Last month, Facebook felt compelled to notify me that I finally acquired over 1,000 friends. As balloons and confetti blipped across my iPhone screen, my insides frowned.
So what, was my first thought. I definitely don't have a 1,000 friends in real life because if I did, I wouldn't be sitting at home on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Chicago feeling so lonely.
Feeling trapped by the apps desire for me to do nothing but scroll and tapped.
And so I did.
I scrolled and refreshed notifications. I drowned myself in those non-stop; Facebook videos that automatically play one after the other.
After hitting rock bottom, I rose out of the morass and my bed two hours later with the realization that my Facebook habit looks a lot like an addiction. I was disgusted, ashamed and still bored!
Leading up to that day, I noticed how I mindlessly check my Facebook app with increasing frequency, whenever I'm waiting at a gate, on a plane, train and even when parked in the car. I sat and scrolled. By the time I looked up, my plane, train arrived and once in a while even departed without me.
Every time I closed the Facebook app, I was mentally drained and emotionally spent more often than rather than energized. Usually, I'd just read about some political article about the sorry state of our nation. My feelings of isolation and helplessness were magnified. I felt more disconnected rather than connected which is why I logged onto Facebook in the first place.
Part of the problem is that over the past few months as I've ramped up my online marketing activities for my side gig. I've been scrolling, posting, tapping, tagging, commenting and joining groups of Facebook non-stop. All of it has been in hopes of expanding my reach and audience to get new writing clients.
I've joined the clan of online entrepreneurs seeking to monetize their expertise using Facebook. We do videos talking about our personal triumphs and struggles while sharing about how our services can help others. As social media experts suggest, I comment quickly, I give my thoughts freely, I post motivational quotes and announce my new blog post and offerings.
It's been working to some extent, I got my first big client from Facebook. But, I'm still a novice in the online marketing world. On many occasions, as I'm scouring Facebook for groups to join and opportunities to comment. I get distracted by some random news article pertaining to the intellectual or non-sensical explanation of current events. Other times, I'm watching with envy some warm and fuzzy video of a proposal, new baby or even a puppy - all things I wish I had in that moment so I could post on Facebook to get more likes from my imaginary friends.
Oh, and I'm not even sure where to begin with the annoying Facebook ads messages that are supposed to be helping me maximize my own ads but really just want me to dump money into a black hole of ad testing.
Several years before Facebook was conquered and colonized by corporate marketing departments, I really did use it as a way to communicate and share useful information. My friends were actually family and friends I actually knew. I used it as a photo album to simultaneously curate my amazing life and archive my travel moments and people commented.
But now, my newsfeed now seems to be overflowing with ads as Facebook markets the hell out of me. Stalking my every click like a psycho ex-boyfriend. The obtrusive ads remind me that if surely if I searched for camera lenses three days ago, I must want to buy one or a dozen of them from their sponsored advertiser. The ads are a nuisance and the news articles are depressing. Posts from family and friends are now sprinkled in as the commercial breaks.
As if the universe was answering my question before I asked, I stumbled across an interview with Manoush Zomorodi, author of Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self. In the interview, Zomorodi shared her findings of the thousands of people who feel as if they're being controlled by their iPhone apps. Not surprisingly, research shows that Facebook has become a convenient distraction from getting work done or even connecting with reality.
I knew that already, but I didn't think it could happen to me. But, it's happening to me. And that's why I'm now on a Facebook diet.
I'll still be on Facebook learning how to market my business, but I've removed the app from my phone and have started using my desktop computer in an effort to structure my social media time around purposeful work.
It's Day 4 and so far so good. It hasn't been instant creativity and energy, but I'm optimistic. Whenever I'm sitting and waiting, I do find myself going to my phone to search for the little blue square that isn't there. Then I realize I have to do something else like find someone to chit chat with or just be content with people watching. Sometimes I do turn to Instagram whose days I know are also numbered.
My plan is to lose a few pounds of despair and gain some creativity and most importantly, grow my appreciation for the Facebook-free moments that allow me to be present to the amazing life that I actually live.
Maybe I will stop scrolling and hang out more too with my real-life friends.
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