Deactivated

Not many people will read this.

Most of my readers click to my posts through my link on Facebook, and then comment there. But there will be no link this time because I have deactivated my Facebook account.

There are a few reasons for this.

Over the last month or so I’ve been feeling burdened by all the notifications, all the “friends” I’ve been keeping up with, all the “conversations” I’ve been participating in. But my support network is on FB, my best friends, and for many of my friends its my only source of communication with them. I don’t have most of their email addresses or phone numbers. So I felt trapped into my online Facebook life.

When the Japan earthquake hit, followed by the tsunami, volcanoes, more earthquakes and then the nuclear reactors failing, I started getting emotionally overwhelmed. It was the last straw in the global onslaught of emotional events: Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin…now Japan. Add to that some personal challenges with my daughter that developed all in the same week. Which happened to be the same week of what would have been my mom’s 72nd birthday, and the fourth anniversary of my nephew’s death, and my birthday.

March used to be my favorite month. My whole family’s birthdays were in March: Dad was the 1st, Mom on the 12th, me on the 14th and my older sister on the 27th. When her twins were born, we added March 31st to the celebrations. In Seattle, spring was well underway in March and daffodils and the flowering currant bush outside my window was in full bloom. Birds were singing.

Now, Mom’s and Dad’s birthdays only illuminate their absence. My nephew died the day before my birthday, and two weeks shy of his own. My sister and I grieve all month now. And where I live now, Spring is still a month or more out and its dead and dreary in the dregs of winter here.

It was all just too much, and the constant chatter of of Facebook got annoying. During this awareness the minister at my fellowship preached a sermon about Facebook. She went on a Facebook fast for the month of January and spoke about what that was like for her, and the lessons she gleaned from it.

I was intrigued, and knew in my heart that I was going to do it too.

The following week I tried to just stop going to Facebook. I announced in two separate posts several days apart that I was going to be leaving…the first attempt to leave lasted most of a day. The second only a few hours. The Book of Face pulled me back each time, although I made a conscious effort to limit comments on other people’s status updates, and not post much myself. This did help, for I wasn’t getting so many notifications to follow up on. But it was becoming clear that in order for this to happen, I was going to have to deactivate my account so I couldn’t go and check in there.

Last night my ex called to let me know a dear friend of ours had passed away. The community he lives in – and that I used to live in – was gathered together, in support and memory of our neighbor and friend, and I felt his loss keenly….and very singularly. It is very lonely grieving someone surrounded by others that didn’t know him, knowing there is a community of people supporting each other and reminiscing.

I needed a quiet day to meditate and think about Ed, and all he meant to me.

By the third hour of my day I was already sick of Facebook. I waited until the afternoon when the photos were posted from my good friends’ wedding, and read the note she shared of the transcript of the ceremony, and then I deactivated my account.

I cleaned my room, and bagged up four garbage bags of unwanted/unneeded STUFF. I read from a novel that had been getting dusty on my nightstand. I walked in the pouring rain with my dog for an hour. We were soaking wet, so I curled up with some warm food to watch a movie with my housemate and his son. I wanted to open Facebook at least four times to post about how great it was to feel like I had so much TIME.

As the evening creeps on, I am aware that I feel peaceful. But not without a price. I am irritable, easily triggered, and missing the feeling of being constantly connected.

And I know the heavy grief I am feeling is not just about my friend Ed’s death. It is also about the loss of a habit, and a way of connecting. There is a space in my daily life now, that needs filling. I’m sure I will fill it. I have decluttered more than my room today. I am going through withdrawals. My housemate said he’ll be glad when I’m done with this part – I’m acting like his mom did when she quit smoking. I didn’t even notice, really, but with everything going on, its not surprising that Facebook helped me numb out. And now I’m feeling.

And it is good.

9 Comments

  1. Thanks Dylan, I loved reading this. I support your choice. I’ve been taking FB vacations for a while now, considering a leave of absence. Your writing is very beautiful and clear.

    Love, Lucy

  2. Peggy

    I will miss your posts but do support your decision. Sometimes I need to disconnect but sadly it is one of the few places that I can quickly find out what is going on within my several overlapping peace groups!

  3. Hi Dylan. In some ways this feels like a courageous, rebellious, radical act. Almost like deciding to leave the Moonies or the Aryan Sisterhood. Your brain/heart went back to doing a kind of cost/benefit analysis like this little baby demonstrates (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRRiWg6wYXw)and suddenly the life-restoring decision that had to be made was clear. My hat’s off to you. ~ Mark

  4. Thanks!

    Yes, this is a huge thing for me. I will miss a lot of what I enjoyed about Facebook, but not sure I’ll ever go back. Maybe someday, but I’m actually scared about it. Sort of like “just one drink” for an alcoholic.

    Mark…I will comment again once I watch that vid. I love TED talks! But yes, cost/benefit analysis and radical. Yep. Indeed.

  5. “I cleaned my room, and bagged up four garbage bags of unwanted/unneeded STUFF.”

    This jumped out at me, as I often feel media and social media are full of unwanted/unneeded STUFF. The people aren’t unwanted/unneeded, in fact, I feel with some it’s quite the opposite, but I do feel that there’s info. overload. Much of it I simply don’t want to process, so I tend to always have an arm’s length stance with social media. I think it’s great that you were able to identify what was bringing you down and act accordingly.

  6. renee

    Dylan,

    If had all that personal stuff causing stress and turmoil in my life I would think seriously about finding a life coach, therapist or someone who could help me work it out and move past it. There is a lot of loss, grief, stress, change, worry, indecision and feelings of being overwhelmed that you could you help with. I hope you consider it now that you have some extra time.

    Please take good care of yourself. Don’t do what others expect of you of you but what you are are comfortable and excited about doing. Love you. Kepp us informed of your progress.

  7. alex

    my dearest dae….you gotta do you, hon. good for you for taking a time out. i know how the FB burnout feels, and i too, sometimes, just don’t go on there for 2/3 days at a time when i feel it’s becoming too much/taking too much of my time. and you know what? i learned i can live without it. and i learned that i don’t need to respond to every last comment either. sometimes we just need to know when to BREATHE….enjoy the breaths, darling. <3

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