Ah…the holiday hustle is here. The December dash is in full swing and while the to-do list is mostly filled with fun time guzzlers like merry-making errands, seasonal soirees, and hall-decking, I’m still finding myself in a festive frenzy, wishing I could slow down this month and carve out a few extra hours in each day. I need to maximize time. I need efficiency. So I’ve been reflecting on how I spend my minutes and what can get cut. While I’m staring at the calendar app on my phone evaluating how I can volunteer at school, put in three hours of work for my part-time job, do the Target run, and get a healthy dinner in the crock pot so we can eat in between piano and swim team practice… I get overwhelmed. Rather than trying to sort the puzzle out, I swipe out of the calendar app and instead pop open Facebook for an escape hatch to mindless scrolling.
The Abyss of Information
Ah look… everyone has their Christmas tree up except for me. And they found time to make gingerbread houses with their kids today too. I glance up from my phone and glare at the plastic tubs of lights and baubles that have made a Tupperware tub train throughout my living room. I keep scrolling… oh look there’s snow falling in Nashville, three moms from my kids’ school just checked in at Training for Warriors…. I’m only sucked out of the mindless montage when my Apple Watch buzzes and tells me it’s time to stand up. I realize I’ve just spent the past 30 minutes filling my head with a random peppering of information, some entertaining, some anxiety-provoking, and most of it completely irrelevant to my present-day life.
“That’s it,” I disgustedly close the Facebook app and decide right then and there that I will once again delete it from my phone. “What a time suck,” I lament as I watch the friendly blue F icon vanish from my home screen. I move along with my day wondering how long I will keep it off my phone this time… 2 days, 4 days, 2 weeks? This is the tango I’ve been doing with Facebook for years, a battle with my own self-control. It’s at this point in the cycle that I pause and ask myself, “Why can’t I just quit Facebook?” I’m not a frequent poster and while I enjoy seeing photos of my friends both near and far, I realize that it’s not really the traditional status updates that I can’t break from.
More than Social Media
Facebook has actually morphed in to a multipurpose machine. It’s literally a “news” feed, offering me real time current events updates from reputable publications. It’s a local events calendar, notifying me when the bookstore around the corner is hosting an event or when my favorite musicians have scheduled a tour stop in St. Louis. Facebook delivers updates from my sons’ school, informing me of PTO meetings, fundraisers, and opportunities to sign up for sports. The social media giant even takes away the need for me to dig out my sons’ baby books. Instead with a quick tap, I can relive the memory of my almost 8-year old trying his first taste of pureed green beans. I realize that I can’t completely cut ties with Facebook, because it has creeped into too many different sectors of my life. In our hunger for convenience we turn to a single web address to check election results, see a photo of our cousin’s new puppy, find out if our friends on the coast are “marked safe” from the hurricane, and reminisce about last year’s Minion jack-o-lanterns.
For me, this cluttered collection of connections represents the antithesis of mindfulness. When I’m hooked into Facebook, I am not being present in my own life. I’m looking back, ahead, or through the lens of someone else’s constructed profile. But just when my Facebook cynicism peaks, I realize that this ubiquitous communication forum also gives me the opportunity to be vulnerable.
Last month, I hesitantly shared photos of my mom in a post that honored her 15-year death anniversary. And each month I use Facebook to divulge little pieces of myself when I share these blog posts. While I have countless reasons why I wish I could quit Facebook, I realize that these opportunities to present these glimmers of self to the masses has been empowering too. I believe there are opportunities for real connection in this virtual world, it just takes wading through the millions of facets of Facebook to find them.