September challenge: 30 days Facebook-free

As life becomes much busier after the summer holidays, I’ve found myself in a semi-hypnotic state, alternating between Facebook and Candy Crush.

Over the summer, with the assistance of a new laptop supposedly bought specifically for writing, I have become more and more interested in the ‘status’ and ‘level’ of other people.

It was only when I was up at 0630 on Saturday, the last day of August, reading a forum about how to get past level 70 in Candy Crush and checking Facebook for replies to my status outburst directed at Jamie Oliver’s PR team, a group of people who are not remotely interested in anything I have to say on my Facebook page, that I decided enough was enough: I had to leave Facebook.

I’m more of an observer on Facebook, hardly ever posting anything personal, mainly on there to see pictures of relatives who live far away, or hear about the triumphs of fellow authors. So when my own thoughts start to hemorrhage into my status line, and I press send without even thinking about it, I know I’m on the edge. When I’m relentlessly ‘liking’ everything my friends post and nodding as I press ‘like’, I am, perhaps, over involved.

More lately I have found myself wondering if people have ‘hidden’ me, thinking more about what people post and why; it’s getting to me. So I decided to quit.

I posted a last status telling my Facebook friends that I would be deactivating my account until October, in which time I hope to get started on my next novel. Then I deactivated. 30 days Facebook-free faced me.

The first few days have been difficult, with people telling me via telephone about what they have posted and asking me if I have seen their pictures. I’ve been surprised how much people talk about Facebook and Twitter in everyday conversations, and how, if you mention that you aren’t partaking that there is a division.

Today is Day 3. I had a slight lapse yesterday when I logged into my work Facebook, telling myself I needed to check it (which is not really my job) and comforted by the familiarity.

But if Facebook is a connection to people and comforting why give it up? Time. For the hour a day I might spend on Facebook and Candy Crush, I was spending more time preoccupied thinking about it. Thinking about other people’s lives, interesting things they had posted. I’ve definitely had my awareness raised on Facebook, but sometimes in directions that I am not happy with. At which point I feel at odds and want to express my own opinion. In real life – that is, in the lived moment – I often resist this, because I respect other people’s point of view and the right to believe what they wish to as long as it’s not harming others. Perhaps it’s the lack of direct confrontation that allows people post things on facebook that they would never dream of saying face to face?

So at a time when I need to focus on my own life and work, I quit. Without Facebook, I spent the weekend doing other things, which included watching an old black and white movie for the first time in ages, putting away my summer clothes and bringing out the autumn ones, and writing.

Not only writing, but thinking about writing, developing my plot and characters. Getting to know the story I will be spending time with for the foreseeable future. Yesterday was my eldest granddaughter’s birthday, and I usually would see her pictures on Facebook. Instead I went to see her in person and talked to her.This morning my youngest granddaughter started school. I was worried that because I am no longer on Facebook I wouldn’t see the photos of her in her uniform, so I got up earlier and went to see her in person. Memories made that won’t scroll up my time line so easily.

The irony is that this blog will still post to Facebook and Twitter while I’m away and I’m still involved enough to be slightly worried about what Facebook thinks about my absence, but I won’t be able to read the replies or see any ‘likes’ so I guess I won’t know until I log back in. Let’s see how long I can keep this up!