“Okay I am finally on facebook but I still think myspace is way cooler!”
That was one of my first facebook statuses. I started the online social scene in about 2003 when I was pregnant with my first baby. At that point I was in online chat rooms, connecting with other moms who were in their first pregnancy. I knew at that point I was spending a little too much time on the computer but who cared? I felt so awful with morning sickness I just wanted to sit around anyway. About a year or so later I joined myspace. I had fun decorating my profile, finding old friends and being creative. A few years after that I finally succumbed to the fact that myspace was not as popular as facebook. I had more friends joining facebook than I did myspace. I signed up. This online social stuff was really starting eat up my time. I was becoming addicted, but didn’t realize it. I turned into that cranky mom who would snap at the kids because they interrupted my facebook/myspace time! I am seriously embarrassed to think about that now but I do want to be completely honest with you! I continued spending a good 2-4 hours a day messing around on facebook or myspace. It drove my hubby crazy, and with good reason! Sometimes I would check out after dinner and he would put the kids to bed by himself.
Three kids later, my life was way busier. I decided to get rid of myspace but that did not stop my online addiction. I found out that I needed facebook for my blog and I also started a few groups on facebook. I was becoming much more involved on it. I got to a point where I would think in “facebook statuses”, every random thought or picture went on my page. I would look at facebook at all times of the day; when I got into bed at night and then again first thing in the morning. I was indeed addicted.
This past December I was talking to a dear friend and reader of my blog. She commented on a post about how she had to let go of facebook in her life. I remember when she had done that too, I was so sad to see her go. I loved seeing her updates and beautiful family pics when she posted them. I honestly couldn’t understand, at the time, why she would leave. Until our recent conversation, I was still sad she had left. Then she said a few things that resonated with me. She said…
“I love to keep up with other people and know how they’re doing, but moment by moment connection with so many people inevitably keeps me comparing myself with others way to frequently.
Is my house as clean as someone else’s appears to be when I post a picture of my baby? Are my kids as adorably dressed and kept as someone else’s? Is my child reaching milestones at the same rate as my highschool classmate’s? If not, what am I neglecting to do right? Are my meals as exciting as the ones my friend keeps posting about? Am I as crafty as so and so? Am I as spiritually oriented as my Bible study leader who posts her amazing insights? Am I doing enough? Is what I am doing exciting enough? What do people think of how I’m doing? And the list goes on indefinitely.
The more insecure I felt, often the more I tried to make it appear I felt otherwise in my networks. Then, what people thought of me was not really based on reality anyways. So, what’s the point? The point is I wasn’t comfortable being myself in front of that large of an audience. I couldn’t bring myself not to care what they thought, because every day I was bombarded with what they thought about everything from religion, to politics, to childrearing, to color palates, to how their workout was, to what the weather was etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum!”
She hit the nail on the head for me! I spent to much time allowing the facebook newsfeed define me! At no fault to anyone else, it was all me allowing myself to base who I was off of what others said about themselves on facebook. My first thought, after reading her comment, was to delete facebook completely. I knew I couldn’t really do that though. I have commitments on facebook that I needed to stay for such as accountability groups and business pages. So I didn’t do anything right away, but I did start to take some mental notes on my usage, how I felt when reading others status’s and how it was effecting me. By the time Christmas Day came around I had gotten fed up with it all. My heart was ready for a change. I had become aware of how sensitive I was to other peoples statuses and how energy draining my facebook usage had become. The day after Christmas I decided to try one month of checking facebook once a day. Here is how it went…
The first week was easy. I was so sick and fed up with facebook that I was ready for a complete purge! There were a few days I don’t think I even got on it! I kept a daily journal of my thoughts about this process. Some things I said were “WOW no anxiety today!”, “Wow I had so much energy today I accomplished so much!” here was the really big one, “I sat on the floor and played with my kids for a long time today”and “the kids are so much happier and getting along so much better lately” These things were not a coincidence! They were obviously happening because I had cut my addiction off.
I discovered life in those thirty days! I finally noticed my BIBLE on the night stand! I started reading it every morning instead of facebook. When I needed social interaction I picked up the phone or I visited someone! I can’t even begin to tell you how much my life has changed from those thirty days! I did not miss facebook at all! I got to a point that I wouldn’t even think about facebook until the kids had gone to bed or I had a question for someone and that was the only way to get in touch. Once I was on for my one-time-a-day I did not spend much time there. I got on, checked notifications, my groups, my business pages, ignored the newsfeed and then signed off. I actually started to feel like a human again.
Since my thirty-day challenge, I get on more then once a day now but when I do it’s usually with a purpose. Occasionally I get on just to hang out but typically I just get on to check in with my groups or work on my business pages. Sometimes I will wander to a friends page to see how they are doing. I avoid the newsfeed unless something catches my eye in the first two lines of it. I am now feeling like I have control of my time and facebook instead of allowing facebook to consume my time.
How exactly did facebook change my life? Well I guess the only way I can explain it is if I hadn’t had an addiction to facebook I would have probably had an addiction somewhere else. I do not think facebook was actually the problem. It was me and I had decided that facebook was where I would ignore my life. I would have faced an addiction whether it was facebook or something else. I had to take action to change my life and when I did I found the real beauty and fulfillment I had been looking for. I have found more time for my beautiful family, I engage at meal times, I spend time with God, I have started a new business with my hubby and feel so much more alive! Addiction can be anything that we make more important then ourselves, our families and our lives. Is there something in your life that is taking up to much space? Maybe it’s time to give yourself a thirty day cleanse from it. Here are the actions I took that helped me.
- Ready yourself. If you think you have become addicted to something, before you stop doing it, take notes on why, when and how long you are doing it. How you feel before, during and after you do it. I knew I had become addicted to facebook so I started noticing how it was affecting me.
- Pick a time and go for it! I suggest thirty days to really see results. I was SO ready after just two weeks of being aware of my addiction!
- Keep a journal during this cleansing time. Write in your journal if you are tempted by your addiction. If you have a once-a-day limit then write in your journal after you do it. Write how you feel emotionally and physically. For the first two weeks I wrote in my journal after I was on facebook for my one time that day.
- Once the thirty days are over, read your journal and reflect. See where the positive changes have come into your life. Honestly I couldn’t believe how much life I had not been living! It was so eye opening and amazing to see my thoughts about myself and life change and to see what I did with my time instead of being on facebook!
- Lastly take it easy going back (if it is something you can go back too). I still don’t spend a lot of time on facebook and when I do go I try to have a purpose to be there.
I am thankful that I had this journey with facebook. I am blessed to have changed for the better. Sure, I wish I had come to this conclusion sooner but it’s better to embrace the NOW than to regret any paths that lead me there. It is usually the path that makes a person better. My life feels much more purposeful, engaged and as if I am living for the first time in years! I hope this post brought you hope. If you are struggling please don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, family member or even a counselor! You can overcome addiction, you just have to believe in yourself or me! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like, I’ll do whatever I can to help you. God Bless!
Strive For Progress!
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