Thursday, January 8, 2015

Decluttering the Hard Way

For a while now I've been finding myself trapped wading through digital information I really don't want to see, read or be bothered with. As social media evolves, it seems like they're shifting from the passive provision of a forum to nudging us towards products based on what we've expressed an interest in. Lately it's been really getting on my nerves. Facebook used to be about networking for friends and family but is becoming more about ads and sharing endless links, quizzes, and shifting your interest to what they think you should see. I don't really like that.

My life just keeps getting busier. I'm not needing less sleep. If I'm spending increasing time just scrolling through my "news feed" to get to what I actually care about, that means less time for things that matter. I don't like that. And the underlying issues of social media are still there as well - the pretense of anonimity we all fall prey to, the content that we really don't want to see that comes from people we care about, the endless notifications about nothing which you then have to find and turn off, and the videos that play automatically when you could really care less. It just feels like I've got piles of digital paper accumulating in my head, and clutter is depressing.

So after catching myself failing to self-edit and using my outside voice in a comment last week I realized something had to change. I decided I needed a time out from facebook. I chose a week to see how it would go. It was much harder than I thought it would be. To make sure I wouldn't lapse, I took facebook off my phone and ipad. I didn't log in on my computer. If anything important happened, I relied on my husband to let me know. It was sobering to realize how conditioned I had become to checking my feed several times a day. And I know that 80% of it is just rubbish. But the little ding that tells me something has happened in that world has me trained. I have realized that I am wasting my time, and time is a very valuable commodity. I have been feeling like I never have time for the things that bring me lasting joy and fulfillment. I just didn't realize I'd been tossing that time away so foolishly.

I've been getting discouraged about not always having time to work out as much as I need to, or steal time for creative outlets that help to keep me sane. There are so many good things that I want to do, and I need to find the time somewhere. I honestly didn't see how much my connectedness was disconnecting me from real life. It was a sobering wake up call.

I'm not putting facebook back on my phone for the foreseeable future. I have messenger so I can contact friends and family that way. I did reinstall it on my ipad so I can try to wean myself from the habit of checking all the time. And I'm going to try and keep my posts to a minimum. I know it's going to be hard, but I need to be the one in control of what takes my time. I need my mental space. I need to learn how to make sure every time I enter that realm I do so in a positive, constructive way. So I'm going to try to avoid falling for the leading bylines like, "You won't believe what happens when...," or "secret food that stumps weight loss experts." We've all seen them, and we've all fallen victim to their sensationalist hook only to discover it's just more junk mail to wade through.

It's not easy. I've loved being able to check in with family and friends and experience what they're experiencing without having to wait for a phone call, email, or letter. But I don't think I can deal with all the padding it's acquired. I don't shop on facebook. There are thousands of other sites out there when I want to research something or go shopping for something specific. Finding it myself is part of the process. Initially I wanted to consider cutting out facebook completely and relying on messaging/blogging/email for my tie to the people I care about. I've always told myself it was about being able to connect with people quickly, and I want to keep it for that. Leaving completely would mean making it much harder for the people I care about to connect with me if they wanted to and that seems a little egotistical. But I'm going to work on it. I can't promise I won't decide at some point in this coming year that I'm done with facebook. I will try to blog more regularly when I have something to say or comment about at length. That way no one has to look at my brain vomit if they don't want to. Because honestly, that's sometimes what facebook can get like. People puking their feelings/opinions all over innocent bystanders. Kind of harsh, I know, but it's true. I want to make a positive change and share the things that make life such an amazing journey. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it. 

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