Like a smoker or an alcoholic, my addiction had controlled me.
I did it.
I went cold turkey.
I deleted Facebook from my phone.
I’d actually been contemplating this decision for several months, as the result of the presidential election and its aftermath had me focused on social media since November. And because my phone is always on me, I always seemed to be on Facebook.
I needed a break.
So on New Year’s Day, I resolved to take action by weaning myself from my phone’s Facebook app. Yes, it was a small action, but it was at least something. I moved the app from my home screen (where it greeted me, front and center, like the most reliable, loyal friend) and tucked it away in a folder on my rarely used second screen.
Like any true addict, I’d fooled myself into thinking that I could control my Facebook finger if I didn’t have easy access to the app’s bright blue button.
I was wrong.
Well, partly. I was able to stay strong in my conviction until January 20, 2017.
That’s when my self-imposed Facebook ban went out the window. From that day forward, Facebook became the vehicle through which I learned about the craziness that was happening from Day One of the Trump Administration. Day after day, executive order signing after executive order signing, the world as I knew it began crumbling to pieces.
Through it all, Facebook was there for me. My Facebook feed informed me of the news of our country’s leadership and policy changes, as well as provided a community of like-minded people who thought that these changes were insane.
There was comfort in that.
But several weeks into this carnival, I found less comfort and more despair. Yet, I couldn’t stop scrolling through the headlines, which described this alternate reality, this alternate life. I felt appalled and bewildered by this reality/science fiction show that is now the United States of America.
This afternoon, I spent a couple of hours reading through Facebook on my phone, my vision growing blurry and my energy petering out with each passing minute. I felt drained and irritable. When my husband asked me what I was cooking for dinner, I answered listlessly, “Beef stew or something.”
It was then that I realized I’d had enough. After months of scraping my toes on the threshold of the lowest acceptable standards for my emotional well-being, my knees finally buckled, causing me to crash to the very bottom. I was sick and needed to separate myself from the beast that I was allowing to poison me.
I hovered my finger over the Facebook app button and quickly tapped the small “x” before I could change my mind, deleting it from my phone.
I immediately felt lighter, freer. I hadn’t realized until that moment how insidious this habit had become. Like a smoker or an alcoholic, my addiction had controlled me.
Our society recognizes certain addictions as dangerous, and even our government issues warnings about utilizing certain substances, but where are the warnings about Facebook and other social media? Something like this surely would have caught my attention:
GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, citizens who are concerned about the political state of the country should limit their exposure to social media during the Trump Administration. (2) Excessive consumption of social media impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, make dinner, interact with your family, and may cause health problems (and definitely will cause mental problems. Guaranteed).
But there had been no issued warning. I had to figure this out on my own the hard way.
I’m now resolved to kick the habit. My goal is to check Facebook once a day, for 15 minutes, and only from my computer. I will set a timer to keep myself accountable.
I want to stay connected and involved, but I will not allow the chaos and despair from my news feed to consume me. I need to maintain my energy and keep my mind clear, for this is going to be a long four-year term.
And I’ll need all of the energy I can get.
I’m a writer living in southwest Missouri with my husband and three children. When I’m not putting miles on my minivan driving my kids to activities, you can find me exploring the region – and the country – discovering people and places that make life interesting. I share my travel experiences on JoplinMOLife (also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram) and I ponder about life on my new blog ChristineSempetrean, using my maiden name because “Sempetrean” is way more fun to say than “Smith.”
This post first appeared on ChristineSempetrean.com.