I wanted to jot down a few thoughts that ran through my mind during a conversation with friends last night. And you'll be happy to know that this'll be a positive post, which is rare for me!
A friend was talking about a friend of hers who obsesses about Facebook: she takes careful note of who "likes" which posts, and is upset when (for example) someone who typically "likes" her posts fails to react to some new post. I chuckled a little only because the obsession was so extreme ... but inside, I felt pretty sad because it represented a frighteningly accurate description of how I felt when I used to spend time on Facebook. As luck would have it — and I say luck because it was definitely not initiated by any particular foresight on my part — I shut down my Facebook account a couple of months ago. I shut it down because I was sick of how using Facebook made me feel: like I was inferior to everyone else, like I was despised by most of the people I knew (though it encouraged me to seek their approval unceasingly), like I could never do enough or be witty enough or gain enough followers. Occasionally, I got into fights about political / social / religious topics, and I would check and check and check my phone late into the night, refreshing to see more hateful comments roll in, sleep fitfully, and then, upon waking, immediately resume the misery before even leaving the bed. Ugh. I shudder to think of it even now. But, at the time, it seemed normal to me; it was simply how one used Facebook, and it hardly occurred to me that one could feel differently about such matters. The people whose experiences on the platform were highly positive were as foreign to me as their successes; I'm not a young, hot, fitness guru, or a crafty mom blogger, or a theologian, or a conspiracy theorist, or any of the other archetypes that seem to succeed there.
Anyway, upon hearing the story of the friend's friend, I realized that I hadn't felt those awful feelings in months. It's wonderful! I feel so light and free! I still use Twitter, but for some reason, it's not a negative experience like Facebook was. Twitter can be a hugely negative place for some people, but I suppose I must just fly completely under the radar there. On that platform, I interact with people that inspire me, which is a profoundly different experience than interacting with people that I know through sheer proximity. I suppose it's a similar difference to choosing to interact with friends versus feeling obliged to interact with family members or neighbors.
I'm glad to see that I've made at least one good choice in my life in the last few months, and that it's already started to bear good fruit!