"After giving it some thought today, I've decided to take a bit of an Internet sabbatical over the next week or so. No worries, all is well! The introvert just needs some quiet space as she enters what is traditionally her most difficult season. Much love to you all. If you need me, feel free to call or text!"
Truth be told, I think such public declarations are not only a bit silly, but I also think they can be attention-seeking and/or vain. However, I chose to put up the notice because there are a few people who would be concerned if I suddenly disappeared from FB. I did rather roll my eyes at myself, though.
And then, I followed through. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone, walked away from my social media, stopped all online browsing, and stopped visiting the news and entertainment sites I frequent. I did allow myself to check my email twice/day to clean out the junk and make sure there wasn't anything important coming through (I only answered top priority emails...which there weren't many of.) I also did go online if I was needing specific information about an actual project I was doing, which meant that I visited ravelry a couple of times for some knitting info. That was it. For a week.
I had hoped to give myself a little bit of a vacation so that I could find some peace before the school year started again. I wasn't kidding when I said that fall is my most difficult season. It's my peak allergy season, and although most of my symptoms are under control it is a time when I do have to take care of myself rather carefully. I could feel that my edges were starting to feel a little bit raw, and some quiet was just what the doctor ordered.
What I hadn't intended was for the week to become a pretty incredible learning experience for me. It's given me much to think about, and I may need to repeat the experiment periodically to make sure I retain those lessons.
I'm still processing, but here is some of what I learned:
- That I have some super-bad habits when it comes to my devices. I check them obsessively, and had started to become one of those people who was more focused on my phone than on the people right in front of my face. I was setting a very, very poor example for my kids and was living the type of online life I despise.
- Conversely, as an Introvert of the highest order, I do actually need social media. It provides a necessary barrier between me and the real world...and a more comfortable mode of communication than the phone. Without it, I might have wound up living in a cave.
- I have a bigger problem with envy than I thought I had...even though I don't regret the choices that our family has made. I would rather have time than money, and I would rather have a home that is focused on the family than on a parent's career - but that doesn't mean that it's easy to bare witness to the vacations, and new homes, and big parties, and fun clothes....you get the idea. We all struggle with our decisions sometimes, even when we know they are best for our individual families. FB can sometimes be the tool for comparison that leaves us feeling like we are coming up short.*
- I spent the first part of the week keeping a mental list of the things I wanted to share on FB. I even considered writing a blog post called "The Things I Wanted To Post Last Week" or some such nonsense. In the end, I posted one picture. One. An entire week, and the only thing that was truly worth sharing was One. Picture.
- Which leads me to the social media clutter problem. Truthfully, there is so much content online every day that I don't give a flying fig about, and life is truly a heck of a lot more peaceful when you don't have to wade through it. (and yes....given #4 I recognize that I am part of the problem.) Wading through all of the crap every day to find the gems....is it worth it?
- Wow. Look at how much more reading I got done....how much more focus I had for my work and family and play...how much more energy I had.
- While it's true that FB has helped me to rebuild relationships and has given me access to some amazing people, it's also torn up some relationships. For good or for ill, people seem to be amplified when they are online. I rejoice in the good friends I've made or rediscovered, but I grieve for those who I've lost.
- This very much confirms my long held position that the internet is NOT the place to have certain discussions and/or debates. (and I'm not at all afraid of unfollowing people to make sure that the friendship remains intact)
- I didn't realize how much of my privacy I'd given away until I took it back.
*Edited to add: My comments on point 3 about our family choices were not in any way, shape, or form meant to be an indictment on any other family's decisions, nor were they intended to spark a debate about such choices. Rather, I was pointing out that *I* have a specific problem which I need to address....and it's a problem I wasn't entirely aware of until last week when I had some time to sit with myself and figure some things out. To be absolutely clear, our decisions about work and family were made from personal experience, and that is what I was referencing in those comments.