I write a lot about beliefs being visible only in action, and on “attention” being our sole personal capital. Yet the effort to corral my focus and act, applying focus to the things I “really want to” apply it to eludes me. I need to DO something different.
This morning I heard a quote: “You will act your way into new thinking much faster than you will think yourself into new actions.” Or, as the Avett Brothers said, “Decide what to be and go be it.” or as Nike said, “Just Do It!”
And so I have left Facebook for 40 days. It is the most obvious drain on my focus and time.
I intend to blog at least daily on every noticeable impact (positive or negative) that this change wreaks. Starting here:
For me, Facebook has the nasty habit of demanding my focus and attention when I want to be doing other things (writing, editing), when I should be doing other things (writing, editing, family, exercise), and when I AM doing other things (eating dinner, at a party with real humans). What elevates this technological strip mining operation to first priority?
Yes, strip mining. If a product is free, you are the product, and in the “attention economy” (whether you can figure out how they do it or not) the money is in grabbing and holding you by the balls (eyeballs) for as long as possible. But many others have written this particular argument better. What no one can write but me is the story of specific effects on me.
Addiction. What worst habits and tendencies in me do the algorithms identify and prey upon? The sugar high of praise/likes. The easy substitution of “being reacted to” in place of doing any actual work on social and political issues. My worst tendency to correct and explain.
Maybe my ideas are seen/heard by a few more people than would normally encounter them, and maybe one or two of them will be triggered to take action in their lives, but is my time, focus and action on Facebook effective?
Miscommunication. Given the pace of an average thread, the reactionary feedback loop prevents considered thought; loves brief pith. And since I tend to read between the lines and assume others are commenting directly to/about me, my investment on a single post is raised exponentially in misdirected or unnecessary responses… trying to get the other person to “truly understand.”
Boredom avoidance. Again, others are writing extensively on this topic, but the central idea is that boredom is actually our creative engine. A crutch we instantly turn to upon feeling the slightest boredom does not honor the irritation and discomfort we could turn into pearls, but rather serves to mask our fears, hopes and dreams behind a narcotic haze of kitty videos and rage porn.
What do I lose in leaving? Friends, insights, humor, effective real-time communication when needed. Access to a social and intellectual network — one I could never reach and share with if not for the miracle of social media — is definitely a benefit I will miss in the next 40 days. But I have left FB Messenger, and email, to discuss with those who really “need” to contact me. But now that I can’t engage “easily” with this network, I will be forced to engage more meaningfully and intentionally if I want to find the benefits.
I wrote in my “going away” post that announcing my departure felt like writing a suicide note. Being THAT reliant on the “juice” provided by Facebook can’t be good. It’s time for detox.
(Note: Please don’t expect supremely polished work here in the next 40 days. I am largely “stream of consciousness spewing” to capture the feelings as they arise. I’ll distill something afterward.)