Last Tuesday, I quit Facebook cold turkey. It was never intended to be forever and I’ll probably go back tomorrow or the next day, but I needed a break. I needed to get away from politics and the depressing place the world is becoming. I needed to cleanse the palette.
Once a week or so, I get together with Monika for coffee and to do some work. Our get togethers start with a catch-up of what’s been happening since the last time and then we settle in behind our own keyboards and get our stuff done. A few weeks ago, though, she said something which stuck with me. While we were talking, she stopped me and asked “Is there anything good in your life?”
And of course, the answer is a resounding “yes!” There’s Rasa and Monki, there’s a roof over our heads, there’s creative outlets and future travel and friends but somehow those things never come up when we’re talking about our week. Those are the mundane things which never get mentioned because they’ve become commonplace. Instead, I talk about the negative things because they’re different and they take up real estate in my brain and there’s nothing I can do about a lot of them. So when asked, the negative is what comes out.
Then there’s Facebook. There used to be a problem (maybe it still exists, I don’t know) about people looking at Facebook and other social media and feeling bad about their own lives because they see their friends living lives of wonder and fulfillment, lives of travel and excitement. Lives of happiness. Very carefully curated lives. Lives which fail to show the bad stuff in any significant ways. Sure, there’s always “vague-booking,” where you say something purposefully devoid of details for whatever reason, to elicit sympathy, to garner attention, because you don’t want to really spill the beans about whatever it is. When people do that, the rest of us gloss over it, we respond with the appropriate clucking and ‘there there” noises but we don’t really notice. Then we go back to seeing the amazing vacation pictures or listing after the meal at the expensive restaurant and wondering why everyone else’s life is so much better than ours.
Lately, that’s changed. Now, the negative outweighs the positive by a significant factor. Now, I’m being inundated with hate disguised as patriotism, with more and more news reports of terror and death and destruction from all around the globe. And last Tuesday I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a break.
The problem is that I was spending WAY too much time online because that’s where most of my social connections are. Facebook is how I stay in touch with my friends and how I get directed to news and find out about current events. So I took a break. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I could do it but today is the 5th day and I’m doing okay. I realize I just need to filter and limit myself and after these few days, I think I can.
It helps that school is starting again, and I’m teaching two new (for me) classes wich means I have work to do to keep me busy (along with my own writing, and dissertation research and writing, and editing, and other jobs – Not to mention the squirrelly Monki who is almost seven months old and trying to walk and doesn’t stop moving for more than 14 consecutive seconds). But I also need to build a little wall around myself to make sure I’m doing okay. Like the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, I need a “What’s making Jaq happy this week” and that’s okay. It’s all about balance and remembering that the happy is not commonplace and needs to be worked at and noticed and commented upon.
(I shut off comments for this post. I’m fine, just needed to get some stuff off my chest. No big deal. This is how I work out this kind of crap. And yes, I understand the irony of cross-posting this to Facebook and Twitter.)
Now here’s some Cowboy Mouth: