For years, or so it seems, I’ve wrestled with my engagement in the beast that is Facebook.
I’m a non-conforming type of person (for the most part) and Facebook is the antithesis of non-conformity. (Thanks @shanaphoto for the FB Vortex term!)
I’m anti-Corporation, yet Facebook has morphed into the gateway for the Corporation to feed on your social and “private” interactions.
I’m very anti-Big Brother, yet Facebook has given me the opportunity to willingly and knowingly place all my information out there for Big Brother, Big Sister and any Corporate hack wanting to crawl into my mind and extract any information for any purpose they see fit.
I’m a fairly private person, yet Facebook tempts me to forgo my beliefs in privacy in the online space (yea, I blog about my life, I see the contradiction, but I keep those posts free of names and specifics) and connect with all my friends and family for all the world to witness.
I value time above every other commodity I can acquire. I believe that money’s main purpose should be to buy us more time to enjoy that which truly makes us feel alive in life. Yet, I allow Facebook to extract valuable moments of my life as I peer into the lives of others.
I weep when I see the direction of our youth, the direction of our society, who spends most of their waking moments engrossed in one-way methods of communication rather than face to face interaction. I cringe at the thought of growing up as a teenager in the age of Facebook. Teens are vicious and with the tools of social media and an age of waning personal responsibility, a platform such as Facebook is dangerous for our younger generations. Imagine never being able to break the bonds of your awkward high school years because all those people are connected to you on Facebook. My generation, the Gen-Xers, came to Facebook after we found out who we were in our young adult lives- without the permanent umbilical cord to our past that FB provides.
I fear for the young people who may never break from their past identities because they stay connected to that umbilical cord to their younger self.
Mindfulness seems to be a reoccurring theme these days. As I move forward through my life, which is now engrossed in the digital realm- for both work and social interaction- I am forced to truly evaluate the mindfulness that I embrace in every online interaction and platform of communication.
I read this article yesterday from Tricycle and my beliefs for deliberate and engaging online social interactions were reinforced.
A Deliberate Shift in Lifestyle
As I’ve traveled through the process of becoming a location independent professional and embraced this medium of blogging over the past several years, I’ve recently come to some pretty meaningful and drastic conclusions. As the internet is evolving and interaction is becoming more mindful, I too need to continue on my path towards evolution and higher levels of consciousness. I’m making some drastic changes to my life in order to truly embrace the person I am becoming and I’m releasing some of my old habits in an attempt to let go of my past and walk towards my present. My Facebook suicide is only part of the plan
– I’m going Carless. The time has come to ditch my vehicle and my dependence on this oil addiction and remove my participation in the carbon attack on the Earth. I’m no saint, by any means, I travel heavily by plane, train and mass transit- so I’ll still have a carbon footprint. But my vehicle won’t be part of the problem.
– I’m moving to a city so I can go local and live in a bubble. That’s right, I’m building my own little bubble, complete with an organic/local market, a yoga studio, coffee shops and community- all within walking distance. I make my living online now (for the time being) so where I live has no impact on my livelihood- as long as there’s a decent internet connection and a quiet space to work.
– I’m purging the remainder of my belongings- well most of them. I’ve paired down over the years and all of my belongings fit in the corner of my mother’s garage. Problem is, those items are still my responsibility and are taking up space as I’m moving around the country and the world. And I still have belongings in Colorado as well, from my attempt at settling in the Rockies this fall. Oy Vey! So, I need to release these belongings, I feel tethered to their existence and my responsibility to owning them. I’ve paired my possessions down to the sentimental objects of my past and the informational objects (books and research) of my future. Purging at this stage is getting dicey. Conundrum! My dear Little Friend will be acquiring my library- problem solved! And I believe I’ll have a photo shoot of all the sentimental belongings, publish them in a book for myself and give them away. I’m trying to place all my possessions in two trunks (on XL and one small cube) and a milk crate of books. That’s it. It may take some time, but I’m daydreaming about such a sense of freedom!
– I’m working on my spiritual self in a step towards engaging in (or trying to seek) a higher level of consciousness. I’m going to pursue Yoga for its spiritual enhancements as well its physical benefits. I studied yoga years ago and feel the time has come to continue my journey. Mindful internet use is just part of this spiritual work. Both eliminating the time spent on certain websites and engaging in social media with more positive intention- rather than just filling a void- are part of this path.
- I want to read more. I read often and sporadically throughout the day. I’d like to actually make the practice a scheduled part of my daily endeavors. Eliminating FB just opens up more time for this practice.
– I’d like to clear the clutter that occurs when I spend too much time online. My mind is a sponge. It sucks up all information and sometimes that’s a little exhausting. I truly do not need to know or even glance at so many occurrences in other people’s lives. I want to celebrate the positive events for my friends and I hope to continue that in a more face to face and deliberate engagement with these people who are dear to me- outside of the FB interface.
Addiction & Crutches
I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding addictions. In my younger days, when partying like a rock star was a badge of achievement for my suburban rebellion, my father made the comment that drinking is a conscious decision. He made the decision at a young age to avoid the fate of his genetics and only consume one or two drinks in a social atmosphere. He avoided the over-consumption of alcohol and when he found that he craved the alcohol, he stopped drinking all together until the craving was long gone. I chose to take the same path in life. When any substance or habit became something I craved, became a crutch or something I needed to make the day bearable, I stopped that behavior completely. I reintroduced it at a later date, when I’d proven to myself that I didn’t need the habit or substance. And somethings were never reintroduced.
Facebook has become one of those crutches. I’m not a habitual FB user, I don’t update constantly with content from my personal life and I use it predominately for marketing and professional purposes. But I am a serial FB lurker. For many months (or years) I’ve lived in rural areas devoid of a proper community that reflects my artistic self. The communities may exist in these areas, but they are very fragmented and difficult to engage with on a daily basis. Social media has become my connecting point for my community.
Over the past 9 months, Twitter has become my community gathering place for conversations online. And for many days while living in the desert, Twitter became my connection to reality. I’ve met wonderful people from around the world who I communicate with on a daily basis. We chat briefly about our craft, our passions and pass along information about our lives. Sometimes, we just say hello and see how the other person is doing. Other times, we celebrate the milestones and accomplishments of our lives. And sometimes we gather in person for coffee and life-altering conversations.
That’s the power of social media, that’s the purpose and that’s the relevance.
Yet, when I log into Facebook, I’m left to simply wonder why I am there. Granted, there are a few dear friends and family who do not use Twitter (nor do they need to) and I connect with them using this platform. But those connections are happening less frequently, as I try to be more mindful of my digital interactions and curtail my inboxes. So, when I log into FB, I’m left asking– why? And I don’t really do anything productive or meaningful while I’m there. I’m simply spying on people. And what’s the value in that?
The Final Nail and a Possible Solution
After reading about mindful social media, I stumbled onto this article from Adbusters regarding the recent action of FB to remove the Palestinian FB page calling for the Third Intifada.
And while I’ve debated pulling the plug on my account for many months now, this pretty much solidified my decision. It’s time to disconnect from the beast that is Facebook.
I’ve had enough. It’s time for me to move on.
That said, there are a handful of people I interact with regularly and I will miss that communication. We’ve shifted the conversations to FB for simplicity of connection and I’m left to question whether or not I want to continue this connection with these friends. And yes, I do wish to keep in contact and I know that email is not the best means. I’m going to try an experiment and set up my own “social network” using BuddyPress. This will be used for the people I communicate with regularly on FB and want to keep the channels of communication open. Don’t know if it will work, but I’m gonna give it a go and see what happens.
So, I publish this article now as a means of helping others understand the Why behind my Facebook Suicide. This action is merely a step in my personal evolution. I hope those of you reading this from my posting it on my FB account (irony- I get it!) will continue to connect using the other means possible from the online sphere– or the face to face realm.
For others reading this, I hope this sheds some light on the motivations of using social media. Our actions online should be deliberate and mindful. Hopefully we can all find our means of connecting with like-minded folks and build our communities in the online space. And as we travel through the world, maybe we can step away from our computers and smartphones and embrace the age-old act of face to face interaction and conversation.
Make a deliberate and mindful movement towards your online engagement as you move through the digital world.
An after note: As if functioning on some similar plane of thought, I read the following two posts after finishing the first draft of this article. If you are not yet reading Satya Colombo’s work- stop what you’re doing (yea, I’m telling you to leave this blog) and go directly to his Fierce Wisdom site. Go now and read this interview. Then spend the rest of your morning- or entire work day- soaking up the amazing wisdom that is present in his words. Brilliant!
Next, head over to Julien’s site and read this little gem of an article. Go ahead, get sucked into his site as well , the writing is well worth the time investment!
The comments are OPEN on this one- fire away- it’s a hot topic! And, as always, take the conversation to the Twitter- @crystaldstreet because this article won’t be on the FB for much longer.