RBC | Facebook. Happy little dings, memes, being able to share something with people without actually having to talk to those people (or put on pants)—what’s not to love?
A lot, actually. For me, Facebook is how I tune out the chaos of daily life. Lately I’ve found myself subconsciously opening the site or app whenever I’m in front of a screen. It’s a warning sign I’m not living in the present.
I found this out when I was dealing with mental health issues a few years ago. I suppose Facebook is a “better” vice than some things, but it hinders recovery all the same. During my battles with postpartum depression, I’d spend literally days online, masterminding a happy little universe in which I was cool and collected and showered regularly and didn’t struggle with basic life tasks.
Now that I’m going through one of life’s inevitable rough patches again, I’m wary of falling into the same internet black hole. For all its merits, Facebook’s product is one thing: us. Our attention, time and energy are what drive their bottom line, but they do an excellent job of seeming innocuous and indispensable while serving up ads and mining personal data. Blessed be the algorithms.
We’ve forgotten that humans have been communicating with each other for thousands of years, and only recently have traded meaningful connection for one-dimensional artifice (mixed with 17 ads for something you dreamed about once in fifth grade … seriously, HOW?)
Mostly as a precaution, I’ve decided to do a little Facebook detox for 21 days, starting Dec. 4. I’m nowhere near what I think of as “the edge” mentally, but after cliffhanging a few times, I’ve wised up a bit. I’m putting it in print because accountability is good, and for all the joking about the utter lameness of a “Facebook addiction” (believe me, I totally agree), there is solid science behind the site’s “dopamine dings,” which are especially addictive when your life isn’t exactly peachy.
The real question? What the heck am I gonna do with myself if I can’t share all my magniloquent opinions from the bathroom?
By CAITLIN WALKER | firstname.lastname@example.org