I’ve announced I’m leaving Facebook. I could have slipped away quietly. It was tempting to do that. But I wanted to thank my friends for including me in their lives, taking an interest in mine, and being so kind and loving to me and my family over the past few years. Yes, Facebook hasn’t been all bad. Actually, it has enriched my life in many ways.
So many kind comments: “I’ll miss you!” and “No!” and “I understand!” and “Can I have your email address because I want to stay in touch?” and “How can I follow your blog?” In my last post, I said many of my Facebook friends aren’t real friends. That’s true. But some of them really are real. I’m going to miss them. I’m tempted to reverse my decision. But I’m not going to.
I’ve been thinking about disentangling myself from the Internet for a very long time. I’m tired of my thoughts going around and around in circles, feeling unsettled, knowing I need to make some changes. Yes, no, yes. I can’t live like this any longer. I need to move on.
I think about how much time I spend on the Internet. I hop all over the place, clicking links, chasing information, chatting, wasting time. My behaviour is rather pathetic. The other day, I followed a link from Facebook: You should see Susan Boyle today. You won’t believe your eyes! (Or words to that effect.) You might not believe this: I clicked through three dozen web pages of ‘that was then and this is now’ superstar photos. And I didn’t even see any of Susan Boyle. The more times I clicked, the more determined I was to keep going: I can’t give up now. Susan might be on the very next page. You know what the sad thing is? I haven’t even heard Susan Boyle sing. I’m not a fan. She’s just a name to me.
I’ve been doing more and more similar stupid things recently. I can’t seem to help myself. Why? Perhaps the Internet is addictive? Yes, I could blame the Internet, but I’d be deceiving myself. My children have no trouble using the Internet in a sensible manner. They use it purposefully and then disengage. They can’t afford to waste time online. They have loads of other things they want to do.
We often worry about the time our kids spend on their computers. We could be tempted to make strict screen time rules. But is it children who have a problem or is it us? Perhaps we assume our kids will react to a situation in the same way that we do. But maybe they won’t.
If the Internet isn’t addictive, why am I spending far too long online? A question worth pondering. Do I not have loads of other things I want to do? I have a long list of projects I could be working on. Am I tired? It’s easy to keep clicking when our energy levels are low. Can I blame social media? Does it distract me? Perhaps I have lost my ability to concentrate. Maybe it’s easier to keep on clicking than it is to settle down to some real work.
Some months ago, I read Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. I then spoke about it in a couple of my podcasts. I admitted I do very little deep work because I’m easily distracted. When I’d finished the book, I knew I had to change my behaviour. I made a vague resolution to do better. But, of course, I got distracted and never actually did anything.
I’m doing something now. I’m not going to let the Internet dictate how I behave. I’m going to follow the example of my children. I’m going to stop being pathetic and work on my concentration. It is possible to change. And then I shall do some deep work.
Very soon I shall no longer be on Facebook. Will I miss my friends? Will they miss me? What will I do when I suddenly have some news or a funny story or something interesting to share? Will anyone still read my blog? Lots of questions.
But the biggest question of all: How long will it take before I stop checking my phone for Facebook notifications?
Do you ever assume your children will have a problem with something just because you do? Are you easily distracted? And do you ever waste time following stupid links? I wonder if you like Susan Boyle and her music!