They say it takes 21 days to make something a habit. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. A habit is what a habit is. In my quest to come back from crazy to classy, I decided to deactivate my Facebook account in December 2013. Inspired by an article I read about a social media junkie who decided to go 10 days without social media, and motivated by personal reasons, I took to reality what I read on print.
Initially, it was tough. I mean, what is life today without Facebook? That’s where we connect with people and get updates from ex-lovers to acquaintance gossip. It seems that no business can be taken seriously without a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account as well. I admit I am just like anyone else, checking Facebook to “look busy” or to pass time, and in the online world, social media was the go-to activity.
In the days that followed post Facebook deactivation, there were so many things I wanted to share, only to realize when clicking on the Facebook share button that, “Hey! You don’t have Facebook anymore!” It got frustrating not being able to share the little gems of what I deemed newsworthy to all of my 300+ friends.
I started thinking, “Man, what a waste, I can’t share this!”
Then I started questioning myself:
WHY do I wanna share this lil nugget? WHO cares about what I share? To WHOM do I want it to go out? Does it ADD VALUE to the experience?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that at some point, sharing everything just became a habit in itself. Though I try my best to curate what I share, a force of habit given my past life as an editor, I became aware that I was sharing stuff to put ME on the radar. It mattered not what was already on my radar, so long as I was on it. With Facebook apps deleted off my phone, and my Twitter and Instagram apps pushed to the back, it dawned on me how seeing those apps on the first page of my home screen felt like an obligatory thing to go into. Like homework.
As I grew accustomed to not checking and posting statuses, I found that people who do matter will know when you’ve fallen off the tech grid and people who don’t, won’t. Let me state my sincerest apologies to those who’ve come up to me or texted me — What happened to you? Why did you deactivate your account? — I’m sorry for the inconveniences, y’all.
As much as I don’t want to participate, Facebook is going to be a part or our lives today, with so many things made easier to share because of it. But I feel that using this platform has made us somewhat less humane. I do not doubt that it makes checking for updates on events a lot easier but what is it doing for actual human relations? Without Facebook, I’ve been forced to proactively seek out my friends. Re-ignite real connections. Make friends and maintain relationships the old school way. Is that really bad? No. Troublesome? Maybe. Real? Definitely.
I admit this much: it’s actually quite nice to receive a text with links when an article wants to be shared with you. I mean imagine the hassle: read article — copy link — open up What’s App — paste link — press send versus read article — Facebook share — but imagine the impact on the recipient. To have someone go through all that trouble to share something with you means that you matter. Your reading the article and feedback matters. That’s basic human nature, to feel like one matters, to be acknowledged.
So in my life without Facebook, I’ve begun to pick up reading again, actually listening to the words in my music and taking notice of everything else but my phone. Actually feeling the world around me, how clear the sky is, how sunny it feels, how cooling the breeze is on a warm day. Want to see real magic? Look up from your screen and smile. Maybe they’ll smile back, maybe they won’t, but it doesn’t matter. It took me a while to get used to doing it. It’s so much easier to sink into our phones and act busy so we don’t have to participate in human connection.
In our desire to stay connected, we’ve become disconnected in the world we live in. We don’t live in the internet. I’ve actually noticed how sad it looks on the train, everyone looking down into their phones. When shuttling from one location to the next, most people are plugged in. Even I find myself plugged in… into nothing really. I just have my earphones in even without music! Why is that? Force of habit I suppose. Wake up, plug in. Wake up, plug in.