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Facebook Sanity

Introduction:

Facebook/social media is a great servant…but can be a terrible master! Here are some thoughts I recently recorded for my podcast, on keeping social media within some healthy limits.

You can listen below, or read the following post below to get a general idea of what I wanted to share.

Facebook Sanity: (Basic outline of Podcast)

I am Not Saying:

  1. Facebook is bad
  2. You should quit Facebook
  3. Nothing good comes of Facebook (I’ve learned many things, made many contacts, shared my faith, got a writing contract…and furthermore, it is the meeting-place of people in our society. Why would we want to avoid it? )

Why I Reduced Facebook:

  1. Aware of danger of stress, burnout
  2. Challenged by friend

Rules:

  1. No Facebook before noon, after 9 (it’s ok to break the rules sometimes)
  2. Unfollow (don’t unfriend) especially political/dogmatic people. “Snooze” people who get you especially worked up. 
  3. Leave groups that aren’t well moderated/aren’t nice
  4. Make smaller list, family/friends to post family/daily stuff to
  5. Before posting ask: do I have all the facts? Does the world need to hear this? Does the world need to hear this from me? Does the world need to hear this from me right now? Where’s my heart? Is this just a subtle attempt to brag, say “look at me,” show off, or cause a ruckus?
  6. Trim Facebook feed down to what you can realistically scan in 15-20 minutes or less, once a day. Your usage will then naturally reduce: as you log on later, you will see there’s only a few more posts. Once you have looked at them, you will be “done” and move on to other things. 

Findings: When Facebook is in control…

  1. I cannot plan my emotional/intellectual day. My internal world is dictated by the first thing that I see on Facebook, which will make me angry, happy, sad, or turn me into a crusader. By taking control, I am able to dictate what I see, and when, so that I can protect my more important times of the day for other things. 
  2. I am continually fearing man. Fearing that acquaintances will judge my parenting style, my use of leisure time, my life choices, my beliefs and views. By limiting who has access, I simply pull the curtains over the windows of unsafe people. I am comfortable sharing more intimate pictures, thoughts, experiences with my small group, because I don’t feel judged by them. 
  3. I am continually “plugged in,” meaning that ideas, arguments, conversations, etc. from one day continue into the next: from early morning until late at night. There is no rest, no relief from the constant, incessant conversations. By putting Facebook into time-constraints, and by limiting the people I follow, I am literally taking back my mind, and the ability to mentally rest from thinking about the world’s problems. 
  4. I am continually “plugged in” in the sense that Facebook is wired almost directly into the pleasure centres of my brain. Am I bored? Did I get some bad news? Am I feeling down? No problem. Let’s check Facebook and see if someone “liked” or commented on my posts. If yes, I get an instant shot of happiness. It’s like a drug, like a dopamine fix I carry around everywhere with me! However, it does not always work. What if I log on, and instead of dancing cats, I am met with a picture of starvation, war, or political radicalism? I was down before: now I am further distressed. But even when it does work: is it healthy to be so connected to this device and software for my happiness? 

As I unplugged, I felt definite feelings of withdrawal. I felt edgy, restless, bored. Exciting things happened, and I felt strange (guilty?) for not sharing them. I wondered if people were judging me for not sharing. I became aware of “borders” in my life: times when I was between one thing and another, and now literally had “nothing to do.” That boredom and edginess forced me to look elsewhere to fill these blank times.

What I started doing instead:

  1. I started to notice, and became severely fascinated with the bird feeder outside of my window, and all the many birds coming to it, eating, and fighting over it.
  2. I rediscovered my Kindle. I downloaded a French version of Harry Potter (don’t judge! Lol) and began to tremendously enjoy spending free time in an activity that was stimulating, but not stressful
  3. I found myself talking to my wife or close friends (via text/chat) about ideas and life events (I know…radical idea, right?!)
  4. I found that the mental time feed up has lead me to other interests, such as podcasting and resuming my studies (working towards a PhD in Philosophy, from Southern Evangelical Seminary!)
  5. I find that I am far less anxious, and no less connected to people that are important to me
  6. Started (not finished) discovering more traditional news outlets
  7. Although my online presence does seem to be waning somewhat, as I post less frequently, but more substantively, I am finding much to my surprise, that some of my posts still have a very wide readership. I am still able to have a voice online: maybe even more so, if I do not overuse it!

In conclusion:

  • I have always found the binary approach of “quit facebook” or “use facebook” is unhelpful. People get mad and quit for a bit, then they are back! It is hard to live without facebook!
  • However, keeping it within some very reasonable limits has seemed to have some very healthy consequences for me
  • I am NOT saying everyone needs to follow my rules! I am not even saying that *I* will follow these rules forever. Rules are made to be broken, and it is the spirit of the rules that counts.
  • In this experience, I have found that protecting especially my mornings and evenings has been literally a life-changing experience. Everything about how my mind and emotions work has been different since! Best of all, my Facebook experience (being able to share ideas, being up-to-date on life events of friends, having access to grassroots news-sources) has not significantly diminished
  • I hope you too are encouraged to think of creative ways to keep social media/facebook within reasonable constraints, in order to live a richer and fuller life!

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