So it's been a little quiet over on my Facebook page lately. Don't worry - I won't be mad if my absence went unnoticed, and I'll certainly understand if you're buried under all sorts of other updates, and in fact, it's kind of why I'm writing today. To let you know about my big secret.
I quit Facebook. Well, sorta. Let me explain. When I first joined Facebook some 10 years ago, it was such a foreign concept, but so exciting. "You mean I can just sign up to this site, find all sorts of people I haven't talked to since high school and read all about what they're up to and see pictures too? How cool!" And so what began so innocently, that I approached with the same curiosity as a high school reunion but without the pressure of actually having to leave the house, eventually evolved into so much more. We started to be able to share our life, our opinions, articles, videos, join groups, have in-depth discussion and even sell our used kids stuff to make an extra buck (yeah!). Businesses got on board full-force to share their products and connect with customers. And then I started a business and used Facebook to do the same with my customers. Don't get me wrong, it's been great. But it's also been been not so great for me. Five years ago when my first daughter was born, I thought Facebook was the greatest thing ever - from the comfort of my home, whether it was 3pm or 3am, I could connect with like-minded people, share cute pictures of my newborn and drool over photos of women showing off their new baby carrier wraps (I had such a serious obsession with those that I've only left behind because I have no more babies to wear! lol!) all with said baby napping snugly on my chest. It was amazing! At a time where I could have felt so isolated, there were people to "talk" to and answers to my questions. Often about how to tie off that gorgeous baby wrap. But somewhere along the way, something bizarre happened. Something that just seems so normal now, something I would poke fun at but then jump right back into: I started thinking in status updates. Taking pictures not so much for the sake of memories but because "OMG, I need to post this to Facebook". Anything that in the past, would have been relegated to an area of my brain compiling interesting bits to share with others when they came up in conversation suddenly found themselves into a new folder labeled "Broadcast to the World" Not only that, but as I scrolled through my newsfeed, I'd see it filled with the same updates and photos from others (which has always been my favorite part), but also articles to spark conversation and debate and sometimes even (ok, often) drama, ads that promise to help me with my business, new blog posts from my favorite online personalities, videos promising to show me mind-blowing uses for everyday items... For a curious, information-hungry person like me, it can be pure paradise. Or a little bit of hell. Eventually, deciding whether I should click the Like button, or maybe the heart? wait, it was kind of funny, maybe the haha smiley face. No, wait a minute, that was sad, I'll hit the Wow button, cause I mean, Wow, I'm so sorry that happened to you. But crap, I'm thinking of you and want to convey that I care. Maybe the heart to show I'm sending love? Ugh! I'm just gonna hit like. No wait love. Ok love. No, like. Ok I'm just gonna keep scrolling and not click. Crap I feel bad now for being antisocial. Oh look! An article about some parenting thing it appears I'm doing a crap job at! Let me just go fall into this internet hole for a minute (ahem, 15) so I can forget about how awkward social things make me feel and indulge in some parental guilt... Anyways, you get the picture! Sound familiar? I really hope it doesn't, and that Facebook doesn't do this kind of a number on your brain, but if it does, solidarity my friend, you're not alone. But it seems I liked the torture. Trying to consume more scratching-the-surface self-help articles explaining the 10 Things I'm Doing Wrong Right Now and How To Stop, how to be better at this and that, the good news, the bad news and how everyone feels about it and how I should feel about it too, what I need to buy, Why My Business is Failing at (insert common thing that small business owners are insecure about) and How to Fix It With This Online Course... (Confession: I am already an online course junkie and just bought one this morning) All of this within a few seconds, a quick swipe of my thumb, all of this in my kitchen, in the car, even on the toilet (you do it too, I know it!) Now, none of this is inherently bad - people sharing and having conversations is indeed a wonderful thing, but some of us have trouble handling it all. And by some of us, I mean me. As someone who is easily overwhelmed with social interactions and also likes to carefully ponder all the information that comes my way, taking in this kind of input at warp speed was starting to do a real number on me. And what was I thinking of when I snuck away for a few quiet minutes with my phone? "Ugh, I'm feeling so overwhelmed by (pick one of the following: the kids, the messy house, the laundry, the business, my bad hair day...) "I'm just gonna take a little FB break to get my mind off of things..." So then I open up this little app and unleash ALL OF THE THINGS into this crazy wilderness that is my brain and heart these days, and at the same time, losing one bite-sized piece after another of time that could be spent on pretty much anything else I care about. "Oh no! But I can't quit Facebook! I have a business" That's the thought that would come up whenever a rational voice inside of me tried to find solutions to my perpetual scrolling and overwhelm. I needed to stay in touch with my customers and post often or they would forget all about me, no? Awwww. That's true. Poor you Sylvie. You are soooo stuck. Yup. Classic #firstworldproblem for me. Early in August, my family and I were driving down to the Fundy Coast on a Sunday, and as I simultaneously chatted with my husband, scrolled through Facebook and glanced up every so often to take in the gorgeous view, the insanity of what I was doing hit me: if I'm supposed to be enjoying a relaxing day out with my family in one of the most beautiful areas I've ever laid eyes on, why the heck am I staring at my phone? I mean really. I put it away and suddenly said to him "You know what, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna quit Facebook". "Really?" he said, "you really think that's gonna last long?" I got home that night, posted a message to my profile saying I would be deleting my it in a bit (I mean, you can't just disappear without a trace right? What madness would that be!!!) and a few hours later, I pulled the plug. That was roughly 6 weeks ago, and you know what? It was one of the best things I have done for myself and my family for a long, long time. Now I know the irony of telling you all about how I quit Facebook and then sharing this post about it - on my business Facebook page, so I have to tell you that I found a little loophole - I had opened a second FB profile a while back to access my business page in case my main profile ever got blocked (which happens sometimes), so I knew that I could still manage my business presence there, but I would be able to cut out the rest of the noise and avoid distractions. It really is a fantastic business tool, it's just not a particularly healthy activity for me personally. So I don't add friends to it - not even my Mom! Interestingly enough, I have actually been talking to my Mom on the phone more now... :-) The first few days were interesting. I didn't actually have much of an urge to go check my newsfeed because I think I was really ready to let it all go. But what took a while was the way I would think. In status updates. It didn't take me long to realize that my brain would try to process just about everything that happened in my day into a witty sentence that would make a killer status update. The more I noticed, the more I wondered how long it would take for it to go away. It took about a month. After a few weeks, I started to notice that my brain didn't feel like such a crazy place anymore. Sure, there is always a lot going on, and I've been blessed with a very active (ok, relentless), idea-generating imagination, but I'm able to focus on those things instead of being constantly derailed by new information and feelings that kept streaming my way before. I've been ridiculously productive, and actually in a better mood too. And my house is cleaner, and the laundry is somewhat folded, which is nice. One thing that I'm not sure I've ever shared with you is that I love to write. For years, I've kept telling myself that I would get back to it (I used to have a blog - you can peek at it here) but I was too busy. During this quiet time, I've come to realize that I've really missed writing and that instead of trying to post to social media frequently, I'd commit to writing here each week. When it comes to social media, I'll just get to it whenever I get to it. Don't get me wrong - I love connecting with you all on Facebook and Instagram, but trying to think of what to share when I don't really have anything to say is soooo hard for me. (And if you know me in real life, that seems super ironic because I'm a non-stop chatterbox in person) And besides, my heart just feels so much happier when I can sit down in front of my keyboard with an empty page on my screen just waiting for me to pour my soul into it. Ok, yes, that would be the chatterbox side enjoying long-form communication! So here's to more sharing and stories, and though they likely won't be bite-sized, they'll be spilling straight from my heart.