some crochet – anything other than just sit still. I am very surprised, to be honest! I had thought in my mind that I had given social media a break in the past, but clearly, just deleting it off your phone whilst still having it on your laptop isn’t the same. I am really quick shocked at how difficult I am finding this. I also found husband very irritating and felt very irritable all day. I was dying to go out for the evening, just to do something different to fill the time, as just sitting was really, really difficult!
But then….. Later on in the day Boris did a televised speech about re-tightening rules regarding lock-down in England. Because I had de-activated my Facebook account I could not go on to Facebook and could not get wound up by people deliberately mis-interpreting the rules to suit themselves, or the raging conspiracy people, or just the general chit-chat surrounding the whole situation. So I could prepare for bed with a light heart, without a million voices fighting for attention in my head. What a blessed relief!
Day 4. A much better day! It started in a park doing a yoga class, a bit of sunshine and a bit of rain, and the highlight, opening my eyes after savasana to see clouds floating across a blue sky through the leaves of the tree. What more could you want. The day continued with a positive theme; I sat and chatted to husband (I even got a chance to sit in the manchair), drank a cup of tea whilst doing nothing else – that’s it, I just sat and drank the cup of tea and let the world pass my by for a few minutes. I wrote a pattern for a crochet submission, possibly the most tedious part of crochet design! I still struggled with snacking, but the desire to pick up my laptop or phone to fill time was greatly diminished. I believe I may have turned the corner!
Day 5. Today didn’t really count. I had a raging headache and took to my bed for a significant portion of the day! But other than that, it was the first day when I didn’t think about Facebook or looking at it. This has continued for the remainder of the week. There have been the occasional moments when I’ve picked up my laptop, read the news and then gone on to type facebook into the search bar, only to remember I don’t have an account any more – but that has happened once or twice over the course of 3 days, so definite progress.
So, what have I achieved this week other than ridding myself of Facebook? I have finished off a crochet shawl that I have been working on for a few weeks. I have started another crochet project, just for fun and not one that is going to be sent for submission as part of the crochet diploma. But more importantly than that, I have felt so much more content and relaxed, I’ve read more, definitely chatted to husband more, looked out of the window aimlessly a bit more, and actually started to enjoy my own company again. I’ve started to listen to and hear my body. I will admit that I have missed seeing the photos of friends, along with the opportunity to comment – but I know they are at the end of a phone call or a message.