I gave up cable years ago. And believe me, even though it was an easy decision, it was a hard thing to do. I will admit that I really like TV….but only because I like stories. I like well crafted narratives and cleverly staged sets and beautifully developed characters.
I’m a writer. Stories are how I absorb and process information about my world.
But when TV shifted from stories to voyeurism, I didn’t follow. I don’t like to see the worst of humanity glorified without the wisdom of a mitigating storyline. I like the lesson or the irony or the…humanness…of a well-conceived plot that somehow enriches my experience. And when I found myself wandering through the land of reality shows, cruel humoured sitcoms and screaming commercials, I decided not to go in that direction any longer. Especially since I was paying over a hundred bucks a month to have my intelligence insulted.
Even though all of this logic was in place, and I felt very comfortable with it, I hesitated for a good long time. What if I missed it? What if I couldn’t get my stories? What was I going to do with all that time? (yaya, I worry about stupid things, I know) It was like knowing the band-aid was coming off and it had been stuck there long enough for the skin to weld on it. I thought for sure it was going to suck.
When I finally just surrendered, it was glorious. I didn’t actually give up my stories, I just chose a different way to find them. I got streaming TV and took responsibility for what I watched–instead of passively seeing ‘what was on’. It took some getting used to. But it was absolutely worth it and I don’t regret a moment of it.
Just last week I deactivated my Facebook account for very similar reasons. And I had very similar reactions to the decision….which showed me something important about myself. It isn’t pretty, but I’m glad I got a chance to see it.
After years of using the book to keep in touch with people, promote my events and give presence to my business I found that the paradigm had shifted beneath me. I found that I was participating in something that consistently made me feel shitty about myself. I found that I existed in a heightened state of comparison and competition that had me constantly anxious. And I found that all of this allowed me to take a lot of things terribly personally.
I posted things and then waited to see who responded. I got really angry when people posted things that made me feel as if I ought to react. And I got super frustrated when I saw anything that had any type of bearing on my craft. It was like watching a trend circus and all I kept feeling was like I didn’t want to be in that circus. I felt isolated even as I was surrounded by “friends”. And I felt like something must be wrong with me if instead of feeling inspired by “inspirational” quotes, I felt annoyed.
I started to hate people I actually liked. I started to not trust anything that certain people posted because I knew it couldn’t possibly be true. And I found that judgment was an ever-present ally that kept me from falling off the cliff of despair. You see, I knew that my life was my life, but it just didn’t seem like it was a good enough life…..because all these other people–people who wouldn’t know me if I ran headfirst into them on the street–were out doing these amazing things and “being” these amazing people and I was…..just out there being me.
Sometimes, I was just doing the dishes. Or schlubbing around in my house dress. Or feeling a little guilty for making a brownie my lunch. Sometimes I didn’t feel grateful. Sometimes I wasn’t nice to my kid. Sometimes my spirituality failed me and sometimes I just plain-out failed.
This didn’t mean that I wasn’t doing great things. I was. But I was just being human. And it seemed like everyone else was being super spirit human. I knew in my mind that this wasn’t real. My heart however….pulled back and tried to shield. I started to lose my compassion and connection with other humans. I started to lose my trust and faith. I started to lose my practice and my ability to feel spirit in everyone. It felt awful and I felt awful for feeling awful.
Gah. What a mess.
Eventually I was slammed awake by an awful Facebook slander campaign by an individual who isn’t terribly healthy. And instead of reacting in kind, I left. I deactivated my account and threw it to the wind. I worried. I worried that my business would suffer and that I would feel cut off and all kinds of things.
Instead, I can breathe. I can hear my own thoughts. I can feel my spirit settling back into my heart and I my compassion for humanity is rising. I find that I don’t care about many of the things that used to make me nuts. I have time to write and to read, and to get back to my stories.
Real stories. Where the heroine does dishes and forgets to put on makeup and sometimes isn’t “spiritual”. My thoughts are my own and my progress is my own. I set my own pace. I don’t have to compare. I learned a lot about my spirit that I couldn’t honestly hear before. Namely, that I actually am a very positive person and I often look for the bright side and the best side. It feels good.
I feel good. And I didn’t know how bad I had felt until it was gone.
So maybe you don’t have a problem with your Facebook experience. Maybe you use it judiciously and healthfully and it is nothing more than a pleasant distraction. But maybe you are like me and something nags at you all the time, something that feels off and sad and frustrating. Something that makes you wonder if you are doing enough, being enough, living enough…..and if that’s the case, maybe you can just unplug for a bit.
Breathe. Do some yoga. Find out who you are behind all the branding of identity and experience. There’s a whole big world out there…and most of it isn’t on Facebook.