The Facebook 40 Fast: Diary of a Digital Junkie

FACEBOOK-REVOLUTION_medium

A lot of people give up something for the Lenten season, and when they do it’s typically something that will cause some bit of inconvenience and/or suffering—some part of their everyday lives that they normally can’t live without, like chocolate, sugar, alcohol….or Facebook. Now we already know I’m a self-confessed Facebook addict, and I had planned ages ago to take a hiatus from the large amounts of time I spent searching and posting on there. And I really was going to start my Lenten deprivation right at the top of Ash Wednesday, but there were a few conflicts: on Ash Wednesday this year I was still in New York playing tourist and coming down off my Lin-Manuel Miranda Heights-induced euphoria, so naturally, there was no way I was breaking contact with Facebook before my review was written and posted on a certain fan page. Also, the fact that Lent fell square in the middle of February—also known as Black History Month—caused me a bit of consternation. You see, for my own educational benefit (and, as I would learn, the benefit of many of my friends and some of their kids) I posted a different person of note for every day in the month. Since this year in particular I chose the sciences, an area I was not only not as knowledgeable as say the arts and entertainment but one that took a personal bent as my uncle and two of my high school classmates were among those I spotlighted. It’s hard enough to have achievements in Black History spotlighted anywhere, and while I don’t have a Wikipedia-sized reach as far as audience is concerned, I felt obligated to finish out the month and then start my self-imposed digital exile on March 1, adding 9 extra days in April to equal the 40 I would have spent from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

What I didn’t expect was the near panic I caused—apparently my friends find me entertaining. I made a bit of an error in cutting myself off: first, I neglected to mention that I was taking said leave of absence. More accurately, I neglected to mention it AGAIN at the end of February, as I am quite certain I posted a status about not being able to do the “no Facebook” thing until after I finish the BHM posts. Either my friends don’t read or I REALLY post more stuff than I thought, because the panic set in after about three days of no activity in my timeline….which led to my second error. I don’t have a whole lot of Facebook notifications sent to me but the few that I do have set up are any updates from my family or any direct posts to my Wall. Imagine my shock and amusement when friend after friend started putting out e-BOLOs on my whereabouts. I had to get a friend of mine to post for me that I was ducking out for a month so I could stay my course. And yes, while technically looking at my notifications on my phone could be considered cheating, it was a daily struggle not to answer some of those. The withdrawal was not extremely harsh since it was only Facebook and not the whole of the Internet I was giving up: I still checked my email, I still did blog posts (which automatically post to Facebook through a widget on my blog and do not count as direct posts), I still surfed, and I spent some time discovering the ins and outs of my Twitter account. One might consider THAT cheating too, but unlike the lies alcoholics, smokers and addicts tell themselves, I really can stop Twitter at any time. If the constant barrage of tweets from the myriad of people, groups, shows and others I was following wasn’t confusing enough, the character limit stifles me. Of course, my Broadway paramour Lin-Manuel chose Lent to give up Twitter—HIS electronic drug of choice—and did some heavy reacquainting with his Facebook page during that time, so that was torture enough for me right there. I also discovered how much I missed interacting with my friends—and how much they missed me. One actually emailed me to say my crazy posts brightened her day.

I quickly discovered it was not so easy to simply log off of Facebook; aside from my administrator duties on both my blog and my church’s FB pages (which I exempted for any publicity posts that fell within the time frame), I forgot exactly how many website logins centered around my personal Facebook. Imagine my surprise trying to get onto Groupon and Pinterest and not being seen from either not being logged on period or being on one of the other pages. I had to go back in to at least login to make those functions work, and this would sadly not be the last of my unintentional cheats. Clicking on links in articles and Twitter posts blindly for later reading led me to find Facebook tabs staring at me on my browser, which led me to two blatant cheats. After 2 seasons of blatantly ignoring Dancing With The Stars (and most of ABC’s programming, for that matter), I did sneak onto Facebook for about two minutes to vote for D. L. Hughley to give him more time to let loose and find some rhythm…I figured I ought to back up all the pep talk I was giving him on Twitter. And I checked some of my inbox messages—just a glance, mind you—and wound up answering one from a friend whose phone number I misplaced mainly because she was asking for a favor and I needed to finish an interview with her anyway.

I did manage to get my email inbox somewhat under control, and get a little more administrative clean-up done on my blog. The 40 day apartment declutter project took a detour in favor of some huge financial housecleaning, and I also managed to discover this alien invention called “quality time.” Got some decent date nights out of it—G.I. Joe: Retaliation preview, dinner and some seats at the Hornets/Clippers game that morphed into some REALLY nice seats (and a proposal AND a halftime performance from ABDC Season 4’s Massive Monkees) and just some general TV together time. And I actually got off my butt more often to exercise instead of vegging on the couch with a computer in my lap. So I didn’t do as well as I should have, but I did manage to refocus and get some priorities in order. Now the real challenge begins—not falling back into old patterns and mainlining the computer again, It’s all about balance here, and with any luck, I can draw on my dance training and use that mental stamina to try and maintain it.

"It just keeps callin' me, mayn...."

“It just keeps callin’ me, mayn….”

 

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