I had hit my limit. The arguments, the political rants, the click bait, the pictures of people’s weird injuries. (Why do people feel the need of posting pictures of their recent stitches or their whole family with pink eye? Nobody wants to see that!) So I said farewell to FaceBook and deactivated my account. Next, I took Pinterest and the rest of those little app icons just trying to connect me with the world off of my phone. It was a social experiment of my own doing.
The first couple of days I felt free. Free from people’s opinions, slanted articles, and pictures of the cool places they had recently visited. I got more done during the day. I felt more engaged with my family. It was like thrusting a burden from off my shoulders. Give me a meadow of wildflowers, because I would have happily skipped through it praising joy to my new way of life.
Around the third day, I started to feel a pull. I wonder how so and so is doing? I need to remind my neighborhood group of an upcoming event on our FaceBook group, hmmm. What is that recipe again that I found once on Pinterest? I found myself prodding my husband to look up certain events or recipes online for me. He joked that just how when I go off sugar, he generally gains a few pounds from eating all the treats to get rid of them, that now he was spending extra time on social media because I was avoiding it.
After the week one, I started having deer in the headlights moments. During a play date as we wrestled our toddlers, my friend brought a recent political mishap, wanting to know my thoughts. I had no idea what she was talking about. A few days later my sister texted me to inform me that an extended member of the family passed away. It was the first I heard of it, but she had seen it in the town square of Facebook.
After two weeks, I signed back in. Facebook sent me a cheery automated email welcoming me back. Pinterest, Instagram, all of them, shared glowing salutations from my phone. I don’t regret my short breakup with social media. A rest from the noisy online world was good for my overtired brain. I experienced firsthand that ignorance can be bliss, but is that really the right course of action? The exchange of information and communication has mainly moved to online. While it’s nice to miss the bad, it isn’t great to miss the good or important. I’m still on the fence of idealizing the idea of moving to some remote island away from it all. Or throwing myself in the thick of it, like today, and shouting my voice out into the noisy crowd of the internet to be heard. Which is the best way? Most days, it’s hard to say.