Friday, September 9, 2011

Goodbye, Facebook. It's been real.

I have been without Facebook for 5 entire days. Detox complete: I am now a recovering addict.

And by addict I mean I was living in a false reality, not that I was spending 4 bajillion hours a day on Facebook, which some moms I know do – they really, honestly do. More like, I was feeling connected to the world without leaving my house. I knew what was up in my local friends’ lives and therefore did not need to actually converse with them. More like, I was being invited to parties simply because acquaintances could go down their friend listing and click my name. Only to get to the party and realize that these people – given my limited actual posting on Facebook – had no idea that I am a loud-mouthed introvert, a rare combination indeed and not a particularly likeable one.

So there I was, at parties I had no business being at with people who liked the notion of me much better than the in-your-face reality of my potty-mouth and obnoxious jokes. Feeling much the center of my own universe, feeling surrounded by people, feeling at the top of my game.

The not so proud moment came after a sit-down dinner with my 3 daughters. My friend had been texting me about some business between us and we bantered back and forth via my Blackberry, the vehicle for my constant connection. I looked up at my kids as they finished their dinner, realizing only then that I had been on my phone, texting, for the entire meal. At this point, blog readers, I will admit to you that even making this confession causes me a wave of shame so deep I could cry at the memory.

I knew it was time to cut myself off, cold turkey, from any relationship that was sustained via the internet, Facebook, and my phone. I couldn’t believe I had fallen so far. I was even late to the game -- I didn't join Facebook until about February of 2010, which I believe makes me one of the longest hold-outs in recorded history. But it's a vortex and an aggressive one at that.

There were a number of events leading me to that place, to this place – the one where I now sit. Back to basics. A simple life? Yes, though significantly less entertaining than the alternative and most certainly one where I feel like an alien.

The turning point was the one at which I learned – via her Facebook status update – that my very best friend had been in the emergency room that same morning, having lost feeling in the left side of her body from stress. She didn’t call me? And then putting the pieces together that perhaps her stress was actually exacerbated by Facebook – that her pleas for support for some issues in her life were answered in replies, virtual hugs and comments. But in doing so, did she shortchange herself a bit? Did she sidestep the true support she needed – eye contact, a hand held, a heartfelt hug – in order to grab the immediate gratification of 27 responses from friends in the course of a mere 5 minutes?

It’s a kooky world we live in, friends. And I have been sitting here, for 5 days, doing my job, loving my family, cleaning my home, taking in the sounds of my backyard. All without the disruption of technology except for this patter of the keystrokes, a most familiar and comforting sound.

It’s a difficult realization, that in order to be the best writer I can be I need to let go of social media, of Internet connectedness, of technological dependence. In order to write from the heart, I need to be in touch with it. And to be in touch with my heart, I need to have my eyes and ears open to its message.

And this – all of this – requires being a little bit connected and a whole lot of unplugged.