Throughout the day, I find myself mindlessly checking my social media accounts more than I'd like to admit. It isn't that I post lots of content or need to check it for pressing communication needs. I mostly use it as an escape when I need a break for a couple of minutes or am bored waiting in line at the grocery store. I enjoy seeing friends' engagement announcements, baby pictures, and puppy memes, perusing local businesses' pages for upcoming events, and watching those memorizing "Tasty" videos. While I know it is not the best use of my time, it is usually a fairly enjoyable minute or two.
However, more and more, I've popped onto Facebook, and 90% of my news feed is political. The majority of my Facebook friends who tend to appear on my feed have similar political views as myself, so I scroll through and aimlessly tap "like" on many of their comments or the articles they post, nodding in agreement at how outlandish alternative facts are and the absurdity of censoring scientific research. Then, the occasional veiled racist or misogynistic post pops up, and my nostrils start flaring. I log off Facebook looking like the furnace-faced Miller from the Canterbury Tales.
I've never debated a political issue on Facebook (because everyone knows how successful those debates are at changing people's minds) ... until this past week when someone posted something untrue and outlandish about the Women's March. I fired back with facts from legitimate sources (which I wouldn't have to clarify a week ago but now alternative facts are a thing) and reflections from my personal experience at the March. That was my breaking point. I realized what used to be a somewhat enjoyable, mindless break was making my blood boil.
I've decided that for at least the foreseeable future, I'm going to limit my Facebook visits to once per day to check my notifications and messages and see what events are going on in my neighborhood because there is no way I'm missing the opening of the neighborhood Chocolate Holler. I'd be more inclined to give it up all together, except some church and social groups I'm a member of exclusively use Facebook for communication, and believe it or not, Facebook is fairly effective at generating traffic to good ol' Kindly Kentucky.
When I thought about giving up Facebook, my first thought was, what will I do instead? Here's how I plan to spend those spare moments of the day that really begin to add it.
- Be more politically active in a way that makes a difference. I downloaded the Countable app, which makes contacting government officials and finding objective, factual information about bills super simple. Perfect for when I feel the urge to scroll.
- Read more books. I've always loved reading, but I've found in the past few years I spent more time looking at screens and less time looking at pages. I used to always have a book in my purse, and I think I'm going to channel my inner pre-A Year in the Life Rory Gilmore and start doing that again.
- Needlepoint more. I don't watch much TV, but when I do, I usually have my iPad with me to scroll through social media during commercials. Now, I have my needlepoint project with me. You can call me an old lady, but needlepointing while watching TV or college basketball is very enjoyable.
- Be more present. When I'm bored in the elevator or waiting for my cup of coffee, I'm going to start taking moments to notice my surroundings more, play peek-a-boo with the cute baby behind me, or simply use my imagination and day dream (I know how cheesy that sounds, but I love day dreaming).