Facebook and social media can be addicting.
Studies have actually shown a similar activation within the brain as with drugs.
Yet many of us aren’t necessarily addicted to, let’s say Facebook, as we are wasting time.
How do I know I’ve had too much Facebook? By my attitude.
First off, there’s a valid reason for social media, especially with us thirty-somethings, like myself.
My friends and family don’t live near me, and, further, as a mom with two active children, who wants to devote real-life time to them, I don’t want to spend my day texting and sending photos individually—so I turn to things like Instagram and Facebook to connect collectively, to help further relationships I value that might otherwise stall, and, frankly, to save some time.
This said, I know that I’ve been on Facebook too long when I begin to feel catty or mean.
For me—I’ll be honest—this doesn’t take long.
I have a short window of patience in general, and too many cheesy “my family is perfect” moments or “look at how we still get to hang out as a couple despite also having small children” type pictures just get under my skin.
And, yes, I realize this is a reflection of my own wishes for dates with my husband or friends to chill with or for whatever that I think I desire or need—and this is when I know that I need to hop back off-line and back into my actual, living, breathing daily life.
Because happiness is not created through candid photographs or a new, cute top—not that I don’t also love sharing these types of experiences on social media or find them completely invalid in general.
Happiness is breathing into—not through—the life that we currently inhabit and finding joy there; finding a spark of something beautiful, even when feeling depleted, or moving forward, or changing courses, or staying the course.
Happiness is not found on Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook—and when I begin to question just a hair too much the beauty that resides in my own waking life, that’s when I know that it’s time to do these things instead:
I love sleep. Love it.
And now, as a parent who never gets enough, I appreciate good sleep too. So, please, let me share this with you:
Leave your phone outside of the bedroom and, for the love of God, go to sleep rather than peruse Facebook. It will be there tomorrow, trust me.
Most of my favorite yoga and Pilates workouts and podcasts are an average of 20 minutes long. The next time you’re on Facebook, notice how it easily eats up at least that much time.
Also, I can bring some free weights upstairs from my basement gym and press out a few strength-building sets within a 20-minutes time frame too.
Point: moving our bodies makes us genuinely feel good—inside and out—and it’s free and device-less and less time consuming than patrolling Facebook.
I hadn’t planned on reading the new Harper Lee novel, but, against previous plans, I decided to.
Yet, last night, when my teething baby wouldn’t fall asleep and after a day of fussiness, I found myself in the rare position of putting my feet up for a few minutes with nothing in particular to do; with no company, since my husband was now roaming the house with our active, mobile child and my oldest daughter was already in bed.
I, likely more by habit than anything else, picked up my iPhone to peruse my social media and read online news—you know, luxurious activities that I took for granted for many years B.C. (before children).
And then I look over and see Go Set a Watchman on the arm of the couch where I had wisely placed it an hour or so beforehand, perhaps anticipating such an evening’s experience.
I’ll admit putting my phone down wasn’t as easy as it should be, and that I still did snap an Instagram picture of the book in my lap before turning it off.
But I did, and I’m so glad—and, let me offer: it was extremely satisfying to carve out a little chunk of this book to have read—much more so than I could have predicted.
4. Another good thing to do: read to our children.
I’ve noticed that since I had my second child, that I can never read to my oldest as much as she voraciously craves it. Even five minutes of reading to our kids instead of being on our phones might make more of a difference than we can imagine.
5. Talk on the phone.
Okay, so I’ll own up to not liking to talk on the phone for the most part, but, more than this, it’s just not something I’m either capable of doing, or willing to take the time to do, as this takes time away from my kids in a life that already seems to be moving too fast.
I’m generally doing other things, like reading…and keeping the busy baby safe—you know things like that.
Still, sometimes I’ll be on Facebook—God, I must sound like a huge dork right now. How many times have I mentioned Facebook?
Here—Facebook, Facebook, Facebook! Let’s throw it in a few more.
Anyways, I’ll see a friend’s name and think how it really has been forever since we’ve actually talked. Or, more often, I’ll think of my parents or a friend who isn’t on social media at all, and, at times like these, I decide to make a phone call.
To a real, live person.
No, not texting—a phone call.
Trust me, this is good for us to do, even if it is quickly becoming outdated.
6. Write something.
Writers and bloggers—this is especially true for you. However, writing in a journal is also something that can be wonderful for all of us.
And it doesn’t have to be a spill-your-guts blank book. It can be simple and refreshing and rejuvenating to jot a few easy thoughts that pop into our heads—with our hands and a pen. (But if you are a writer, prepare for your best work to leak out this way.)
7. Don’t multi-task.
Multi-tasking is a myth. It really is.
No one can multi-task well—we’re actually just doing everything poorly.
Speaking of Facebook (ha!), I know we all have at least one family member who has to share the latest, awful news story featuring things like people being killed…right after posting to Facebook.
Dramatic, sure, but it’s absolutely true that we need to focus on the task at hand, whether it’s concentrating on eating a gooey peanut butter sandwich or driving a car.
I’m not saying that Facebook isn’t worthwhile in its own right.
It’s wonderful, for example, for moms like myself who rarely have actual adult contact during the period of a day and for connecting with long-distance friends and family—but it can also be detrimental to life rather than beneficial.
All I’m suggesting is that we notice when it’s becoming something that doesn’t add to our lives or, equally importantly, to our day.
I didn’t write this post to be condescending or to suggest that these aren’t things we can’t all figure out for ourselves, or that we don’t already know we should be doing.
No, this is intended to be a reminder that it’s these seized and ignored opportunities—like a 20-minute yoga practice or a book read to our child—that end up making up the stories of how our lives go.
Maybe it’s the high volume of times I’ve used the word, but is it ironic that it’s called Facebook?
Because I’m discovering that I would rather turn off my phone, at least from time to time.
I’d rather smile out here in the real world, with the people who matter the most.
I want to make my story go the way that I want it to; to look the way that I want it to, in real time.
I’d rather do this than co-exist within a largely fictitious story of one-dimensional pictures and stream-lined plots.
Photo: Flickr/Taking a selfie.