Rachel Heath

Intentional Living: learning to be fully present

On Living in Relationship Without Facebook

simplicity bannerI know, it’s March 9th, and I haven’t shared anything about our No Social Media February, or our Purging and Nesting March. I’ve written and revised several drafts of this and each pass brings up new things for me to process, so I’ve been putting off the final posting.

Because I update social media for a handful of my clients, I had to get on Facebook a couple times during February, and each time, there were more notifications. At first it made me feel like I was missing out on life; I had a little withdrawal anxiety. But I started to care a little less, every time.

I was surprised how easy it was after the first couple days. I really stopped thinking about what I was missing… stopped thinking about the myriad witty ways I could sum up that experience for my status; stopped thinking about instagramming that cute picture of Izzy; stopped thinking about tweeting that headline. I stopped missing out because I was picking the perfect filter for a photograph or replying to a comment.

I stopped thinking about sharing my life on the internet and started living it, completely present, in the moment. I don’t think there’s something wrong with all these things, but I’ve discovered through this process that social media had become another means, just like my hair, of molding my identity to fit into some ideal.

I feel newly liberated from the expectations of others. Because I stopped sharing the daily details of my life, stopped receiving constant feedback, and stopped comparing them with the details shared by others, I stopped caring about the feedback and where I fell in the comparison.

Some combination of this freedom and added time on my hands allowed me to start writing more. I published a couple blog posts this month that felt scary and personal which got a surprising amount of traffic. But my journal is doubly full of stuff I wrote just for myself, and I haven’t journaled in months.

When you decide to live instead of craft a digital life that looks just-so for the benefit of others, it’s risky. Relationship is not safe.

A friend and I were talking last week about relationship – that it inherently requires risk and trust, and that if you aren’t putting yourself in a position where you could potentially get hurt, you’re missing out on the full potential of that friendship. I’m enough of an introvert that social media can enable me to fully withdraw from the real world, and this month forced me to risk with the right people instead of the full sphere of everyone I know on Facebook.

As we’ve given up social media this month, I have felt isolated, a little bored, and… surprisingly peaceful. I’ve yearned for relationship, and couldn’t fill the void with status updates from people I haven’t talked to in a decade. Instead, I’ve filled it day-to-day and face-to-face with my family, through phone conversations with cherished long-distance confidants, and over coffee dates, dinners, walks, and yoga sessions with old friends.

Surface relationships conducted through the screen of my iPhone are being replaced by messy, authentic, deep relationships with the people who matter most to me, people whose feedback I really value and who have authority to speak into my life.  Over the shouting and clamour of children; over the stirring of pots and pans; over long evenings, glasses of red wine, laughter, and many, many dirty dishes; this is where my heart has found relationship this month. And it’s better than Siri, that’s for damn sure.

I fully realize the irony of this entire post given the fact that I’m sharing it on the internet, via social media channels, my life out there for everyone to see. This difference lately is that I’m living my life in the real world and just writing about it here.

I’m not writing this to tell you the “right way” to use social media, but to challenge you to look at your own habits. When we came up with this Year of Simplicity, nearly everyone I asked listed Facebook as a major distraction from the important things in life, so I have to imagine I’m not the only one who felt controlled by it without even realizing it. For me, the issues went much deeper than wasted time and energy, and I’m still sorting them out.

Speaking of sorting things out… we’re spending this month getting rid of crap and organizing our home. Embarrassing photos of our closets to follow.

Did anyone else give up social media with us? If not, do you feel like you could benefit from a break?

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5 thoughts on “On Living in Relationship Without Facebook

  1. Interesting post. I deleted my Facebook and LinkedIn profile at the start of February and put up my Twitter account for deletion. I did it primarily to study if I could become a person with a limited footprint but I cannot stop blogging because its not as regular and my blog is linked to my job.

    Though I will be back on these platforms again, it did show me, that to some extent, one can become a ghost in the networked world of social media today.

  2. Weel,, this is very convicting. I’m going to have to do some thinking on this… Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. It can be such a time-sucker and stressor, I agree. At least from a writer perspective, there is an investment in the “platform” piece that is part n’ parcel with the writing gig. But your points are very well taken. Hoping to still achieve a middle ground with all this hyper media focus.

  4. Well put. Totally agree

  5. Pingback: My Face and Your Face | Today's Eternity

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