I received exciting snail mail yesterday. Yes, it still exists. Real words from real people, on paper. In a mailbox. I was so excited over what I received that, after I read it and sent exuberant texts to a few people I reflexively opened Facebook as I sat down to lunch. I was snapped awake by a friend’s profile picture. “How can I see a profile pic if I’m not… OMG! I’m on Facebook!” I killed the app before I could read anything, but there it was – blind, unthinking reversion to the crutch. Way too easy.
I feel less need to catch up on threads. Since I have contributed to none, there are none that I expect will have new responses requiring my attention. No reactions to reactions needing my reaction. In and of itself, removing these inputs – these attention triggers – has quieted my mind, leaving it free to… to…
This can’t be JUST about Facebook. Forty consecutive days reporting on how much I’m thinking about Facebook would get old fast. It would also indicate no progress or insight. Quitting Facebook was supposed to DO something for me. What was that again?
Focusing my attention on what I choose, want, need to focus on. “Decide what to be and go be it.”
I still intend to provide daily reports on what I notice changing. Like today, two friends contacted me to see if I was OK without my drug. Real friends. They say I’m not missing much. Maybe what I will discover from this is the actual number of people who give a shit about me, or what I have to say – as opposed to the bloated number of addicts joining in a mutually snarky comment-fest; filling whatever hole we’re stuffing with likes and reaction emojis, desperately dragging others down with us so we can feel part of a group, “normal,” instead of facing our reflections, seeing the degrees we have changed.
Beyond daily temperature checks and observations, I want to be like Amy Siskind. She started cataloguing every “norm” she noticed changing, in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. The idea being that it is very easy to forget what we were like before everything changed. The only way back is to have a clear record of what was lost. A way to keep clear about the slowly rising temperature experienced by the metaphorical frog in the pot, on its way to being boiled. Siskind is chronicling “good” norms disappearing. I’m attempting to reverse her approach, by describing my current “norm” so that at the end of 40 days I might look back on some kind of “before” picture I will stare at in disgust.
“How could you let yourself go like that?”
“Can you remember what it felt like to be OWNED by that application?”
It strikes me this is a recovery diary. “Recovery Diary.” Is that a thing? I Google and find this very interesting piece, on a bi-polar man sharing his insights to make the world, at least, a more understanding, empathetic place. Serendipities. It speaks directly to where and why my focus must be corralled. I not only need to scare myself straight in recognizing Facebook’s negative impact on me (or, rather, my inability to manage Facebook’s addictive lure), but at the same time make my stories available for others to learn from, to see if they are experiencing the same things. That speaks to my broader goal.
I’ve written a memoir about the impacts my bi-polar, addicted father had on all around him… like a bomb scattering shrapnel. It’s part healing, and part coming to understand the explosions in his life (literal and figurative). It’s part stigma and taboo and the effects of both. I’m rewriting. Submitting excerpts to journals. Seeking an agent, a publisher. These are the things for which I need the focus I’ve given away to Facebook. I do not need puppy videos and “Top 32 Amazing…” listicles derailing this goal.
I’ve got work to do, stories to tell. No matter how brilliant and engaging some of my Facebook friends are, the work isn’t getting done. And if I’ve decided I want to be an author, I must attend to being a writer. But what exactly moves the needle?
Tomorrow: 21 days to create a habit. That means I have about 15 days left to figure out what habit I want to start trying to create… beyond writing a blog post for 40 days. I’m in the deep end of a new pool and I need to at least learn to tread water. Quickly.