I have spent more of my life than I would like to admit sitting in front of a screen. Just look at this picture my daughter drew last year in her “all about Mommy” assignment:
I mean, she could have drawn me playing music, baking, cooking, I mean, even “do laundry” would’ve been better in my opinion than “look at the computer.”
Some of my nicer and more generous friends pointed out that as a writer, I would naturally be spending time on the computer. But I knew the truth – I was just mindlessly scrolling away!
Most of my scrolling was on Facebook. Especially after I had the baby (note my daughter’s picture *does* include the baby) and didn’t have much energy or pep to do anything but the most mindless of scrolling, it was so easy to just sit and not have to think or interact or anything.
I am all for down time and relaxation, don’t fear. And I am certainly not judging the scrolling habits anyone here has.
But I didn’t like the direction my choices were taking me.
I had successfully taken both Facebook and Messenger off my phone. In both those instances, it was easier to quit because it was clear to me that having those apps on my phone weren’t worth the cost.
When Facebook was on my phone, I would actively ignore my children to argue with strangers who needed to be, you know, put in their place (so much for filling the internet with positive thoughts, lol). It was a little ridiculous.
Messenger just felt superfluous since people could reach me already via text, email, WhatsApp and Instagram. Did I really need a fifth way to stay in touch? I did not.
Kicking my Facebook habit on my laptop was proving much, much more difficult. The main problem is that I didn’t really know how to change. I was stuck in this very, very entrenched habit. For years I had plenty of justifications for why I “had” to be on Facebook. I was running various social media accounts for different local organizations. I was promoting my writing. I was networking. I was filling the internet with positive thoughts, with words of Torah.
But I finally did it.
I did it.
Well, the first step was finally feeling like it really, really wasn’t worth it anymore. All of my justifications, my good intentions, they no longer outweighed the downsides.
What happened, specifically, was after one of the many horrible things that happened this past Chanukah (this Chanukah was so sad, am I right?), I got into an argument, as it were, with someone about whether or not it was time to make aliyah.
You know how it is, after some awful anti-Semitic event in the world, there’s always that one person (or more) who has made Aliyah (a good thing!) who points out (not helpfully!) to those of us not yet living in Israel, that now is the time to make Aliyah. The post is always along the lines of: isn’t it obvious, can’t we see? It’s so clear!
Now, moving to Israel can be a deeply personal and emotional topic, and, for someone like me, who had always hoped to live there, it is very painful to have these kind of comments just bandied about. So I reacted. Poorly.
And then I was just filled with disgust.
This is how I’m going to spend my time online? Arguing with another Jew about whether or not now is the time to move to Israel?
It had become too much, too not worth it.
It also “just so happened” to be the last night of Chanukah (there is no such thing as “just so happens” in Judaism, we know that), and I went to a small gathering of Torah and prayer and music where my friend Avigayil told me that the last night of Chanukah has a special spiritual energy for starting things, like new habits. Like new habits that might be hard to start.
The next morning I spent a few hours figuring out how to block myself from getting on Facebook. That was December 30th. I haven’t gone on since then, and I do not miss it one bit. I’m still on Instagram, which satisfies my need to connect, and I find I am much less antagonized, frustrated and have been accomplishing much more in my actual life.
(side note, some of you may have noticed that I have still been posting things on my blog’s Facebook page. I have that app on my phone, but I can only post things, I can’t scroll through a feed. Plus, I had my Instagram account linked to my blog’s Facebook page so whenever I posted something on Instagram it automatically posted to the Facebook page. But that stopped working a week or two ago and I don’t think I’m going to relink them. It just isn’t worth my energy to update so many things.)
Today, after I publish this post, I’m going to head over to Facebook to share this post, change my banner for both my personal account and blog’s page to reflect this new reality. And then I will continue on my new trajectory where I will no longer be slave to this particular habit.