Last week I removed the Facebook App from my phone. I used to love Facebook. It kept me connected to friends and family back home when we lived out west. I used it to find the information to learn how to Unschool well. I found great recipes, crafts, and ideas of fun things to do with the kids. I got to stay in touch with people I would have lost touch with otherwise. In the last six months though, I’d significantly cut back on using it.
Last week, I noticed how low my energy was. I was irritable. I couldn’t focus. The week before that I had the first panic attack I’d had in a very long time. I’m not blaming Facebook.
Well, not exactly.
I am blaming my use of it. I wasn’t on Facebook much. I was mostly using it for homeschool events and my professional Voice Over Groups. Every once in a while I’d scroll through to see posts from friends. Last week though, I connected my anxiety and panic to my time on Facebook. It seemed I couldn’t log on without seeing something horribly upsetting; untruthful media “coverage”, human death and suffering, animal abuse, and now, the horrific scenes coming out of Afghanistan.
Deleting Facebook: It’s Not Just the Media
If it were just media outlets reporting these things maybe I could find a work around. It’s not though. It’s all of us. We don’t understand what we are talking about. We parrot headlines without reading the stories or investigating on our own. We fail to share the retractions to the stories we vehemntly used as ammunition to defend our ignorant opinions. It’s like the worst game of telephone ever!
I do it too. I get it. We are anxious. We want answers. We want to understand what the hell is happening. Facebook is not going to tell us though. Neither is the media, in my experience. .
So last week, after opening Facebook looking for smiles and connection I was again met with all of the above within 60 seconds of scrolling. I felt despair come over me. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling to any of us these days. I suspect though that we have become so accustomed to it we may be desensitized and unaware we are even feeling it.
In this particular moment last week though, I recognized it immediately. And in that moment I delted the Facebook App. Not my account. Just the app from my phone.
Deleting Facebook: No Big Deal, Right?
I’ve done this before and I don’t know how long it will be before I reinstall it, if I ever do. But for now, I want to share how much my mood and sleep have improved and how much my energy has increased since deleting the app. It’s allowing me to be more present with my kids. My days are more stable. The addictive feeling I was having toward “knowing what was going on” is dissipating.
See, when I did this last time I learned that checking the news once or twice a week is all I need to stay generally aware of what’s happening. If there is something truly breaking, I will surely hear about it. Mostly though, there isn’t.
The humanitarian nightmare happening in Afghanistan? It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d learned about it three days later. Virus updates? I know it’s hard to believe, but there’s not new daily news. Checking in once a twice a week is plenty. That may not satisfy our curiosity, but in terms of “being in the know” I’ve learned that not much new happens over the course of seven days.
What’s amazing to me is the amount of time just deleting the Faccebook app from my phone has freed up. Again, not because I spent a lot of time on it. I didn’t. But each time I did I would see something upsetting. I would then take a few minutes to investigate the truth of it. Then it would take me time to come down from either the fear or saddness of the reality, or the anger of untruthful reporting. So realistically each time I looked at Facebook it would occupy a part of me for an hour or two, at least. If I check Facebook three or four times a day -however briefly- we can see how much time has been freed up.
Deleting the Facebook App From My Phone Has Made Life Better
What has also been pleasantly surprising to me though is that it seems to be an exponential gaining of time. Each day that goes by feels brighter and I feel more energized than the one before. This allows me more focused time to do things- fun things with my kids, work, projects, cooking an awesome dinner…
It may seem to some like I am checking out of the real world. That’s not reality though. In reality, I am spending much more time living in it…
Watching the rabbits in the yard with my kids, listening to my son’s new song, reading a book that has nothing to do with viruses, animal abuse, or war, sitting on the deck with my daughter and our guinea pigs while thinking of nothing but what a beautiful day it is and how happy I am to be her mom.
I’m not pretending things aren’t going horribly wrong in the world. I’m just being real about what amount of my life these awful things should consume. As much as I’d like to pretend otherwise there isn’t one single thing I can do to help the women and girls in Afghanistan. Nothing. I hate it. Thinking of what happens envelops me in deep grief. I truly wish there was something I could do. But there isn’t. There is nothing.
Assaulting my own peace with these violent images and reports is doing nothing to help Afghan women and girls. Me pretending that the more time I spent engrossed in this atrocity the better off Afghans will be is crazy. And it doesn’t help. Watching the horrific events of the world is not a penance for being lucky enough to be born where I was.
I can apply this thought process to nearly anything the news is covering right now. Do I need to stay “in the know” about the awful things happening in the world? About some things. And I am. Not every day though. Not even every week, really.
So for now, I check Facebook about once a day, twice on homeschool Park Day. When it’s a day for me to check the news I go to my local news website and AP News. Those give me all I need to know, in my opinion. Most importantly, checking this way allows me to mentally prepare to properly process what I see at a time when I have a few minutes away from my kids to recover.
I know it’s not for everyone. This probably isn’t even forever for me. For now though, for me, deleting the Facebook App from my phone has made my life and the lives of my kids so much better.
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