Miscellany

How I Kicked A Bad Social Media Habit

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:

Oyyyyyyyyy

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.

That’s right.

I did it.

How?

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.

Such hashgacha!

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.


Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

11 thoughts on “How I Kicked A Bad Social Media Habit

  1. I left Facebook years ago. I just found it too upsetting, just seeing everyone’s “perfect” lives made me miserable when so much of my life was dysfunctional. That probably doesn’t reflect well on me.

    I was advised to go on Twitter to help my job search. I really can’t see how it will help and I find it deeply depressing, but I can’t seem to leave it alone. The ratio of content I find interesting or amusing to content I find irrelevant or upsetting is not good, but somehow when I procrastinate, that’s where I go.

    1. Yes, the illusion of perfection is one of the main challenges of social media. I think you are in good company there. I found Twitter depressing as well, and I totally understand how even though it’s not satisfying it is still your go-to place for procrastination!

  2. Good for you that you realised something was detracting from your wellbeing and actively did something to change that! I only have Twitter and dip in an out when I feel like it. Probably miss a lot of stuff that gets posted but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t engage in heated debates/arguments, don’t have the energy, don’t like the negativity. After much pressure from friends/family I tried Facebook years ago. I lasted 48 hours and shut it down. All the notifications and friend requests drove me to distraction. As for Aliyah, it’s a big step, and a personal decision for folk based on their family situation at a particular point in time. The making Aliyah argument when antisemitism rears its head is something you can’t win. If you decide it’s not for you, then you’re making the wrong decision. And, if you decide on Aliyah then you will get a heap of folk telling you that you are overreacting to the situation. What they in fact want is for you to make the same decision they did to validate their choice. Wishing you a peaceful, Facebook free day.

    1. Thank you! Facebook is ridiculous with the notifications. When I started engaging less frequently (scrolling more, posting less), I noticed a distinct uptick in the amount of notifications I was being sent. 99% of them were things I did not care about, and it would require me spending time to go fiddle with the setting to change it, which I was unwilling to do. Now Facebook sends me actual emails to try to lure me back. It’s like the site is desperate for my engagement and yet has very little to offer me in return! So fascinating!

      Your insight that people really just want their decision to be validated is such a truism to human nature in general. I love it!

  3. I have enjoyed your posts but noticed fewer recently. I enjoy the photos of your children (can’t believe you have five!) and will miss those. Perhaps I’ll have to figure out Instagram. Seema no longer does FB either. I still like having my coffee in the morning and catching up on all the snarky political posts (NOT) and photos. When my coffee is gone, I know I need to move on! I am so incredibly grateful for the wonderful life I’ve had and my comfortable retirement so I volunteer two days a week and read a lot. Happy life to you and yours! Life really IS good!

    1. Hi Marge!! It’s always lovely to hear from you! So interesting that Seema is off FB too. I do like Instagram, would love to see you on it (or you can pop by this blog from time to time and that works too).

      Coffee, volunteering, reading and gratitude sounds like a truly wonderful life. Sending you much love back!

  4. Really sympathize with the working through of this. The best I can offer is something my grandmother Louise told me a very long time ago: at the end of the day, what does it add up to? Many things are not really bad, but become so to us because they are time wasters. A waste of our very precious time.

    1. Yes, that is excellent grandmother wisdom! The fact that it wasn’t intrinsically bad is something that had me clinging to Facebook even when it was no longer satisfying. So many other people seemed to be able to use it for good, shouldn’t I try to do that too? But in the end, it was bad *for me.* Exactly.

      Thanks for sharing!

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