You may remember my post last week about checking out of social media for the day. I know plenty of people who have taken week-long, month-long, even season-long breaks from the inundation of worldly – and super-personal – information, cute pictures, heartbreaking news and survey results, recommended recipes, health updates, and DIY successes – or failures.
But I’m pretty proud of my one day.
It wasn’t anything groundbreaking. I didn’t suffer withdrawal anxiety. And I didn’t have any epiphanies, discoveries, or stunning reveals.
It was just an ordinary day with a missing layer, one that I didn’t really miss at all. In fact, the word I would use to describe my feelings late that day, as I willingly left my phone upstairs and chatted with Tim while watching a show or two, is lighter.
It reminded me of another experience. It’s not really that close to the same, but it felt the same…
In the ’80s, I wasn’t working and All my Children was all the rage. I was particularly involved in one of the twisted storylines involving a woman named Cynthia who was getting away with something dreadful. I must admit, I cannot even remember what she had done to whom or why. All I remember is how it made me feel… anxious and angry. I just wanted her to get caught.
I planned almost every day’s events around being home for that hour. I justified it by telling myself I’m making good use of the time that I would be eating lunch anyway.
You may remember that not every story was continued every day, so there were some days when that hour was a complete waste of time (said by the girl who planned her days around a TV show).
Oh, I was marginally interested in the other characters and what was happening to them. But Cynthia? She was the one in my crosshairs. And her comeuppance was getting close – I could just tell.
At the same time, I knew that something was seriously wrong with the practice of planning your life around a fictional story with unbelievable wardrobes and jewelry who were created to sell advertising time. Good golly, Miss Molly – what was wrong with me?
So, no. I didn’t quit immediately. But I made a promise to myself: the day Cynthia gets caught, I’ll stop watching altogether.
And, I did. Honest. The very minute the police came, or whoever was in charge of giving Cynthia her due, I walked over to the set and Click!
I could not believe how good that felt. Lighter. And it felt even better the next day when I breezed past noon without frantically arranging to be glued to the screen, ready for big “news” or dramatic changes.
The same feeling of relief and lightness fell over me the evening I realized I’d left social media behind, even if for just a few hours.
Not that the people or organizations I follow keep a running dialogue about their lives or issues like a soap opera. And, even if they do, it’s not as if I can’t catch up. But when I chose to take that short break, I gave myself permission not to keep up with everybody about everything in real time.
Sadly, the reality is I don’t really keep up at all. I “Follow” so many pages that “checking Facebook” means scrolling through quickly, giving everything a casual glance, barely a moment. Even more rare is stopping to click on More or Continue Reading.
It’s like this:
I’m often so busy trying to keep up with everything
that I end up keeping up with almost nothing.
How sad. Truth be told, I can’t even define my haphazard guidelines for choosing what I read and what I pass by. I just make sure that I check.
And that, my lovelies, is one of the ways I am an inch deep and a mile wide.
How will I fix it? For starters, I’ll “Unfollow” some of those public figures’ pages. The ones that don’t know me but seem to have really cool lives. The ones who I’ll never really get to know in any meaningful way. (Besides, we can catch up in Heaven.)
And then I’ll take time to be more intentional about the worthy organizations that make my heart beat fast and the people that really mean something to me.
I don’t know how in the world people keep up with 1,548 FB friends. And truth be told, I don’t think they do.
I think they do just what I should do: Pay attention to the people and groups that mean the most. Don’t just follow them. Talk to them – add thoughtful comments and contribute to interesting conversations. Join in and be part of the story. Get off the bleachers.
This will take a minute or two. It’s going to seem disloyal, in a way, unplugging from people and groups I believe in but can’t commit to. But if I do this, and you decide to join me, each of us will grow deeper with whom and with what is truly important to us while letting others do the heavy lifting for things that matter most to them.
Since I know you must be curious, I did just take a little FB break and Unfollowed a couple of people I care about but barely know. I can always go back and check on them when they come to mind.
But until then, I’m going to work on drilling down. I’m going to see what happens when I get smaller, but deeper.