In case you have been in a hole, I have left Facebook. This is clearly not big news for anyone but me, but although something horrible happened to cause my departure, leaving has, it turns out, been something of a revelation. And Little Lewes is my blog, so I can sort of write about what I want to. Sort of.*
Interestingly, I have had a lot of supportive texts, tweets, emails, comments and actual PHONE CALLS about this – primarily because of the reason for my leaving, not for the leaving itself. Some from people I know, some from people I don’t. In the past few days I have felt more connected to people around me – you – than I did on Facebook.
Best of all, I have felt infinitely more connected to my children. For quite a while I’ve been trying to de-digitise my life. To a degree. I bought a MacBook Air last week to improve my quality of work life, so I am not talking about a total removal, let’s be realistic.
At the start of the year, I bought a groovy little alarm clock so I can leave my phone downstairs. First thing in the morning, I shower without the anxiety of deadlines from clients in the Far East, who have emailed in the night, already bouncing around in my brain. I get my children dressed without glancing at social media. I generally don’t check my phone until after 9am, because why should anyone be able to get to me before then? I have felt infinitely less stressed because I’m not pushing time to its limits by wasting it on social media.
Last summer I started a ‘no smartphone between 4pm and 7pm rule’ for myself, again to be focused on my boys. This was more about emails coming in and not so much about Facebook and the others. It really worked and I still observe it now, as much as I can. You see, I was clearly quite addicted to my phone if I had to put these measures in place for myself!
Then about a month ago, my toddler cracked my phone screen so that it was unusable. I was unreachable for about 10 days. It was bliss! I had a phone people from the landline, instead of texting. Like, actually speak to them. And I was only available by email when I was sat at a computer.
A few weeks before that, I saw – on Facebook, ha! – the above film ‘Look Up’ by Gary Turk. It had a great impact on me. Though I didn’t shut down my account, I thought about the time I spend on my phone and guiltily, how my kids have probably spent a bit of their little lives looking up at a face that’s aglow from a screen.
So tonight I mastered embedding a video into a blog post (yes, thanks to a YouTube tutorial. Rats!) so that I could share ‘Look Up’ with you. It is very poignant and you must watch it to the end, even though, thanks to social media and online reading, you’ll probably get twitchy around the three-minute mark!
And I tweeted today (I know, ironic that I did it on social media and am now doing it here, on a blog. Rats again! Not sure how to untangle all this!) that although I never felt addicted to it, post-killing Facebook feels EXACTLY like when I gave up my 30-a-day smoking habit aged 21. Yes, I really smoked that much. Gross isn’t it.
On quitting the cigs I had this sudden realisation that I was a total dick. How had I been doing something so bad for me for so long? (I’m not going to tell you when I started smoking. If the thought of it makes me feel sick, it will you too).
It was a sort of post-withdrawal clarity I think. Although I must tell you I have had zero withdrawal symptoms from Facebook. But I do have the clarity. I know I sound evangelical, and I do not want to preach or sound like an opinionated, Facebook-hating moron.
But I went out for dinner in London with my husband last night – so amazing, so rare – and sat at the table behind him was a family whose two teenage boys were stuck to Minecraft on their Mini iPads. It reminded me of ‘Look Up’ and made me feel a bit depressed. I wondered, could this be in our own future? Could it be our own boys in 10 years?
Which made me miss Facebook even less. I hope that when our sons come to start the whole social media thing – which I accept is inevitable – we are able to explain to them why we don’t have Facebook accounts (my husband nixed his three weeks ago) and that it will at least make them think a little bit about what they do and don’t share.
I know I am thinking wishfully, hopefully. I would also like to say to the dad who emailed me today about all of this (I am so touched, thank you), that I hope you’re right about a social media backlash being on the way.
Anyway, these are just musings. Nothing really new has happened in the past few days – except that I’m looking up and not down (except for while writing this. Hum, that tangle again). Oh and I went biking through a forest with my eldest and we whooped as we freewheeled down hills. Post on that is here.
So to finish, a word of thanks to those kind souls who have taken the time to contact me or comment on the ‘Facebook-free, but still here‘ post. You raised some very interesting points – namely that most of you said you wish you could do the same.
I’m not in any way trying to start a revolution, but I highly recommend it.
* I am not on an ‘end all use of social media’ campaign, just FYI. I love Instagram and I kind of dig Twitter, and I clearly like writing my blog. This will be the last post I’ll write about my divorce from Facebook, honest. Then I’ll go back to amazing, real-life stuff for experiencing with your kids – which is, after all, what this blog is supposed to be all about. If you want to keep up with those posts when they come, just hit ‘Subscribe’ in the sidebar.