It was early August, and I had finally had enough. I was feeling tired, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied, struggling to find a way to fix a slow leak which was rapidly morphing into Niagra Falls and allowing significant amounts of life force to pour out and away. I took stock to see where all of these valuable resources were going, and it wasn’t a pretty picture – the bottom line was, far too much was leaving compared to what was coming back in. It was a massive imbalance, and something had to be done. And so, the culling began.
The first decision I made was to leave Twitter and Facebook. While Twitter was just a little distracting and annoying, Facebook had become, for me, like a refrigerator with nothing in it that I wanted, yet I kept opening the door and standing in front of it. Most people got why I was leaving. Some were a bit jealous, as they perceived this as something they would do if they felt they could. Some responded that they felt Facebook was manageable and leaving seemed like an unnecessary move. However, I don’t have a 9-5 job that provides structure to my day. No matter how many times I tried self-imposed limitations and scheduled segments, most of my waking hours would eventually disappear into the Facebook Vortex. I realized that if I was going to regain focus and productivity in my life, I would need to go cold turkey. The fact that I felt massive relief at the mere thought of doing this said it was the right move at the right time for me.
Another major move I made was to condense and combine the social media and creative outlets that I wished to keep using. I started posting on my Google + wall – mostly YouTube music, poems with artwork, and stuff about my theater company, subjects that inspire me and allow me to express who I am and what matters to me. The cool bonus of Google + is that I periodically get connections and feedback from strangers who have the same interests, as many posts are hash-tagged. This has kept me from re-developing that Facebook behavior of posting in order to get responses; I’m just putting what I like out into the world without obligation or agenda. I use Instagram now instead of Tumblr for my Adventures of Princess Leia, Action Figure pictures and archive them in a section of this blog, rather than having to maintain an entirely separate WordPress site.
Before leaving Facebook, I posted a notice on my wall about my plan, and encouraged people to send me their info if they wanted to stay in touch. Of the almost 800 “friends” I had amassed over the seven years I’d had a profile, only a handful of people responded. I’d like to say this was due to Facebook’s news feed filter (the one that decides for you – without consulting you first – which people will see your post, based on some random and ridiculous formula that has nothing to do with how significant these people are to you…but I digress). However, it is far more likely that for most of those people who didn’t respond, their connection with me was merely peripheral and largely unimportant.
Truth be told, many of them were that way for me, too; I saw the bulk of those “friendships” as necessary networking connections. Facebook, while a nice way to enhance business relationships or stay in touch with what others are up to, is a poor substitute for developing and maintaining deep and abiding friendships. Even so, some of those non-responders meant more to me than just acquaintances, and I felt sadness and disappointment at the lack of reciprocity. So how did I get here? What was the unifying element in all of these situations, scenarios, and relationships? That would be me.
By removing the veil of distraction created by social media, I quickly got to the crux of the matter – I was once again investing heavily in lopsided relationships at the expense of my own peace of mind. The only thing worse than not being taken seriously is realizing you are the one who taught others to treat you that way. Every time I continue to put the lion’s share of effort into the fostering of a relationship with another person, I teach them that it’s ok to take me for granted or (at worst) to take advantage of me. Man, I hate having to admit that, but it’s true. I’ve done it more times than I can count, too, which I believe qualifies as a chronic habit. The good news is, I feel like I’m making a little headway in breaking that habit – I’m less and less inclined to be caught by surprise or stuck in a funk because of this disparity, because it is lessening with each wave of effort on my part.
So enough about the unwanted stuff – what is it that I do want? Here’s the short list:
- less stress and outside commitments
- more intimacy in my relationships
- more time with a quiet mind
Anywho (as my Grandpa used to say), now that I have some clarity and a list of intentions, it is my desire to be like a relief-seeking missile, dedicated to my own well-being. And with that, I’m off to enjoy as much of my day as I can away from the computer, the iPhone, and any other electronic device.