We’re on a break

Facebook has been the chronicle of my life since 2007. I wasn’t young enough (sob!) to have it at uni. I was of the age where we had uni email addresses – our first – that were strings of numbers @uni.ac.uk. I can still remember mine. (A string of seven numbers; I can barely remember a phone number any more.)

Before Facebook, I had a fairly clear delineation between my public life and my private thoughts. I had a diary I wrote in, at first every night, with a padlock, and then as I got older, a journal with multicoloured pages in which I’d record my innermost thoughts and dreams in a way that I assumed was both amusing and poignant. 

Who was I writing for? I don’t know. The folly of youth. I never really thought I’d be famous or anything. I didn’t think they’d eventually publish my diaries interspersed by anecdotes of my amazing achievements. (Would it be the Nobel Prize? The Booker? Or maybe the school drama prize? – I did win that one, hilariously.)

I think I was writing for the self I wanted to express. The self I half wanted to be and half already was. I’d write a lot about how I felt rather than what I did – and usually there was some sort of yearning involved. Typical adolescent angst. I don’t think I was special in that way. 

The difference with kids nowadays is that everything is more accessible. Everything is more shared. I never would have dreamt of sharing my deepest fears or thoughts or dreams, but nowadays they’re insta-fodder. (Preferably with an artistic photographed background with an inspirational quote over the top of it.)

When I was younger, I felt I was the only one. The only what? The only… Me. The only one who felt that kind of existential angst and confusion and fear I could never be loved. Now, any teenager you can see is baring their heart online, pouting for selfies, telling the world what an amazing time they’re having – and sharing their suffering. With all of this online we are simultaneously together and alone. 

Studies have shown that people’s moods are easily affected by what they read online, especially on social networking sites like facebook. Facebook itself did an experiment where people saw positive statuses or negative statuses and it affected how people felt about themselves. It does have an affect on my mood. When I see all the baby announcements, or yet another amazing holiday selfie, sometimes I feel a bit disillusioned with my life.

I’ve always been an early adopter of tech. I was on online forums before my friends even discovered the Internet. (I still don’t quite get people who don’t have social media… I think, how do you know stuff?!) I’ve been top poster. I’ve been online popular. And I’ve been burned (flamed!) by people who probably wouldn’t say it to my face. I know the pitfalls. I know that not everyone (anyone?) online is who they say they are. And yet… I don’t hate it.

On balance, I love it. I love the idea that I can get online on my mobile in almost every situation. That feels magical to me. I remember the days of dial up, when you had to wait to see if your extension cable telephone cord would let you online after a few tries (when your housemate was using the telephone!). I love the immediacy of needing to find something out, of wanting to find out a fact and googling it, or wanting to get in touch with an old friend and looking them up on Facebook, of finding anyone’s online footprint. Knowledge is power – and it’s at our fingertips (as long as we’re prepared to trawl through the other rubbish out there). We can find out anything, and anyone.

Because everyone has Facebook. (I know; they don’t. But most do.) And everyone has an extremely photogenic life. I mean, if you look on Facebook you’ll see that almost everyone you know is loved up, successful at work, eats healthy, goes for runs and foreign holidays and has exactly two photogenic and well behaved children. 

Or that’s how it seems, anyway. My “real life” friends and I have a bit of an offline laugh about it. It’s funny, especially the real self-promoters. To be fair, I’ve probably fallen into that bucket before. (Wasn’t my wedding the most photogenic out there? Isn’t everyone’s?) It’s a legacy of being unpopular (or so I thought) at school… The desire to be seen as successful, and happy, and it somehow seemed easier to be my best self online. It still does. 

I’ve loved Facebook. I had a quick look at my stats, and I spend over half the time on my phone using the Facebook app. My first thought in the morning is “What’s going on?” It’s how I spend my downtime. I connect with friends, I spout a load of rubbish on discussion forums and I post pictures of food and Dog. 

And what is it all for, really?

Last week, I felt pretty bad. Anyone who reads my blog would have noticed this! It was my due date for PB, the baby I miscarried last year. Also, everyone on Facebook appears to be pregnant or having babies. And to top it all off, there was a wonderful (*sarcasm) meme sweeping Facebook about motherhood – posting 3-5 pictures of how wonderful motherhood is, depending on just how smug your fertile friends are. (Way to make you feel barren.) It was kind of too much for me last week. 

So last week I went cold turkey. Well, not exactly cold turkey; more like room temperature turkey. I had already switched off notifications several months ago, probably at least a year ago, to stop myself from feeling obliged to look at it every time I saw a red dot. (This did nothing to stop me. I still checked it all the time.) I unfollowed and “acquaintanced” a few people (so they wouldn’t show up on my news feed / I wouldn’t post to theirs). Then I thought “What the heck? I might as well log off for a bit.”

I still had messages on. (Because you never know what you might miss on that, and my, like, real friends message me on there!) And I logged on briefly to check notifications for a group I manage (in case anyone wanted to join- it would be mean not to approve them just because I was “on a break”). I didn’t read the other notifications. I posted once on a page I manage. But just stopped engaging with my personal profile.

For the first few days I felt my finger hover over the Facebook app on my home screen, as if it had a life of its own. I moved the app to several screens back so I wouldn’t automatically touch it – “just to see what’s going on”. You know what? Nothing massive happened. Life goes on. I read more without having Facebook. I thought more on the tube. I listened to music. It wasn’t too bad.

What was I doing it for?

I don’t know – a bit of sanity. I felt so oddly grief-stricken last week (not odd in the way that I shouldn’t grieve, but odd in the way I thought I was past grieving). I felt like I needed to do something to protect myself. (The mummy posts really didn’t help. But it’s not their fault they’re fertile and I’m not. I just needed a break from feeling sangry.) I know my friends are on Facebook but I also know they’re off Facebook, too. One of my friends emailed me to see if I’d survived the christening. Another Whatsapped me for a chat. Others didn’t because… I didn’t really tell people it was our due date. That’s okay. I don’t feel like everyone needs to know. (The thing about grief is, you want everyone to know your pain sometimes, and others, you just want people to be nice without them knowing. A strange mix of psychic empathy that very few possess!)

For me it worked to insulate myself for a while. For someone who spends half their life on social media, it was kind of drastic, but also kind of okay. It’s been a week now and I don’t really miss it any more. That’s not to say I won’t go back. When I first went “on a break”, I thought I’d struggle to make a week. Now it’s a week, I think, I might as well leave it for a bit longer. I have friends who hardly ever go on Facebook, and they’re just fine.

Right now, I have a battle to fight.

Right now, we’re on a break.*

  
(*I reserve the right, like Rachel, to demand the reinstatement of all relationship rules STAT.)

Advertisements

36 comments

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    A few years ago I was annoyed at Facebook over some privacy thing and in the end I decided to permintnantly delete it! And I haven’t gone back, which some days still amazes me. So I am now one of the 5 people left on the planet without facebook. Being without also has its pitfalls, so I like your approach of taking a break. I hope it brings you some peace and mostly I just hope you can avoid all that baby/pregnancy stuff being in your face constantly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Haha! I was thinking of you when I wrote some people don’t have FB! I don’t know how you cope… Haha. (Perfectly happily!) I think on the one hand, it’s tough to have your life always on show like that, but equally I think it’s a good thing in terms of staying connected to people. I have folk who I speak with a lot on FB but hardly ever in real life as we don’t live close by. But I do edit my friends list quite heavily – not in the way that I defriend people but I do limit what I post to Acquaintances (an easy category on FB to set up). So I’m only interacting in a regular way with a smaller group. I think I’d miss it if I didn’t have it at all, but I’ve done okay staying off so far! And definitely on the baby/pregnancy bit!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. EmilyMaine

    Hehe firstly I laughed at the Friends reference. I have just reindulged with the whole 10 seasons in Netflix. Damn I love that show!

    As you know Facebook and I are also on a break at the mo and I feel pretty much the same as you. Missed it dreadfully to begin with but now a week has passed I am doing ok. Today I was actually so productive in the afternoon it was scary. If I could get more of that happening it would be grand. I think it is good to take a break from the addictive behaviour if nothing else 🙂 Go you!

    Like

    • Nara

      I might have known you’d like Friends! I love Friends! 🙂 It’s not really cool any more and I know some people think it’s boring but we grew up with it so we love it. In the UK it’s on our digital freeview channels all the time, especially at the weekend, which is great as we just have it on in the background. I think so much of my youth is defined by moments in Friends! 🙂

      I think we are the same re FB. I do miss it but I think it’s good to break the compulsion to check it all the time. I’ve been busy at work too which helps! Working till 1am last night – eek! I like the chat and stuff but just need a break for a bit. I did it before when I split up with my ex and it did help not to be out there, selling my life a bit! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. babydreamsandlove

    I go through similar phases. Sometimes deleting the app is enough on my phone – othertimes Ive deactivated it. Once I went as far to get my best friend to deactivate it, and change the password. Then made her swear to keep me from begging her to let me log in for a week. It was probably the best week ever! But I did miss out on so much else. Sometimes I wish we lived in a day and age where social network wasn’t so huge and an actual text or email was a “thing”

    Like

    • Nara

      Ha! I’ve never deleted the app before. I should do that. If there were a way to manage groups outside of the app (like the Pages app for pages) then I’d do that – I’d just feel a bit guilty not to check on my group every now and then in case people want to join or whatever. As I’m the only admin! Also the idea of it was to get people talking in our community so I need to check it once in a while!

      Laughing my head off at you making your friend keep your password. That is hilarious!!!!

      Like

      • babydreamsandlove

        Hmm yeah thats true! Hard when they do it that way ae!! And hahaha yes. It was a much enjoyed break though. I think the world has turned into a colony of fb addicts haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. pinksnow78

    I barely logged on last week due to the Motherhood challenge taking over my entire wall!! Whenever I’ve taken breaks before, I’ve just found myself with more time to do stuff and people contact you in other ways and vice versa. Hark to the days of picking up a landline telephone and giving someone a call!! X x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Yeah, I feel ya! I miss chats too… I was saying to T how nobody does it any more… Apart from him! He often has long calls with his friends. Thing is, my BFF lives overseas so we mainly Whatsapp. I do have occasional calls with my friend in the US but the others is more FB messenger, texts or Whatsapp. I have one friend I email semi regularly (we do long emails!) but I just don’t think people talk on the phone so much any more! My mum likes to, but that’s it!

      Like

  5. katherinegoins

    This was awkward. I’m a 25 year old teacher who lives in a small town of 500 people. It’s one of those communities where everyone knows everything and not much is private. My husband and I have been married for over a year and have been trying to get pregnant for 11 months.We haven’t told anyone that were trying to conceive.After lot of try , we are searching on internet and then read this Book (infertilitytreated.tumblr.com) from cover to cover and learning how whole holistic approach can put power back in your hands rather than relying on drugs and doctor’s. I have followed the natural recommendations, altered the necessary elements in my lifestyle that were inhibiting my fertility and I must say this (pregnancymiracles.tumblr.com) program was the only program that made a real difference in my life. I am about to give birth to my first child after 2 years of tests, drugs and disappointments.I Thanking for Infertility Miracle

    Like

  6. Recurrently Unlucky

    I’m one of the few who never had a Facebook account. So eternal break for me! It all just feels too fake for me, anyone can edit their lives enough to make it look perfect. Then there seems to be an eternal competition to see who is the happiest or whatever. Of course I’m missing out on some good stuff too, but I don’t mind… Glad you’re enjoying your break!

    Like

    • Nara

      That is crazy! Wow! I do think sometimes it can be a bit fake, but overall it’s no more fake than going on a date or to an interview or something – people mainly present their best selves. And I think the truth is, people with kids usually ARE obsessed with their kids… And that’s okay. I post lots of pictures of my dog and food! I think it’s good to keep up casual connections that would probably die out if we didn’t have that way of staying in touch. But it’s no substitute for real life – it’s more additive, if you get what I mean. I think like all things it can be difficult if you (I) are going through a tough patch… I always find it hard to see people in real life and online when I am feeling bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. sjcaise

    I quit Facebook cold turkey in July after my miscarriage. For me, it was one of the best decisions I could have made in my grieving process. So much of what you said rings true for me. I probably could go back on but I’ve found that I don’t miss it or even think about it much anymore. Enjoy your break!

    Like

    • Nara

      Thanks! I was a bit the same although I did find going back as if nothing had happened helped! I didn’t tell a lot of people about the miscarriage – those I did, it was by text and I didn’t really want to talk about it. (They tried!) I’m wondering when I will go back on. Maybe this week or maybe in a few months! I think I’d miss it if I never went on again although I’m not missing it that much now.

      Like

  8. 30yr old nothing

    I’m taking an FB break as well. I take breaks when FB stops making me smile. I do go through withdrawals though. Right now I have the app hidden but I think I’m just going to delete the app. I know nothing on FB is real but that upsets me even more. That people I actually know aren’t being their true selves. I’d rather just keep in contact on Whatsapp. I’m trying to get into Snapchat now. At least it’s baby free.
    Enjoy the break!!!

    Like

    • Nara

      I think that’s a good way to look at it. It really wasn’t making me smile… It was making me feel sad/angry (sangry!). Like seriously, I think I have a problem when I’m mad at people for posting loads of pictures of their kids. It’s not their problem – it’s my problem. So best off to avoid it for a while.

      I don’t know about not true selves… I think people are a version of themselves, but they’re usually trying to show the best version. I think that’s natural. Nobody wants to post boring stuff! 🙂

      Like

  9. Courtney

    So, I refused to do anything on FB that wasn’t related to my running club for YEARS because of our infertility. I only posted race information for those in our running group and never even announced once I was finally pregnant. About 2 weeks after Matthew was born, I broke down and posted a photo of him and… I’ve been a shameless poster ever since. 😉 When we were struggling so, I just could not take all of the birth and pregnancy announcements. Once we had a baby, I did make it very clear on FB that we struggled a great deal (I was NOT vague in what we went through) but then I was a pretty avid FB user after that. Then it because a life-line of sorts for me with staying home and all and… well… I’m addicted to it.

    I think it’s GREAT that you unplugged a bit. Like you, my very first thought in the morning is, “what’s new on FB?” It drives Brian crazy to see me on my phone checking FB before I’m even out of bed. But, I have so many international friends that there’s always something new.

    I hope you’re enjoying your break on your terms and I’m glad you realized there’s more to life than FB. I need to realize that too.

    Like

    • Nara

      Thanks! I think it is difficult to strike that balance sometimes. I know some people hate FB and I like it generally… I do think in tough times it is natural to want to take a time out every now and then. But it is an important tool to connect people especially if as you say, you’re at home.

      I am like you – I check FB and my phone (WP, Internet generally!) when I’m lying in bed at both ends of the day. Probably not great for my sleep patterns! I do like the fact that it helps geographically disparate folk keep in touch! And it’s sort of less formal than writing an email – you can just casually connect (liking someone’s picture or commenting on a status) rather than going through a whole big formal letter!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. flatwhitetogo85

    Well done Nara! It will hopefully do you a world of good.

    So much about this post really hit home. Your comment about being the “only one who felt that kind of existential angst and confusion and fear that I could never be loved” perfectly reflects the way I felt growing up (and still do). If other people wrote diaries they’d always be along the lines of “Today I ate breakfast then walked the dog”, whereas I would write pages and pages of FEELINGS.

    I found the Motherhood Challenge thing quite painful, but I must admit that when I saw it all one of my first thoughts was “This must feel unbelievably shit for Nara”. I almost messaged you to see how you were holding up, but then I didn’t want to draw your attention to all the Motherhood Challenge crap if you hadn’t already seen it (fat chance, I know!). I’m really sorry. Last week must have been really horrible for you 😦

    What you say about people having (or seeming to have) extremely photogenic lives is so true. Just remember that 99.9% of the time it’s nowhere near as good as it looks, as only the best bits are broadcast to the world (and even then, via a filter!). Over the past 10 days I put a few holiday photos up (a selfie of us in the pool in the sun, instagrammed shots of drinks we had etc). I freely admit that I did it so people would think “Flatwhite knows how to have fun” or “Flatwhite isn’t quite such a miserable cow as I thought she was”. The reality is, I actually had a total of 2 drinks in 10 days. Hardly a wild holiday ;)! I’m sure it’s the same for everyone else out there. I’m sure many people will have seen your Disney photos and been incredibly jealous and thought it was just a laugh a minute; almost nobody would guess that much of the holiday was tough as your period came and you were temporarily escaping from infertility and IVF hell.

    Anyway, sorry for the massive post! How are you feeling this week? Any better for avoiding Facebook?! 🙂 x

    Like

    • Nara

      Hahaha. Never apologise for massive posts. Have you seen the size of my usual blethering?! 🙂

      I’m glad that it’s not just me. I think as an adolescent in the 90s (I’m guessing from your user name you might be a few years younger!) it was all about existential angst. I started off my diary very procedurally as a child (“Today I did this and this and this”) but as I got older it was much more about the FEELS. I’m sort of glad I don’t have those diaries any more although I have a feeling they are meant to be on their way to me from my ex! Hope he didn’t read them! I stopped writing it once we moved in together as it would have been a bit weird to sit writing in bed like I used to… But it is very cathartic!

      Thank you for thinking of me. I can’t lay claim to be the only one who found the motherhood stuff difficult. I think it is an everyday occurrence for infertiles. I don’t usually feel that bad about it – I’m used to it – but last week really stung. It was just bad timing all round!

      I am sure that everyone filters their lives! I think I’m aware of it, but also I think we share a lot more nowadays than people used to, so it somehow feels self-indulgent or overly dramatic if you ever post any misery stuff. I don’t know. Personally I’m not a misery sharer… When I was going through my separation, I didn’t mention anything about it on FB although I did message a few people to explain. It somehow doesn’t seem the right platform to share misery, although people I know do! I was very moved by the I Had A Miscarriage campaign, but I knew I didn’t want to talk about it on FB – it’s a shame really that people don’t, but then equally I found it REALLY hard to talk about in real life when I met people who knew. I just wanted them to talk about something else! Maybe I’m repressed! 🙂

      Off to see the miracle doc today so feeling quite optimistic! Time will tell! 😀

      Like

  11. RJ

    I deleted my FB right after I got engaged as I wanted to tell everyone myself. Four years and three miscarriages later, I am so grateful I never went back as it would be torture for me to see everyone’s seemingly happy families and easy pregnancies. Funny how things work out. Btw, blogs are my FB now…a wonderfully supportive community of people who’ve been there and totally get it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. andthewindscreamsmary

    Facebook is the worst. I have gone on many breaks – deleting my account, deleting the app, unfollowing lots of people. It can be the worst at times and just sucks up time. I do like it for the spreading of information, like newsworthy information, but I don’t like the humblebragging and phonies and show offs. Ugh.

    Like

    • Nara

      I like it generally. I just couldn’t deal with it that week and I haven’t been back. It’s not a big deal (I hope) – I’m sure that I’ll go back. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in a month. Or longer! I think I would miss it if I stayed away. It’s just good to have a break now and then. X

      Liked by 1 person

  13. ourgreatestdesire

    I’ve never done the break from fb thing, but I’m not on it nearly as much as I was before L came to live with us. I also don’t most as much as I used to because most of what we do now involves her and I can’t post pics of her. 😦

    Like

Tell us your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s