This is Part IV of IV in my Arbitrary Disciplines series.
That title is totally over the top, but I won’t say its message is inaccurate. About two months ago – the same time when I started brainstorming to come up with coping mechanisms – I realized that every single time I got on Facebook my mood plummeted. So I deactivated it. (Honestly, I didn’t realize you could delete it, but it really hasn’t even been remotely a temptation.)
First, I began feeling acutely removed from everyone I loved several times a day. I would see pictures and exciting college updates and amazing, intellectual events – and I’d be reminded of what my life no longer is. I’ve spent the past four years living in New England. And now I’m back down south where I haven’t spent any significant time in five years. That’s a huge cultural transition. Not to mention the fact that I am finished with school and moving into one of the toughest times in one’s life, i.e. early adulthood, where everything is unstable. I was (and am) ready to build a new life. Getting rid of Facebook was part of building the scaffolding for my new life. Pare down, build up.
Second, I hated seeing other people succeed. I would scan statuses and see “Yay! I got a job at Harvard/Google/Amazon/Some-Incredible-Overseas-Company! My life is so much better than yours!” Maybe it didn’t say that last part, but that’s what my brain decided every time I scrolled past another friend’s “good” news. It was making me bitter and hardened. Sure, it still hurts sometimes when I hear about friends getting great opportunities because I have been trying so hard for so long to find a position. But I don’t have to subject myself to angst fourteen times a day. Hearing it once a week or so is manageable. And I can be happy for them because I’ve been spending all that time I was on Facebook to craft my own life.
Finally, I was consumed with how my life would translate to other people. What could I write today that would make it sound like I’m exploring the uber-hip Appalachian folk culture and connecting with my Buddhist-meditation-inspired, minimal self while living out in a secluded, idyllic wonderland? Truth is, I was alone for about three months. I sat at home in my parents’ – yes, idyllic and beautiful – house in the boondocks of Tennessee. But I wasn’t being cool. I was cuddling with my dog, Lucas, all day. Seriously, my day looked like this: wake up, let Lucas in my room, lay back down for an hour with Lucas in the bed, get up, drink some tea, read some Matthew Dickman, sit in my bed and look out the window with Lucas, make lunch, visit my Nana, come home, put on pants to go out to eat with parents, eat, cuddle with Lucas until bed. That was it, I shit you not. It’s kind of ideal, and looking back, I wasn’t particularly depressed during that time. But then winter hit. And I have mad seasonal affective disorder.
After I deleted Facebook, it forced all of my friends to contact me directly. Now we have to talk on the phone or even write each other letters (gasp!). Yeah, I am in touch with FAR FEWER friends. Like 20 tops. But I know they all love me because they take a significant amount of time out of their busy, hectic day to check up on me 1000 miles away.
So what should you take from my winding story? Ask yourself how Facebook makes you feel. If Twitter nourishes you. If having a Smartphone has increased your enjoyment of life. And I’m being serious about these questions. I still use Tumblr and WordPress because I don’t have any sort of addiction to them. They also take up very little time and I do feel relaxed and calm after using them. They do not add to my anxiety. But you have to answer all of these questions for yourself. Take care of yourself and pay attention to how your body and mind respond. I am going to keep saying this – you get one shot at this life thing. So if you’re tired or unhappy or anxious all the time, start seeing what you can do to better things. You don’t have to overhaul your entire life. It could just be a matter of having tea every morning. Or cutting down your expenses to the bare minimum so that you don’t have to work as often at a job you’re not enjoying. Start questioning. Start living better.
“Today we’re younger than we ever gonna be.” – Regina Spektor