Have you ever felt overwhelmed by social media? Like you’ve had enough but you just can’t quit?
I’ve been feeling this desire to quit Facebook for some time now, but kept pushing it away as an unrealistic suggestion.
How could I even consider that? Actually deleting my Facebook account?
Still, the idea kept nagging at me, so I asked myself: What do I want to do with my life? Does Facebook help me do that? After admitting it was a major distraction from what I really want my attention to focus on, my mind started to quickly throw out reasons why I couldn’t possibly quit. Even then, I still could not deny that Facebook was not contributing to my most authentic, true life.
In fact, it was taking me away from it.
While it doesn’t take my body anywhere, it takes my mind away. It clutters my mind with status updates and product ads I can live without. The friends I’d like to keep, but it’s become a matter of diminishing return in a way.
While on its face Facebook appears to be all about connection, as the name implies, it’s a superficial connection. You’re getting the face people choose to show you as opposed to their heart and soul. As one of my friends responded when I complained she wasn’t on Facebook and couldn’t be my “friend,” “I’m not your Facebook friend. I’m your real friend.”
Life is too short for artificial connections. I want authentic connections.
A study out of Harvard analyzed the social media phenomena and gave some credence to the concept that updating our Facebook status stimulates the same reward centers in our brains as sex or food. The study found that “upwards of 80% of posts to social media sites (such as Twitter) consist simply of announcements about one’s own immediate experiences.”
Diving deeper into the importance and motivation for self-disclosure, results revealed that participants would even give up money in order to speak about themselves. The results were magnified when the factor of having an “audience” was included. The researchers concluded that brain regions associated with both “intrinsic value” as well as “reward value” were stimulated by such communication about one’s self.
So if you feel “addicted” to social media, you’re not alone.
I’ve started to see it as an empty addiction, and more importantly, a distraction from the beauty of real life. The dissatisfaction of not receiving enough “likes” or the focus on capturing every moment so we can post it or Tweet it seems to me to diminish present-moment awareness and the deep fulfillment and peace present in the simplest aspects of our lives.
In our age of more is better and information overload, we are told simple is not enough. Our senses are so used to being overstimulated that we can almost miss the beauty in a bee buzzing, a flower opening, or a clear beautiful laugh.
I get caught up in the rat race of daily life just like we all do, and I have to work hard at re-centering, reconnecting, and remembering my true essence, my true purpose, and the absolute fleeting, brief, unpredictable nature of life.
The words of Leo Babauta put it plainly: “I quit Facebook because I wanted to live deliberately.”
His words borrow a phrase from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Here’s to living deliberately and to fronting the essential facts of life.
I feel lighter already and refreshed to return to my real life more completely, less distracted, and able to put my full attention on the slowness of a sunset, the connection of a real hug, the smell of garlic in a pan, and the steady rhythm of a heartbeat.
Instead of trying to capture and freeze-frame all of life’s moments, I intend to relish them fully. To live deliberately, fully, and with as little distraction and regret as possible.
Photo credit: Flickr