There might be some truth to the idea that it is easier to make resolutions when a new year starts… While in theory we could pick up new habits and set resolutions any day, let’s face it, for most of us it doesn’t actually happen, and the start of a new year might just be that tiny little nudge you need!
I really have not been a new year resolution person up to now, but for some unfathomable reason (help from the higher powers or my helpers?) on January 2nd, 2017 I had this sudden urge or I’d rather say, a firm decision formed in my mind, to stay off Facebook for a month and see how that changes my life. Why, you’d think, would I even consider such a thing? It wasn’t so much that this came out of nowhere because I’ve been toying with the idea of leaving Facebook now and then, but let’s admit, using it has too many advantages, especially the keeping in touch with people all over the place factor! Leaving Facebook would mean that I would have to look into other ways for staying up to date with friends and relatives, and well, Facebook is just too convenient! No one can deny that. Yes, there is e-mail and skype and messenger kind of stuff, but it’s just not the same, not at all. So there was that to consider, and with a lot of my friends and relatives living all over the globe, this is a rather important aspect.
So what brought this on? Well, since it was end of 2016 and start of 2017, my husband and I were reflecting a little on how 2016 was for us and what we each gained during the year etc and although I’m definitely not a dwell on the past person and don’t regret anything I’ve done, one thing I couldn’t help but wonder about was if all that time and energy I spent on Facebook during the year was worth it! Why? Anyone who uses Facebook on a regular basis can attest to the fact that you get involved with and sucked into a lot of stuff, that well, just would not happen otherwise, as in if you weren’t using Facebook. Like coming home from work and spending 2 hours with endless Facebook banters? Or getting up in the morning on a day off and realizing that half of the day is suddenly over after getting lost in all the Facebook stuff, and in addition to losing all those hours, many times you also feel like you want to scream? Lots of extra time and extra stress!
For a while I’ve been having the nagging feeling that in general the Facebook experience wasn’t good for me. Or rather, that although it has a lot of advantages, it was doing more harm than good. When something has its advantages but overall causes more damage than good, it’s time to consider! I’m definitely not a saint, but I prefer ditching bad habits and lifestyle choices if it becomes obvious that they are hurting me. I mean, it would be the obvious thing to do! Of course we people are only human and many times find it difficult to change our familiar routines, especially if there is some enjoyment involved… But still, why consciously stick with something that is clearly not good for us?
So, on January 2nd, while I was soaking in the bathtub, I made the decision! It was quick and pretty easy really, I just resolved to do it, that’s why I suspect that there might have been some help from the other side involved, and the one month time frame came to me naturally too, but thinking about it, one week would probably not be enough to notice any profound changes, and longer than one month would be, well, mostly the same as one month… So after my bath I turned off all Facebook notifications on my cell phone and then posted an update on my Facebook wall about starting my experiment so that people would not wonder what happened to me all of a sudden. I also considered deactivating my account but that wasn’t really my intention, for now I just wanted to see how life would be without Facebook, so I chose this option.
Interestingly, just two days after starting my trial I received confirmation that I was doing the right thing, in the form of this mercola article, which just “happened to be” on the main page at mercola.com when I opened it to do a search on some health issue. I haven’t been to mercola.com for months and I open it to do my search and voila! Right there among the lead articles is my “reassurance”. Yes, everything happens for a reason! I am most grateful for this feedback from the higher powers because it encouraged me further.
It is important to point out that my decision was not to stay off the internet! That would be rather troublesome… I use the internet for a lot of things, ordering food, paying my apartment loan, writing this blog, buying stuff, sending e-mails etc etc, so it’s not like just because I stop using Facebook, now I will ditch the internet as well… The internet is still a significant part of my life.
So what were my issues with Facebook? Well as we all know, there is all kinds of stuff posted every day and then people share those all over the place. You can customize your news feed as much as you want, there will still be stuff in there posted and shared by your friends or even by your “safe” favorite pages that will eventually suck you into endless arguments with total strangers and it’s not like you can stop yourself from getting involved because well, we each have all kinds of stuff that we care about and/or are important to us and so we comment on posts related to those, and then other people comment on that, and you get notified about each development and then you want to comment again, then of course there are the types with an agenda who will purposely push your buttons to elicit response and you find yourself going back and forth with them endlessly. For what really? Most of this stuff people keep arguing about is not directly relevant to any of them. You can think about any issue you’ve been arguing about with strangers lately and you will realize that it did not really matter, or affected your life directly in any way. Yes, there are all kinds of important issues out there! I’m not saying we should be ignorant! But, getting involved with something important to us physically, in real life, is not the same as arguing about it with total strangers and many times even nonexistent people (trolls and scammers). What this does instead is constantly feeding on you just like a parasite. Seriously, why does it matter that so and so in whichever country thinks this and that and why do the two of you even have to keep dragging on the whatever subject?
Yes, we can learn a lot of things – if the intent comes naturally and we want to. But in typical Facebook discussions people are regularly attacked, jumped at and forced beliefs on, and then argue and keep going back and forth endlessly, each insisting on their “truth” and trying to convince the other party – this is not learning, in fact when others tell you to do this and that because they think you are doing it wrong and they know better, well, that will usually have the opposite effect. Remember when your parents told you to do this and that and decided things for you just because they “knew better”? How did that work out? I mean, you would of course do it, because you are a child and underage, but at the same time probably hate it. Simply because the intent did not come from you, it wasn’t your decision and someone forced it on you. When people are forced to do this and that, they will usually not be happy with it, and they will not likely accept it either.
True change must come from the intent to change, not because someone told us to. Yes, we can and should put our truths and knowledge out there for others to see and perhaps learn from, if they want to, but must at the same time grant them the freedom of choice to take it or leave it, depending on whether it resonates with them or not. This is definitely not the same as forcing your truth on others through arguing. People should be allowed to make their own decisions whether to take or leave any information out there. That’s why, most of these arguments with others do not have any point whatsoever. Both parties stick to their truth and will keep sticking to it. Furthermore unless you were there in person, there is really no way of telling whether something is true or not, these days you can find various versions of “truth” out there, “studies” can be found for both sides of any argument and also, most situations can be viewed in various ways, even just depending on how you want to look at it. Of course trolls insist that people change their minds all the time (because they told them this and that) but let’s be honest, that just does not typically happen! Maybe once in a blue moon? Even if so, it’s just not worth it, to sacrifice your precious time and energy that you could use for more constructive things. Change will only come when there is some other kind of catalyst that makes someone wonder if maybe that is not so, but this will not come from the argument in question.
Perhaps significant and life-changing exchanges do occasionally happen on Facebook, and you can even learn and improve if you want to, so consider the particular situation each time and trust your gut feeling whether it’s worth getting involved? You will be surprised to find that most of the time it is not, especially if it is along the “same old” issues people keep going back and forth about… anything around religion, politics, eating or not eating meat, climate change and other controversial subjects – again, once you do comment under some post, others will likely comment back, and your ordeal starts! If you get instant notifications about every single development, like I used to, it will be a constant source of distress during the day, while keeping you engaged through each notification you see. You will spend a considerable time of your day obsessing about whatever stuff you are discussing, what everybody said, what you should say, why people are so inconsiderate/lost/clueless/hard-headed/rude etc and none of this is refreshing and uplifting thinking, in fact it keeps bringing you down and affects your mood to the worse.
The other effect I could not help but notice more and more while on Facebook is that with most discussions what we actually do in various ways is concern ourselves with other people’s business. So and so did this and that and we post about and share all this stuff others are doing and then discuss that, very often adding lots of judgement and criticism, while again, unless we were there in person, we really don’t even know what actually happened, and people have all kinds of circumstances we have no clue about so we really should not judge anybody. Whether concerning ourselves with other people’s business is a good thing at all is another matter, but what this also does is preventing us from, well, minding our own business. Which would be what we should be doing in the first place… The answer to anything really is already all there, in us, if we let ourselves be ourselves and think for ourselves. On a side note, Jesus is quoted as saying that “the kingdom of God is within you”. Which means that there is no point in seeking enlightenment from outside sources, we already have it in ourselves, we only need to look inside and find it. Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). So it would be most important that we concern ourselves with our own business in the first place and not allow all our thoughts become “hijacked” by all the outside and other people stuff. All we need to concern ourselves with regarding everybody else is that each and every person is already doing the best they can and walking their own unique path here on planet Earth, so it suffices to keep this in mind at all times and regard others with love and compassion, no need to judge and criticize whatsoever. Again, some awareness is needed to make sure we don’t get sucked into dwelling on what others are doing!
The one month I spent without Facebook reinforced my growing suspicion that if not used with caution, it does more harm than good by constantly dragging us down and keeping us in a less than optimal state of mind, preventing us from proceeding with our own personal development and moving forward on our unique paths of life.
The question mark at the end of the title of this article was added because I don’t want to be the judge of whether life with or without Facebook is the way to go – everyone should consider and decide for themselves. As for me, after my one month experiment I did keep my account but left the instant notifications turned off on my phone, and only go to Facebook when I want to, not each time a notification pops up (and thanks to my new phone settings they don’t anymore). When on Facebook, I make an effort to keep any person or page off my feed if it’s clear that they bring me down, and I also make sure not to get dragged into pointless arguments, especially with strangers and on subjects I would not even discuss otherwise, as in real life, because they are irrelevant to me or aren’t constructive in any way.
I urge any frequent Facebook user to check out these guidelines and figure out for themselves how useful or harmful their Facebook experience is for them and reflect on whether it brings them forward or keeps them in a miserable place, and perhaps see that it may be time to implement some changes for the better. It’s your life after all.