I’m lying in bed. Thoughts are running laps inside my head. Of course, I can’t sleep. I wonder if I should get up and write down what I’m thinking. Write the blog post that wants to be written.
But I don’t push back the blankets and head for my computer: It’s cold. Instead, I continue to write inside my head until, several hours before dawn, the thoughts crash into each other and fall in a tangled heap. I finally fall asleep.
And now, a few hours’ later, bleary-eyed, I’m trying to sort out those thoughts. Prod them one by one. Look them in the eye and deal with them.
The ring leader thought: How did I get so entangled in the web?
My daughter Gemma-Rose greets me with a smile and says, “What shall we do today, Mum?” Her smile fades. I hear it in her words: “Are you listening, Mum?” Not really. I’m thinking about all the things I need to do online.
We read. We watch. We discuss. We drink coffee. We write. We draw. We run. Time passes. Lunchtime arrives. Time to hop online.
But before I reach for my mouse, I look at Gemma-Rose. I really look at her. She’s beautiful. She’s thirteen. She’s growing up. My heart skips a beat. Where did the last few years go? Will the years to come disappear just as quickly? Will, one day, I look up from my computer to discover my youngest daughter has turned into an adult?
Suddenly, I want my life back. My offline life. The one the Internet is choking.
So I decide this is it. Time to delete everything. I’m going to close my computer. I’m running away. Take my family back. Live a quiet private life.
I ponder this for a while. Am I being a bit hasty? Do I need to go quite that far? What if I just loosen the Internet’s grip? Prise back a few of its fingers? Reduce its hold over me? Can I do that? Will that be enough? Perhaps I can make some changes but keep writing. Because, of course, writing is me. It’s what I do. Except I haven’t done much of it recently.
I have very little time for writing. Instead, I’m ‘keeping up’. Doing maintenance. Being social. Promoting my blog. But what if I forget about social media and just blog? For a start, I could delete my Facebook account.
Facebook. Friends. I’ve lost a few Facebook friends. When did that happen? I don’t really know. It took me a while to notice that a few people have quietly disengaged me from their lives. I suppose it was to be expected: I’m not a very good Facebook friend. I don’t post very often. I’m not much value. Why be friends with someone who always ignores the words: “Want to share an update, Sue?”?
I have come to the conclusion, there is a limit to the number of friends a person can have. Facebook tells me we can have 5,000 friends. I disagree. I’ve got less than 400 and I can’t keep up with everyone. Sad to say, most of them aren’t real friends. I’m not a real friend to them and they’re not real friends to me. Occasionally, we might bump into one another in the Facebook feed: “Hey, so lovely to connect with you!” But we don’t go looking for each other. Unless I see I’m a few friends down, and I think, “Who’s missing?” I might hop around trying to find out. Or more likely, I’ll just shrug my shoulders and not worry about it. Unfriending is normal. It’s what happens on Facebook.
Can we become obsessed by numbers? How many friends do you have? How many followers? How many likes? I’ve had quite a few new Facebook page likes recently. Am I doing well? Do people like me? Am I successful? Perhaps I need those likes to make me feel good. No. I know I’m okay without them.
I can live without Facebook. I’m quite certain of that. But I’m still tempted to look back over my shoulder and think, “She just liked my page. I can’t suddenly disappear. That’s not very friendly. Perhaps I should keep posting.” Another thought: “My followers watch out for my notifications. They hop over from Facebook to read my blog. If I’m not there, will no one read my posts?”
“Hey, read my new post!” I jump up and down, wave my arms, and shout. I have to do this. It’s a competitive world out there. The digital noise is enormous. How will I break through it and capture people’s attention? How will I get them to read my blog?
Eventually, my shouts die away. I drop my arms. I sink onto the sofa and close my eyes. I’m too tired to worry about no one reading my blog. All I want is a simple life. Spend time with my family. Give them my full attention. Write in the leftover moments. And help, encourage and share ideas with anyone who happens to stumble this way.
I also want to sleep.
So after debating this for months, maybe years, I’m disappearing from Facebook. No more checking my app. No more counting: How many people did I reach? How many likes have I got? How many followers? No more comments. No more conversations. (I’m going to miss chatting.)
If you like my Facebook page, I’d like to thank you for your support. I’m going to miss my page. I’m going to miss you too. When you realise I’m no longer around, I do hope you’ll come looking for me. Or perhaps we’ll keep meeting up on my daughter Imogen’s Facebook page. I might join in with her Facebook Livestream videos, edit some photos for her, keep encouraging her with her music. Social media isn’t all bad. As long as it doesn’t take over our lives.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by everything that’s going on online? Have you wanted to run away from all the digital noise and spend more time in your offline world? Perhaps you’ve deleted your Facebook account? Or do you thrive in the busy online world? I’d love to hear your thoughts!