I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety quite a bit in recent years. I won’t rehash all the negative things that have happened in a short amount of time because that would be counterproductive but, when things are that tough, little things that “normal people” would be able to cope with become harder to overcome.
I remember driving to work on a memorably depressing day and a voice came over the radio talking about another study proving yet again how toxic Facebook is. And yes, it’s Facebook in particular — not necessarily all social media. One part of the report really struck me: People often use Facebook as a platform to vent their anger and release their negativity which adds to the reason why it can be so bad for people’s mental health.
(Let’s not forget all the other studies that point to how users often suffer from poor self-esteem and how Facebook can even promote narcissism, warping people’s self-image even further.)
It’s not like I hadn’t heard this stuff before but I was so low this particular week, I was willing to try anything to lift my spirits. (This particular week, I was also being hit with phone calls and emails from
nosy people church friends concerned about my online persona. It was ridiculous.)
So, I decided to sign off.
And honestly, it was one of the best decision I made in my life.
I’ve always been (or I try to be) pretty active on other social media sites, as well — particularly Instagram and Twitter — because I feel like I actually interact with a lot of people who are interested in the same things. It’s kind of cool to be able to relate to so many people and sometimes, it feels like I end up with more meaningful interactions with strangers than I do with “real friends” on Facebook.
Regardless, there’s something about Facebook.
Until I “quit” I hadn’t realized how much time I had spent on it.
Even though I was still active everywhere else, I barely picked up my phone throughout the day. I’d send a tweet in the morning, maybe a couple throughout the day — but I really barely touched my phone.
I was grateful for this change. I don’t think I have to explain the benefits of why this was a very good step in the right direction.
I thought about why I was so consumed with Facebook. It wasn’t as though I was constantly interacting with people throughout the day that I needed to be on it all the time.
Then, I realized, despite never being one to care too much about what others thought, through Facebook, I had actually started to care too much about appearances.
I found myself constantly editing posts, deleting things I didn’t want to appear at the top of my profile — even re-posting things altogether just to get rid of the edit history on something I had corrected.
I found myself being defensive when people would post comments. I found myself being so opinionated and being more blunt than I normally would be in real life. I also found others being unbelievably harsh — not necessarily towards me — but in ways I felt promoted hate.
The worst part was probably looking at what other people were doing and subconsciously (and i emphasize subconsciously) envying some of their experiences.
Although there are a lot of things I’d like to change in my life or rather, I have a lot of goals I’d like to work towards, I like to think I’m generally content. I definitely have my share of stressors and dealing with them has becoming increasingly more challenging — hence the depression and anxiety BUT — I still think I’m pretty happy with where I’m at.
But after signing off Facebook, I realized how much happier I was because I wasn’t seeing what other people were up to.
I wasn’t seeing that some mom was finding time to do some crazy thing I never have time to do even though she’s just as busy as I am.
I was no longer seeing the “sweet things” other husbands did for their wives that I thought my husband never did for me.
I was no longer seeing vacations other people were on that I would never be able to afford.
(I actually started to suspect that people were exaggerating about life in their status updates. How else would you make eating pizza on a weeknight sound more interesting than it really is.)
I found myself not thinking about these things any longer and lo and behold, I was spiritually, mentally and physically happier.
I can’t say for certain that getting off Facebook did it but I certainly believe it helped.
I didn’t actually delete my Facebook because it’s tied to so many apps, services and even work so, it’s still there. But, my attitude towards it has changed.
Sorry, friends. I don’t peruse people’s profiles like I used to.
If I see something I like, I will engage. But most times, I don’t go out of my way to do so anymore.
It’s not because I don’t like you or that I don’t care.
I feel like my Facebook hiatus changed my attitude towards social media.
The most important lesson I will share is this: You get back what you put out there in the universe. It’s just the laws of physics. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction so, I’ve made a very conscious decision not to use social media as a platform for negativity.
Yes, once in a while, I will share an opinion that may be controversial. Once in a while, I may even get political. I will probably not keep to this rule 100 per cent of the time but, I’m going to try my best.
It’s just that if I put that negativity out there, even though people try their best to comfort me, it somehow brings negativity back my way.
Besides, I’m sick of seeing all the hateful things on all social media platforms so, I’m not going to engage. I’m just going to do my part, not just for everyone else, but for my own emotional and spiritual well-being.
If you’re feeling the blues, don’t spend your time perusing Facebook hoping to find comfort. It’s likely to do the opposite.
In fact, even if you’re not as low as I am emotionally, just log off of it anyway.
Try Twitter (lol). It’s hard to do a lot of damage with 140 characters or less. (Okay, well, it’s possible but improbable.) And it’s kind of sad, but I find I interact more with strangers on Twitter and Instagram, and even through this blog, than I do with the “real friends”I have on my Facebook.
I can’t explain it but there’s just something about Facebook.
Like I said, my profile is still there. I use it to keep in touch with my family overseas but, I’ve moved on.
I’m over the hype.
Wayyy over it.