They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab

Back in January, I deactivated from Facebook. I needed a break. A breather. A social media detox, if you will.

I had become addicted. And let's face it. I'm not the only one.

Have you seen the haunting photographs from Eric Pickersgill's project Removed? Oh my word, what an indictment!

It's a sad deal when we take something good and make it ultimate. Social media is purposed to bring us together, but when we look to it for validation and use it as an emotional numbing agent, it divides us.

That's what happened to me. So to break my habit, God put me in social media rehab for eight months. Here's an overview of how that went:

Facebook Rehabilitation Diary:

Day 1: Good day. Withdrawal set in this evening, manifesting in agitation and a pounding headache. Apparently, Facebook withdrawal is a real thing. Who knew?

Day 2: Devastating news for our family. Glad I'm not on Facebook.

Days 3-10: Undulating between rage and depression with almost no in between. Trying very hard to be a supportive wife and mother. Wrestling with God over the first few chapters of Job again. I was one chapter from the end of the book, but my heart is in chapters 1-3. So thither I return.

Week 1: Rediscovered Pinterest. In my defense, I'm using it to learn how to write a better book. Mostly. Also, I discovered cat memes.

Week 2: Lonely. Had things to say and no one to say them to. I texted instead. That helped. Can't go outside or stand near the door because of the cold So depressed all I want to do is eat and sleep. Since I don't have FB, I spend free time doing novel research.

Week 4: Not as angry now. Seeing good come from the bad. Stronger relationships with B and the kids. Spiritual growth in B. Began Draft 2 of my novel.


Month 2:  Beginning to crawl out of The Pit of Despair. Family vacation. Hit my writing stride.


Month 3: Look how much I can accomplish without FB! Look at all these inflammatory events I'm missing! All the stress I'm avoiding! What is this new, fabulous world?

Month 4: Turns be accepted by an agent and sell actual, real-live books, I must have an author platform, which includes FB, Twitter, and an active blog. Bubble busted.

Month 5: Draft 3 of my novel complete. It's probably time to return to Facebook. Resistance. Anxiety. Avoidance.

Month 6: Suddenly realized I'm lonely. Returning to FB now would be like a recovering alcoholic strolling the liquor aisle after his dog died.

Month 7: Working on face-to-face relationships. Draft 4 in progress. Facebook return imminent.

End of Month 7: Submit manuscript to beta readers. Deep breath.

(Dog memes are also fun.)

Almost month 8: Logged back in.

What I Learned:


1) Facebook is legitimate community.

While nothing can replace the people in front of me, there's something truly grand about the ability to connect with human beings all over the globe. My best friends live out of state. I've met some incredible people who live in other countries. I missed them while I was away. 

2) Facebook is its own kind of social assistance.

We don't have time to keep up with every person we care about. In our fast-paced culture, everyone is swamped. During the eight months I was away, I talked to my best friends maybe 2-3 times each and saw almost no one outside of immediate family. Every now and then I would get a text or hear from mom that someone missed me or wanted to know how I was. People didn't stop caring just because I was away. Neither did I! But without Facebook, we no longer had a convenient way to check in.

3) Facebook hiatus was good for my health.

Facebook stresses me out. It's not just the drama over politics, current events, and what Christian women consider acceptable entertainment (read into that what you will), though that's plenty bad for sensitive folk like me.

The main reason Facebook stresses me out is because I walk through life with this strange, genetically-rooted complex which makes me believe every vague or negative status and delayed private message response is my fault and that I somehow offended this person and I must do something to make it right.

Slowly but surely, I'm learning I'm not the center of the universe and not everyone is thinking of me when they type in their various vague/negative statuses and that I should calm the heck down and give people the benefit of the doubt. *breathes into paper bag*

Stress is mast cell trigger. I don't think it's a coincidence that I enjoyed the healthiest few months I've had in a while during my FB absence.

4) Facebook hiatus doesn't automatically strengthen face-to-face relationships.

It's far easier to swap addictions than it is to learn new habits. I struggled with this throughout my hiatus. If it wasn't FB, it was Pinterest. Or music. Or Netflix. Or my novel. I had to work to connect.

Though my health is stable now, life is still hard. Painful, even. It's easier to self-medicate with technology (since I can't do it with food, liquor, or medication) than it is to acknowledge the pain, process it, and relate to others.

5) The world keeps spinning with or without me. 

For eight months I was invisible to nearly everyone except the people under my roof. And the world didn't end. Everyone was fiiiine. (I know. I can't believe it either.) I find this both humbling and comforting.

6) Now that I'm clean, I enjoy Facebook more. I'm free to enjoy the gift without the gift possessing me. Which is way more fun.

All in all, I loved being away and I love being back. The thing that was poison to me in January is a treat to me now. And that's a good place to be.

What do you think? What pros and cons does Facebook hold for you? Is its cultural impact mostly positive or negative? Does it connect us or divide us? I'd love to hear your thoughts!