What I learned from giving up Facebook for a month

Along with my many goals for 2014, I decided to give up Facebook for the month of January.  By giving myself just one month I didn’t feel like it was forever so the commitment to such a change wasn’t very scary.  New Year’s Eve, when the clock struck midnight I promptly deleted the app from my phone and said no more. I can honestly say I didn’t have any slip ups but did go on twice to answer private messages that were sent by a friend.  Several things came from this little experience.  Some I wasn’t surprised by and some I was.

  • The first few days I realized just how much I clicked on FB and I honestly didn’t think I had done that so much in a day.  I would grab for my phone waiting in line some place or go to click on it on my desktop when bored at work but I would have to stop myself.  What would I do while standing in line now?  I spent much more time noticing my surroundings once I shoved my phone back in my purse.  Or I spent much more time accomplishing the task at hand without getting so sidetracked.  Suddenly I was gaining all these little minutes back in the day that I was previously throwing away.
  • I had some friends that were promptly annoyed and unsure how to handle me NOT being on FB.  “Can I tag you?”  “What if I send you an invite?”  “How will you know what is going on?” The list of concerns went on and on.  I would shake my head thinking this was the exact reason I needed a break from it all.  People really do have friendships without FB in this world and I certainly could.  Could my friends though?  Apparently, yes.  People would send me texts or (shock!) pick up the phone and just call me.  There were words of “Miss seeing you on FB! Wanted to see what you were up to.”   “I know you won’t see this pic on FB so I’m texting it to you.”  And let me tell you how much more I appreciated that picture of their kid that was sent via text instead of in a rolling scroll of FB updates.  I knew giving up FB would change how I approached things but I didn’t think it would do the same for my friends. How cool.
  • I went out and bought Thank You cards.  Did you know there is still a whole aisle of options of them at Target? I sent hand written thank you’s and grabbed Hallmark cards for upcoming birthday’s for that month.  There was no easy route of throwing up a comment on someone’s wall and calling it good.  No, I wanted to do more because who doesn’t like something fun in the mail? You know what that prompted?  More actual phone calls of “How cool, you sent a card! How are you?”  Much better than a notification saying they liked my comment!
  • Being FB free truly helped me clear the clutter and noise that was in my life which was my main purpose.  I’m really trying to focus on positivity this year and living in the moment.  It is no secret to anyone these days that if you unplug your life, then you find a bit more happiness. I didn’t miss the passive aggressive status updates, the lunch updates, the tagging in at some exotic destination or anything else.  When I got rid of the noise from a person I knew back in High School, I just felt calmer. We all know that there are a lot of positive statuses on FB but there is a lot of downright meanness and negativity.  I just wanted to worry about myself in that moment.
  • The thing I missed the most from FB was the pictures.  Which made me realize the obvious reason I like being on Facebook and I don’t know if I knew that prior to this experiment. The picture from a first birthday cake attack or from a vacation that had long been planned.  I have an Instagram account that I love but so many friends are not on it.  If they were all on there then I would honestly not feel the need to be on FB anymore.  I know I have family that lives far away wanting to see pictures of my dog with her cone of shame because it is too funny NOT to see.  Facebook is just the only means to share that with everyone.

So, what have I done with myself now that January is over?  While I wish I could say I didn’t re-install the Facebook app back on my phone when the end of the month hit, I did.  Mainly to update pictures.  I can say that first day back on it I scrolled for about 15 seconds before I realized I didn’t want to waste my time and logged back off.  There it was still… the clutter, the noise, the competition.  I did go through my friend’s list and deleted quite a few people.  The ones that made me roll my eyes often or the ones that I met once 8 years ago didn’t need to bring clutter to my life.  The good thing is now I don’t reach for my phone to check for updates and I’m limiting myself to looking at it just once a day.  Old habits are easy to fall back into and I just don’t want to go back there. I like the change.

We all have a love/hate relationship with social media in general and it isn’t going away.  It is a great means of communication but you have to find a balance with it in your life and this was my chance to do so.  I was still on Twitter and Instagram  during this time but I have a different relationship with those two apps.  I don’t get the same negative emotion from them like I do Facebook.  And when you aren’t checking one app then you tend to not check the others as much, which means much more looking up and around at the life happening right there in front of you.  No matter how many more forms of communication come about, living life in the moment will always win.

Losing a Friend

A little over a week ago a friend of ours, Mike, passed away some what un-expectantly. We live in a small town so over the Holiday’s you tend to run into people more often than not and we continually ran into Mike and his girlfriend and mentioned drinks after the Holiday’s when things calmed down.  Unfortunately those drinks will never happen. He had been having back pain and went to the doctor to find out his abdomen was full of cancer and died a week later at the age of 55.

Saturday was his celebration of life service and I have never laughed or cried so much at the same time at a funeral.  I watched his daughter, my age, stand in front of a packed room and talk about her father with such positivity in her voice.  She wore Mike’s signature hat, smiled, and kept her head held high while she shared stories with the same ease that her father always did.  She had lost her sister 8 years ago and Mike and her stood at that funeral together and spoke.  They made a pact that from there on out they would always stand together at family funerals and speak of the good times, no matter how tough it was.  They had to keep this pact 4 more times  Saturday she had to stand there without her rock next to her side and I looked at her with such awe.  In the midst of such a sad time she urged people to be cheerful and look for the good.  By the end, upbeat music was going and people were singing, clapping and dancing together.

I walked out of the funeral that day feeling something much different from the normal “Life is too short.”  No, it was much more than that. Mike was laughter, a drink in his hand, a great friend, honest, a good family man, full of stories and always there to remind you how to let go and have a good time in life. I just need to put more of that in my life.  Yes, life is too short but it is also meant to be lived in the moment, not for some day when things change, when the house is cleaned, when you get a new job, when you have X amount of money.  Just now.  I need to be more present now.

Mike’s picture is now in my truck to remind me everyday to stop, breathe, slow down and let go.  I’m not waiting for one day to stop by his house to see his girlfriend and share that glass of wine, I’m going tonight.  Because tonight, whatever I had planned or need to do is not near as “busy” or important as talking to her about the love of her life that she just lost.

I can genuinely say that I am blessed to have known this man.  I urge you today to find the positive in something and take a few extra minutes to really breathe in life.  Go out and live.