Fast forward five months to now. What do I have to show for all that extra time I added to my schedule? Pretty much nothing. So what the heck have I been doing those two to three hours between the kids' bedtime and my own? Apparently, those hours simply disappear. Into the black pit of Facebook doom. That's two hours every weekday night, or TEN hours in one work week, spent on Facebook/the internet. GROSS. Just thinking about that gives me the same feeling I would gets upon suddenly realizing I ate an entire extra large bucket of popcorn (dripping in butter, of course) at the movie theater...by myself. Ugh.
But those two hours after the kids go to bed were not the only times I spent on Facebook during the day. I usually checked in when I woke up in the morning, during my lunch hour, after work, and occasionally here and there while I was home with the kids. I don't even want to think about how much time that all adds up to be.
I really enjoy Facebook for many reasons. I love to see what all my family and close friends are up to. I love pictures of babies. Pregnancy updates. Wedding announcements. But there are a lot of negative things (aside from the time-suck) about Facebook. People can be really rude. People can be petty. For some reason, people like to say things on Facebook that they would never say to your face. Facebook can be used for a lot of good. But I mostly just see a lot of narcissism. And I'm not perfect. I do things I regret on Facebook. When people post things that make me angry or when people post things that I perceive to be offensive or insulting or just rude, I sometimes react. And not in a kind way.
The fact is, not only does Facebook distract me from kids and chores and from simply being present, I don't like the way it makes me feel most of the time, either from my own actions or in reaction to seeing things other people post. I become immature and judge and compare. I get tired of seeing politically charged and other preachy posts. These are my own shortcomings. I'm not blaming anyone else. People have a right to pose whatever they enjoy on their own page. But for me, Facebook was starting to take up too much mental and emotional energy.
Upon a lot of reflection the past couple weeks, I've come to realize that lately, for me, Facebook is tipping heavily towards the "con" side. Plus, if I didn't use Facebook, think of all the things I could accomplish and do. Think of all the ways I could be productive with those ten extra hours each week! I could learn a foreign language! Or read several books. Or create things. Or exercise. Or go back to school and get another degree (if I didn't already have crippling student loan debt, I'd seriously go back and get a public administration degree).
As I've spelled out in this post, I am clearly a Facebook addict. I took initial steps to correct this earlier this month when I challenged myself not to use the computer after work until the kids were in bed. This challenge has been less difficult than I imagined and much more rewarding. Instead of coming home and sinking my attention into the screens of my laptop or phone, I've been much more engaged with the kids and much more present in the life unfolding around me.
Earlier this week we made a race car bored game out of extra cardboard. Both kids have gotten hours of play out of it. And I even joined in, without pausing a single time to check my phone for social media notifications.
Last week I made these little wallets that hold toy cars. I discovered that my sewing skills are a little rusty (hot glue gun to the rescue!).
This challenge has made me feel more engaged in my own life and with my kids on a daily basis. And it has encouraged me to go one step further. I decided to take a short break from Facebook. Temporarily banning myself from Facebook is absolutely scary for a Facebook addict like me (but it is also necessary because, clearly I lack will power to resist the lure of post after post of pictures of my friends' homemade Salisbury steak or fried wonton salads). I mean, come ON! What if someone gets pregnant and I don't even get to know about it instantly? What if someone I met one time in college who now lives in North Caroline gets engaged....and I never find out?! The fear of missing out on Facebook is both absolutely terrifying and so insanely ridiculous at the same time.
But, I have to see what good things will come out of this experiment. I have to experience what it is like to live in a world where I am free to enjoy moments without having to worry about capturing them in a perfect Facebook post. I want to know the non-Facebook me.
I honestly have no idea what the heck I am going to do for ten hours a week. But I stopped by the library today and checked out seven books filled with sewing patterns to keep me busy (guess I better buy more hot glue sticks). I'm a little confounded as to how I'm going to keep in touch with people I need/want to contact. Because of Facebook, I don't even have anyone's phone numbers or email addresses anymore. I will still be blogging from time to time (hey, I'm not a total martyr). So if anyone is trying to contact me, you can e-mail me at my blog email address (ceepalmer at gmail dot com).