Friday, November 25, 2011

Facebook Hiatus

I'm always one who is up for a challenge so when I was on a late night walk with my husband and dog a few weeks ago and my husband bet me I couldn't go a week without facebook...well I had to take him up on the challenge. The stakes were high- a $100 lululemon shopping trip if I could live without it for exactly one week. In order to truly be fair I had to deactivate my account. As anyone knows who has a facebook account, as long as your account is active alerts will come to your email and phone and I wanted to be off the grid. So Sunday the 20th I let Chad hit delete and I was officially off the radar.

To understand why this bet took place you have to understand why my husband wagered it in the first place.

My name is Natalie and I'm addicted to facebook.

It's the first thing I do in the morning before I even get out of bed, and the last thing I do before I go to sleep. I have been on it since my friend from FSU told me I should join 6 years ago. I had to use my sister's college email address (since I had already graduated school) just to get an account. Back in those days you only had one profile picture at a time and the main form of communication was writing on the wall and poking. I have watched it change over time from photo albums that allowed 60 pictures to 200, email alerts sent to the phone, newsfeeds and everything in-between. Since I fly half the week it is my lifeline to the outside world. It's a source of joy an stress for me and annoyance for those around me. I have a love hate relationship with facebook and here I was giving it up and testing myself.

I decided to chronicle it here day by day:

Sunday night - officially deactivated my account. Feeling slight moment of panic until I get an email from facebook saying I can come back any time. Have deleted the app from my phone so I won't be tempted. Go to bed early since I have nothing to look at.

Monday- wake up early and head to the gym with my husband, realize I don't have facebook so I can't "check in." How will people know where I am? See friends at the gym and have an awkward moment - do they know I'm off facebook? Do they think I've deleted and blocked them? Feel I must share with everyone that I did not in fact delete and block them. One bonus I get to find out from a friend in person that she got engaged instead of hearing third hand from the internet. Start day one of my three day trip. Rely on the kindle and knitting to get me through the night. Spend a lot of time making a play list for my weekend yoga classes.

Tuesday - Must internalize my complaining as I have no outlet to vent now. Feeling cut off from the world until I realize that I can still text and call people. What a genius idea! Start texting my friends when I get bored and am entertained briefly. My phone is pretty much useless now I have decided. Keep checking email to find nothing interesting. Think internet would be a fun distraction but realize it's full of pages that have links to facebook on them so feel it's best to avoid all electronics.

Wednesday - Husband calls and leaves voicemail saying he's wondering when I am coming home from my trip. Says he misses me and doesn't know what I've been up too since I'm not on facebook. Find friends texting me more because there is no other way besides email to get in touch with me. Call my sister who sounds actually happy to hear from me for once and delve into family issues that I once would have broadcast online but now have to keep private. As it should be. Still find myself checking phone but leaving it farther away than arms reach. Come home to in-laws and roommate and enjoy their company distracted. Knitting more - wine helps.

Thursday THANKSGIVING! - wake up and find myself wondering what's going on in the world of facebook. What are people eating and what are they thankful for? Start my day with spin yoga at the spinning yogi where my friend Jessica teaches. After class I send her personal text to say thank you when normally I would have done it on facebook. Send texts to friends to tell them happy day and call my family. Finding my life is becoming more personal where my contacts are involved. My world is becoming smaller because it only involves those I immediately talk too. Find myself so busy with family on thanksgiving day and so undistributed by the internet that I don't even miss a thing as the day goes on. Really enjoy everyone's company and all the facetime. Have too much wine and sleep horrible.

Friday - Have no way to advertise my facebook class so I just have to show up downtown and hope for the best. Have the most students I ever had and really enjoy the energy especially since Chad and my mother in-law are there. After class feeling wonderful and head home for more family time before heading out again for my Friday knitting date with my friend Stephanie. We have nicknamed November "Knitvember" because she taught me how to knit and we are making Christmas presents. Knitting is saving my life because it's keeping my hands busy and I can do it while watching tv. After knitting date head over to yoga studio to teach my second class of the day. Focus has been on heart openers and it wasn't until this class that I actually began to feel my heart open too. At the end of class a student came up to talk to me - he had a beautiful practice and we were chatting a bit. He offered me this crystal he had which he said he used for healing energy purposes and he told me to hold it for a brief moment which I did. We talked some more then both parted ways. On the way home I was so happy I felt my heart might burst out of my chest. Realized that in the past I had shared so much on facebook that I'd given not just the bad emotions away but the good as well. With no place to share this happiness and feeling I only had to keep it in my heart and let it grow. Listened to the Ben Harper song I played for my class and feel incredible happiness:

'We stood in the dark
With our hands over each other's heart
We didn't waste a word
Grace is love undeserved
I've give up
I've give in
I've give out
And back again
Now that we're in from the cold
Our days are made of gold
What has been lived
Can't be changed
But what we have lost
Can still be reclaimed
And I won't let you down
When you feel love
You remind me I can feel love
We sleep and share the same dream love
When we feel love'

Saturday: Leave in the morning to teach my yoga class - have settled in to the fact that I have nowhere to "check in" too. Find myself less distracted overall thus leaving more time for family conversations, knitting and working out. Really glad I don't have facebook today so I can't see everyone rooting for Alabama online and my auburn alumni being upset at losing. Chad and I attend an afternoon yoga class and afterwards have dinner at Fat Sulley's. Realization sinks in that no one knows where I am or what I'm doing and I kind of like it. At home settle in with a glass of wine and turn on tv to watch free movies on Starz channel. Are you serious, "The Social Network" is on. Facebook is mocking me in my final hours of the hiatus. Want to call up Mark Zuckerberg and cuss him out for making such an addictive social networking site. He is the cause of all this and I'm slightly annoyed at him right now. Resort to making tutus, drinking more wine and calling it a night. One thing about my lack of facebooking is I definitely go to bed earlier.

Sunday: The bet is over and I've made it a week. Can log on anytime now to facebook but find myself not wanting too. It was the same feeling I had when Chad and I got engaged and only we knew and no one else yet. That feeling of having something I wanted to keep for myself and even knowing I eventually would share it - just savoring the moment for myself. I could get back on facebook but it was like stepping back into an old habit when you know you've done so well without it. This must be what smoker's feel like when they quit but then get drunk and pick it up again. You know you shouldn't because you can live without it...and yet...

and yet....facebook for all that it's worth is, I have to admit a part of my life. It has been for the past 6-7 years and old habits die hard.

But here are some things I learned while on my hiatus:

-I noticed things more. The little kid with a mohawk in front of me at the grocery store. The smile on the guy at the gas station's face. The conversation going on behind me in line to try on clothing, the sunrise while driving, how content my cat is when I pet him (ditto for the dog). In short I became more aware of my surroundings when I wasn't buried in a phone

-How useless an Iphone really is without the facebook app.

-Life became slightly less complicated and a little more drama free. I no longer felt the daily annoyance, anger or whatever happened because I wasn't wrapped in other people's bullshit. I also realized how vocal I became to those around me about life's trials and tribulations because I had no where else to vent or share.

-Facebook is great for keeping up with casual friendships. I didn't miss the people close to me because they were just a text or phone call away, but I did miss those I spend the majority of my time interacting online with. I don't know if they realized I was away or not but I had this fear that they thought I had abandoned them. Like they went to search for me and I was gone. It's similar to dropping off the face of the earth if you leave facebook. What about my happy hour book club and 14er hike club? Was it still there or had it vanished with me? I had no idea.

Overall the most important thing I learned is that something that consumes me so much is something I don't really need at all. I don't need it to have friends, or to tell someone happy thanksgiving. I don't need it to have a full yoga class or spread a positive message. I don't need it to see what my husband and family are up too and I don't need it to keep from being bored. My life in fact, became more whole and complete because the things that moved me and my emotions remained inside. I had been giving so much of myself away I never stopped to think what that had done to me. I became a happier person because I wasn't obsessed with checking my phone or "checking in." I never realized the opposite happened that when I "checked in" I really "checked out." I think I personally used facebook as an escape to lead a life that was a little less ordinary but in the process contained more drama. There's a price for everything. And by leaving facebook I saw how rich my life really was and my life was even more my life because it was my own and not the whole social networks. Of course I'll be back on facebook now and of course I'll enjoy it...but just like mastering a complicated yoga pose...once something magical happens you can never go back to your same viewpoint. What was once hard is now easy. Like doing a master cleanse and now I am starting with a clean slate.

And oh yes I won my $100 shopping trip I'm happy to say.