Yet again, it’s been a while since I’ve been on this little site of mine.
Eventually, I’ll get around to explaining all of the reasons why I’ve been absent – and there are a few – but let’s start with the biggest one.
As a teacher, my life doesn’t run on calendar years; it runs on school years. And this school year has been brutal in the best kind of way. I had three classes to prepare for each day – two of them upper level classes that require a lot of attention and planning. I had speech team. I had Fearless Females. I also decided to join pretty much every single committee I could join. Not to mention I’ve still been writing from time to time (just not necessarily here).
I loved it all.
OK, OK. I loved it all most of the time. There were certainly times when I hated everything and desperately needed a break, but those times were quickly overshadowed by the fun stuff, the kind of stuff that reminded me why I do what I do.
Overall, this year was one of those years that just made me want to throw myself into my job more and more. I have this weird thing where the busier I get, the more I want to add on my plate. As you can imagine, this leads to burnout pretty quickly, which is why I am prolific at my busiest and downright lazy during my downtime.
When speech season ended, it occurred to me that things had gotten a bit too intense. It’s not uncommon for me to feel that way after a big season or event ends, but this time was different. I felt a general feeling of malaise. I was angry. I was fed up. So, I had to take a step back to figure out what was making me feel this way and, in an effort to make a real change, I decided to try something new.
I decided to tune out.
You see, I wasn’t just angry at being busy. I was angry at the State of Things. And this wasn’t the usual, feminist righteousness I experience day-to-day. This was personal.
I was annoyed with the pressure of trying to keep up. Listen to the news every day, read all the books, don’t miss a Facebook post/Tweet/Instragram picture. Basically, know all the things, all the time.
It’s maddening to try to keep up with it, and eventually, it becomes not worth the effort.
So I gave up.
I stopped listening to the news and to books on tape during my commute. Instead, I listened to music. I checked my RSS feed reader once or twice a week instead of every day and skipped the stuff I didn’t find interesting. I turned my phone off more than I turned it on. And I completely quit my personal Facebook.
I think that last one was the toughest decisions to make. Being who I am, I have friends and family scattered all around the globe, and keeping in touch with them is difficult without the convenience of Facebook. I didn’t want to miss all that. But something needed to change.
The reason I chose to disengage from Facebook instead of other social media is because, for me, Facebook is the most difficult to ignore and the most likely to raise my blood pressure on a daily basis. It seems as if all of my friends are now more likely to share news on Facebook rather than via text, email, phone call, or face-to-face interactions. You miss a post, and you’re out of the loop and, often, you don’t get to share in your friends’ joy. Also, with Facebook’s newer sharing settings, you are privy to literally EVERYTHING your friends do – from what music they are enjoying to what places they visit and who their with to all of the pictures and public status updates they “like.” When, more often than not, those pictures are political memes that are unresearched, untrue, or otherwise discriminatory, it’s a lot to handle. Oh, and the babies. Seriously, I like babies as much as the next red-blooded woman, but I don’t need to see a video of your baby’s first fart. I wish I was kidding.
Facebook was successful because everyday people want a platform to share whatever they want to share. Now, you don’t need a blog or a reality tv show to tell the world the intricacies of your life or share your political and social opinions. All you need is Facebook.
So, I decided I didn’t like the way Facebook made me feel. And I quit, cold turkey. I stayed off of it for three months, too, and I have to say, they were some of the better three months I’ve had this year. I didn’t feel angry or pressured and, believe it or not, I actually felt more connected to the people I truly care about because I had to actually work to contact them, rather than “liking” a status and thinking that counted as human interaction. I liked people a lot better, too, when I wasn’t inundated with the minutiae of their lives.
Interestingly, I thought this would give me more incentive to blog, since I wouldn’t be on social media so much, but just the opposite happened. Since I didn’t have Facebook, I didn’t feel as compelled to share information about my life and my opinions with the public. It just didn’t seem to matter.
But, of course, I’m back on the good ol’ FB. The desire to keep in touch with those near and far outweighed the desire for solitude. However, I’m going to use it much differently myself. No multiple updates a day, checking in only once or twice, and no engaging with controversy. I also went ahead and deleted people from my friends list that I didn’t know very well. I want my Facebook to be strictly personal and only for my close circle of friends.
And, being back on Facebook has enticed me to get back on here, too, though I can’t say I missed posting here very much. I’m working towards a different kind of balance in my life – one that focuses much more on family and self-care and much less on overextending myself in order to prove something – namely, that I can “do it all.” However, I’m open to doing some writing here that doesn’t have to go through an editor or be all that thought-out and professional. That, actually, feels pretty good.
Photo Credit: mkhmarketing