Several weeks ago several of you gave me the advice to quit Facebook for awhile as I’ve been so burdened by anxiety of politics and news. And I really couldn’t quit Facebook because, for the socially anxious, it’s a tool that helps us connect without necessarily doing the exhausting part of planning, showering, and leaving the house.
BUT. I did completely change my Facebook experience, thanks to you guys.
First: I quit checking in with people I had unfollowed
Sometimes I unfollow people because they often post political things I disagree with but I have learned there is NO MIDDLE GROUND TO TALK ON. Or if it’s someone I’ve shared corrective information (like from Snopes or something similar) and they never acknowledge it or take down the original post. The people that I’m DRAWN to engage with for some reason but I know it’s not going to do anything BUT MAKE ME SUPER ANXIOUS OR ANGRY OR UPSET. I’ve unfollowed them for VERY GOOD REASONS and yet…YET…if there’s a big political story I know they’re talking about, I HAVE TO GO CHECK. And this NEVER went well and I have no idea WHY I kept doing it but you know what? I haven’t done that in WEEKS or even MONTHS.
AND IT’S SO HARD.
You’d think it would be easy to let go of someone whose views make your blood boil BUT IT IS NOT. Especially this week with the shutdown I wanted to hunt them all down and see what they were saying. BUT I DID NOT! And it made my week much more livable
Second: I reduced my feed to people I’d reach out to if they were hurting, or people who share things that make me a better human.
I have joined a lot of groups in this town and have met a lot of people who I’ve become Facebook friends with over the last 9 years. All of those people are in my Facebook feed every time I log in. And most of them are perfectly lovely and it’s fine, BUT, I started noticing (because of FB’s stupid algorithm) that I would miss an important update from a CLOSE friend or family member, the kind of thing I really want/need to know to maintain my friendships/relationships.
SO! I have just unfollowed everyone who A) I wouldn’t bring dinner (not that I made myself, of course) or send a card or a text if they were hurting; or B) anyone who doesn’t – in some way – make me a better person. Maybe someday I’ll widen that scope, but for now, I need to fill my available energy spaces with the hearts and souls that raise me up and not the 500 casual acquaintances I’ve made over the last 9 years. This may sound harsh but it has made Facebook so much better because it really is simply me checking in on my close friends/family.
The funny thing is, I know it’s working and healthy because sometimes someone will sneak through the cracks who doesn’t post a lot and their post might be mildly political and a little upsetting and past me would have just let it slide because they were someone I ran into every once in awhile and it’s nice to know what’s going on in their life and that post wasn’t racist or anything so…they stay.
But now? I think, This person does not make me better or raise me up in anyway and I quickly click: UNFOLLOW.
The other way I know it’s working is that I’m seeing more posts from family and close friends that I’ve ever seen before because my feed is uncluttered by random people I’ve met who I wouldn’t recognize them if they stopped me in public.
I mean, in a perfect world I would have time to check in with EVERYONE but to do that I’d have to surf Facebook 100 times a day. So now I don’t miss the picture of the rock my talented Aunt painted or the update from my cousin or the fantastic article about racism from one of my political friends. Everything on my feed now is an update from someone who I care about enough to check in on if they were sick with a card or a text or a FB message…or posts from people who I follow for articles and information that will make me better.
So, thank you for helping me make Facebook less terrible for me.