August 2018
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after 17 days away from facebook, I've decided not to read my feed any more


icon: "distance (two hands (from a brown person and a white person) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

Last night I ended my 17 days of not looking at facebook, and I feel pretty good about it. Initially I had only intended a week, but at the end of that week I got nervous about logging back on to a flood of notifications (since I have set up post notifications for at least 20 people, most of whom are very active) and didn't feel like logging on. So I decided to see how long it took before I had more desire than anxiety, which was another 10 days.

It was actually quite difficult for me for the first week or so. At first it was simply the habit, without which I didn't quite know what to do with myself. Then I started to feel adrift and disconnected. When I shared this on snapchat and someone asked me why I thought I was feeling that way, I realized that facebook had become my central location on the internet, in the way that livejournal used to be for me.

By central location I mean it's the place where everyone I know has an account (or at least 99% of people I know) where I can go to be around people I like without spending a bunch of effort. It feels very not-static and I think that makes it seem like people are more present. Since there is a fairly constant flow of updates, I could go there and feel like someone was talking to me, without feeling like I had to talk back or else hurt their feelings. I turned to facebook whenever I got lonely or had a moment of high stress that I wanted distraction from. But the updates were largely impersonal or superficial, and they didn't nourish me.

It became this button I pushed to try and get food, which dispensed one cracker every 40 pushes. That's how it became addictive and just really bad for me. I remember reading about how randomly dispensed rewards are more effective when training a pet than giving a treat every single time. And I don't know if that is true in general, but it is true for me -- the times when I don't get the reward I try again more quickly and with more investment in the outcome, because I need to get proof that the reward is not gone forever, that I CAN make it happen.

I really don't want to get back in the habit of opening my phone and refreshing or scrolling through facebook all the time. I bookmarked most of the people whose updates I subscribed to, and when I am next on my computer I will delete my notifications. Instead of reading notifications I'll just manually check the people I care most about -- I'll miss some things but that sacrifice will be worth the time I get back. I won't be able to check everyone, since some of the people I like the most post a lot of links and videos which are very bad for my ADHD and I'm just gonna have to go without.

My thinking patterns themselves change when I am not falling into that reloading-addiction loop. I think this is why even though this past week was draining to the utmost, I wrote several posts! Instead of scrolling through facebook, I checked my lj flist, and when I didn't feel like reading, I easily shifted gears to writing. Moving from reading LJ to writing is easy because my lj friends inspire me with their openness and meaningful sharing and I feel nourished, but moving from scrolling facebook to writing almost never happens, because I just get more intimacy-hungry and start looking for some other form of distraction.

Since I couldn't check responses or reactions to my microblog-type posts, I didn't feel like posting to facebook so that urge all shifted to snapchat, which has actually become really important to me. I have a daily reminder to post a snap -- an alarm that opens up the app. It helps me to take more photos and to think more about recording bits of my life. I have a few people who send me their photos directly, which I enjoy very much since otherwise I would miss them half of the time. I really like having more daily contact with people whose very existence makes me happy. I really like sharing tiny immediate moments. I save every snap I make as long as I don't forget, so it works as a daily record.

My takeaway from 2.5 weeks away from facebook is that it's really only good for me if I use it to share. It's not good for me to ever check my news feed, even the stripped-down one, because it sets off my ADHD and like 90% of people post almost zero original content. It was how I was getting my news and my awareness of what's going on, but I'm gonna have to rely on work for that instead (luckily someone usually sends out a company-wide alert when there is some evil legislation in the works as far as health and access goes) or maybe subscribe to some pages that only send out notifications of things to resist.

Basically my relationship with facebook has changed radically in the past few weeks and I'm feeling happy and hopeful about shifting my habits and investing where I actually want to! Which is mostly LJ, right now.

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Comments
(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
I would love to know how it goes!
bunnika ══╣╠══
gentle
belenen ══╣gentle╠══
It is hard *deep frown* I'm sorry you're still having to deal with that.
solivini ══╣╠══
I'm a super old school nerd, and I remember the days when we used to discuss when the day would come and we would have to be friends with our parents online. It horrified us. I think this is why I have steered clear of the FB addiction. I have an account, and I will check it periodically, but it's only to look at my groups that make me laugh. I may go and read a few posts, then I start feeling like people are so self-important, or dramatic, or both. Don't get me wrong, now. It's great as an employer. I've just never got into it, really. LJ is a different story. Home sweet home. I mostly like it for the new friends I have made. It's a haven and a safe place to vent about my life without having to worry that someone I know IRL will find it.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I have 2 fbs, one that is for work/family and one that is for friends. It's easy to limit the work/fam one because I don't really have my heart in it; it's just an electronic address book essentially. but the one where I am real, I have loads of stuff to get lost in.
ashlaran ══╣╠══
I feel you so much on this! Facebook is such a like button hunting ground nowadays and people not talking about anything really... I missed LJ as well and am glad to be back <3
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I have sort of the opposite problem - my friends are all pretty fascinating there but there's a lot of non-original distracting content and no way to filter it out *frowns*
ashlaran ══╣╠══
Boo, Facebook is just a bad place, no matter how we twist it xD
crsg ══╣╠══
That's great, and well done!

I've haven't been using Facebook on the daily for a few years now (though admittedly I still post photos there from time to time, mostly so that my family in New Zealand can see what I've been up to around Japan). Using Facebook all the time made me feel depressed and/or frustrated, and I figured out that was because I was constantly comparing my life to everyone else's. I've been far happier since I stopped doing that by not scrolling through my feed every day.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
Thanks!

I've never really dealt with much comparison stuff in general, but I do get a little down every single time I see someone I tried investing in posting fun photos with everyone elae, and I'm just kind of like "wel?!? why not me??" I feel like I am the worst at makimg face to face friends.
TFP ★ cadence
ragnarok_08 ══╣TFP ★ cadence╠══
Taking a break from Facebook is a good idea, and I'm glad that it's helped you.
belenen ══╣╠══
thanks!!
diabological ══╣╠══
I have a newsfeed blocker on fb so that if I want to see what someone is up to I have to actually check their page or message them, and can't mindlessly scroll. I feel some guilt that people feel "ignored" by me, but that is my projection and no one has complained.
belenen ══╣╠══
what a good idea! I hadn't thought of uaing a feed-specific blocker before.
hana_broom ══╣╠══
I haven't tried snapchat as yet... I can relate to what you've said about FB. I don't post a whole lot on there but I read it almost every day and I've thought about taking a break from it for a while. Anyways, welcome back to LJ :) xxx
writing
belenen ══╣writing╠══
LJ forever! fb could never hope to be as lovely.
cold ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
LJ is definitely a better place for writers!! I'm really glad it helps you heal and clear your mind. * hearts*
free'n'wild
moonlit_ink ══╣free'n'wild╠══
This post resonates with me deeply. I'm so glad you've already felt the benefits of distancing yourself from facebook. I came back to lj in early 2016 after being very disappointed with the lack of meaningful connection on facebook. It's pretty demoralizing and depressing to spill your heart only to get those sort of meaningful posts passed over, or worse just a 'like'. Though most people I know in my life AFK (away from the keyboard/offline) are on facebook, I felt very alone and miserable. Social networks like facebook brag about connecting us all, but I feel it actually has had the opposite effect. It's so shallow. So I completely agree with you.

When I came back here after more than a decade away it was a breath of fresh air, and I finally met people who cared to write more than a few words, and spill their hearts, and embrace all I shared as well. I finally felt true friendship, and I'm so happy I remembered this place and returned. It's been difficult pulling away from facebook at times, since most family and old friends only use it, but I had to walk away again from it a few months ago. It's a time suck, and has steered away from personal posts to rants, silly videos, negativity. Like you, LJ is my second home and I never plan on leaving.
belenen ══╣╠══
I feel you so much on allllll of this! very glad you have come "home" *smiles*
fairytaleguise ══╣╠══
I'm glad to hear that stepping away from Facebook has worked so well for you!

We also have stopped looking at our Facebook feed. We'd been missing LJ a lot but not made the connection between that and how much time FB was actually taking up. Now we only use it to check certain groups, we have free time for LJ again, which is wonderful.
belenen ══╣╠══
that is wonderful! I'm happy for you!
fairytaleguise ══╣╠══
Thank you :)
webgirluk ══╣╠══
It is interesting that you took time away from facebook and I enjoyed reading your thought processes of the experience. I get addicted to online sites in a similar way to you although tend not to be hyper focused with facebook much anymore. If I happen to see an update or thread I enjoy it can become addictive but beyond that, I'm not too thorough over reading facebook, unlike here. One hesitation I have over creating some form of online group is that if it went well, it would be very addictive for me and I'd worry it would become such a "time suck" that I wouldn't manage to find the time to connect with the new friends I'd hope to meet.
belenen ══╣╠══
I know exactly what you mean! I am very glad you are here, also!
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
Yes, Facebook is great for sharing but the amount of content you have to sift through and resist on clicking on videos which sends you into a Time Warp where 5 minutes of "just checkin in" turns into 3 hours later and you scrambling not to be late to that thing you were getting ready for 3 hours ago. 😖
I truly felt what you said about seeking intimacy on FB and not wanting to stop until you find it. I've been able to minimize my use since I've returned from my 6 year hiatus but life without it I felt I was made to be more creative and thoughtful with who I wanted to spend my time with and how to go about doing that.

I returned to Facebook because I know my cousin who recently passed had an account and I wanted a glimpse of his last days here. Facebook semi satisfies that need to connect when I can't I guess.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.