I had this horrible dream last night. Actually, I had two horrible dreams — one of a home invasion and one in which I was an unwilling test subject for a modified diphtheria bug. Understandably, I didn’t wake up in the best of moods. Now, normally I’d take to Twitter and Facebook to complain because complaining helps a little and because I’m sure all the people I know on Twitter and Facebook would want to know about my dreams. Or not.
Earlier this year, I did what I called a three-day trial, which involved me staying out of Twitter. It was a self-preservation reaction to too much politics if I remember correctly but it could have just as well been a simple case of overdose. Last week, when I caught myself getting furious over a particularly stupid Facebook status and that from a person I generally like, I told myself it’s time to repeat the trial and expand it to include Facebook.
It’s a matter of opinion which of these two is worse for your peace of mind. I’ve no experience — and no desire to acquire any — with Instagram and… what was that other one where people do threads and they copy and paste them in Facebook groups? They’re often hilarious. Oh, nevermind. Facebook and Twitter are more than enough for me.
So, I took a break. One week with no social networks. Except Bored Panda. I hung out in Bored Panda because it has funny pictures and, well, Twitter statuses, but it’s not the same thing because I don’t feel compelled to interact with anyone there.
That’s my problem with Facebook and Twitter. A knee-jerk reaction to respond to someone’s opinion, whether in agreement or disagreement, and do it loudly and explicitly. Which, especially in cases of disagreement, would lead to a none-too-friendly discussion, higher heart rate, possibly frustration-related sweating, and overall unpleasant physical reactions. All because you and someone else don’t agree on something. Even though neither of your opinions matter. Are we stupid or what?
Anyway, I try to steer clear of such discussions but abstention is not without its consequences. I play out the hypothetical discussions in my head. They are invasive and persistent like a cold virus, and they are equally annoying. So I quit for a week.
Naturally, since no addiction is free of withdrawal symptoms, these followed quickly enough. I made mental notes for possible statuses when I saw something worth a laugh or a grumble on the school run or on the internet while I worked. I tore these into little pieces when I caught myself doing it and then I continued doing it.
I itched to chat with people, see what they were up to, yes, completely forgetting it was what people were up to that had led me to quit the networks in the first place. Sure, I had my Skype chats but… What can I say, if you’ve ever been addicted to anything you’ll understand.
The good news is I did it and it wasn’t even as hard as I thought. I only went on Twitter once and that was work-related. Tempted as I was to just peek into my feed, I didn’t and went straight to the messages that I need for work purposes. Facebook was even easier since I don’t use it for work.
The even better news is that all that research that says social networks are a waste of time is right. I was a lot more productive without those little Facebook breaks I usually take between articles. Okay, so I took Bored Panda breaks and you could probably call that cheating but, again, the Panda is passive for me so I don’t really consider it a network, the way I don’t consider WordPress a network even if it is. It’s all about perspective.
So, for a week, I had no place to share my hilarious new advertising billboard finds and Cat’s latest accomplishments. I also had no place to get angry about people’s ignorant but firm beliefs (Ignorant and firm often go together, have you noticed? It’s not a coincidence.). I had no place to complain that my manuscript was giving me trouble so instead I wrote. Or when I didn’t feel like writing, I didn’t write.
During that time, I created about two dozen Facebook and Twitter statuses in my mind and kept them there, which I consider my greatest victory in that trial. The call of vanity is often as loud as it is enchanting. But sometimes self-preservation takes over and that’s good.
Now, after I finish this post and let it sit before I proofread and schedule it, I’m tempted to go to Facebook and Twitter and see what if I’ve missed anything important. There is a 99% certainty the answer to this is “Not at all” but I want to see. And then I think I’ll forget about both Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the day. The memory of that victorious sense of productivity is still fresh. It will keep me going for a few more days.
Social networks are just another poison (except they don’t kill your body, just your mind) and the thing to remember about poisons is it’s all in the dose. Excess is bad.
P.S. Went and checked bot FB and Twitter. I haven’t missed anything of consequence except a message from a friend from our village warning me we need to go pick our persimmons.