Has Facebook become yet another addiction like TV? Could you go a week without logging in? Or even longer? If not, why not…?
If you have read my previous blog on a Media Free Diet you will know that I very rarely watch the news or expose myself to anything in main stream media and the reasons why I have made this choice. Click here to read.
Recently after yet another major negative event that the media cleverly provoked emotions and a frenzy of opinions I began to realise that Facebook was becoming another platform for this negative influence on me. I don’t have to watch the news as I only need scroll through my Facebook feed to find out what is going on and worse that we are even more influenced by the media that we now feel the need to voice our opinion on hot topics that the media have chosen to sensationalise to attract viewers. Aren’t we just regurgitating the opinion of the media? There are always two sides to every story; do we ever research other aspects of the story before voicing our view? Or are we just believing that A Current Affair is reporting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth….? And where does this incredible need to voice our opinion so publicly come from? Just because we have this forum doesn’t mean we have to wade into the debate of the day? I think another one of my blogs on why insecurities are so loud would be appropriate to mention here. Click here to read.
Unlike my divorce from main stream media I made a conscious decision that I would stop voicing my own misguided opinion, stop posting on Facebook, and I even took it one step further and stopped logging in unless answering private messages. I grew up in an age with no mobile phones, no Google, no internet and certainly no Facebook. I used to ride my bike to my friends place to catch up or pick up the phone to actually speak to my friends. How have we slipped into this virtual relationship with all our friends and family? Am I just getting old? Are these old fashioned values gone forever?
“Heavy Facebook use has been known to cause anxiety, depression, narcissism, sleeping problems and even stomach aches” Dr Larry Rosen has done numerous studies and has written extensively on this topic. More here.
Just like giving up main stream media I had no idea the impact that social media was having on me until I removed it from my life. And the personal growth and time I have discovered since has truly transformed my life!
Here is what I have learned from my Facebook free life:
- Time and Space. The universe loves space; it creates a vacuum to be filled and depending on where you are in your journey of personal growth you will find inspiration of how to fill in this time. Hopefully not with TV…. but spend that hour a day you used to spend on Facebook in the real world. Read a book. Talk to a friend. Play with your pet. Go for a walk. Bake a cake. Cook a gourmet meal. Volunteer. Find a new hobby. Enrol in a short course. Study. Join a Meetup group and make new friends. Make a list of your goals and work towards them. I realise that many use their commute to log into Facebook but even this time can be used more productively cant it? Listen to a podcast, listen to an inspirational speaker, read a book? For me I was led to further my knowledge and education on a subject that I have been ignoring for too long; a whole new world and future has opened up for me and I am so excited!
- True Friends. We seem to have created more online friends than real life friends. Are we all caught up in some virtual game? Maybe I am showing my age here but surely talking with, meeting up with, seeing in the flesh friends are more valuable than people who only comment on your photo of your breakfast or your latest check in? Your true friends will make time for you outside Facebook and won’t rely on status updates to find out about your life. Why do we put these virtual friends before the true friends in our life?
- Sense of Self. Facebook can have a huge impact on your self-esteem if you are reliant on ‘likes’ and comments to your posts. And worse Facebook only rewards you with more visibility for your posts depending on the number of likes you get! Did you know that on a business Facebook page hardly any fans see the posts unless there are ‘likes’ and comments? Otherwise you have to pay for your post to be seen! So it’s no wonder we base our sense of self or popularity on how many likes we get. Isn’t this constantly seeking approval from others? Doesn’t this promote constant competition? And why is it some people keep re-posting their popular photos of themselves so we see it again and they can receive a new round of ‘likes’ and comments; do they need constant re-enforcement from the same photo? I tell you I am very glad I grew up without Facebook; so much additional pressure for teenagers! To look good, to have the latest fashion, to be slim…. Give up the need to participate in the self-promotion rat race, focus on yourself and stop comparing yourself to everyone in your news feed.
- Sense of Calm. The quieter you become, the more you can hear… We spend a tremendous amount of time distracting ourselves from ourselves. The TV or radio is always on and then we log into Facebook to further distract ourselves. But aren’t we distracting ourselves from our own life? Is our own life so boring or not worth our attention that we need to escape into a virtual world? It is amazing what inspiration comes to mind when you allow silence to become a part of your life. If you are constantly distracted how will you come up with that great new idea? There is so much noise out there when you choose to limit the amount of influence it has on you and put your peace of mind ahead of keeping updated on what so and so did for the weekend your life will become calmer, more peaceful and less stressful!
- Let go of the Past. Facebook can be a terrific tool to connect with long, lost friends and to stay connected to friends and family all over the world. However we all have skeletons in the closet; ask yourself what good it does you to say connected to people that have had a negative impact on your or your life. How do you feel when you see something in your news feed from “that” old boy/girlfriend? Do we really need to carry around 1,000 odd friends with us for the rest of our lives? How many people on your friends list do you really want to still be friends with? I have no problems in defriending those that I don’t feel enrich my life in a positive way. Life is always changing, we are always changing and growing. Nothing stands still. Let go of the past and focus on the present!
There is no doubt that Facebook is a wonderful tool for staying connected and sharing news and photos easily. And if you are active on pages that provide positive and motivational quotes and inspiration it can certainly be a good influence. There can be positives however in an age where low self-esteem is rampant and we struggle with time to cook good food and exercise…. Ask yourself if anything I have written in this blog has provoked some emotion in you? And why that is. Leave me a comment below.
“Do not let another day go by where your dedication to other people’s opinion is greater than your dedication to your own emotions! Journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others.”
Dr Steve Maraboli