This Lent I am fasting from Facebook. The very first day of not browsing the news feed noticeably quieted my spirit, ironically widened my world.
I miss everyday photos and adorable moments from the lives of my brother’s children. I miss interesting thoughts and news from my friends and family who live all over the world.
But here are some things I don’t miss (things I didn’t even realize were part of my Facebook experience until I shut it off for a while): the urgency to form and express an opinion about each day’s big controversy. The concern to appropriately “like” or respond to comments people make on my posts, so no one feels ignored or left out. The compulsion to snap a photo or record the daily minutiae of my life.
In short, I feel less like a performer on a virtual stage and more like a living breathing person, free to think my own thoughts, spend my own time, in the peace and quiet of my own physical world. My mind feels more expansive, less bogged down with processing all the bits and bytes streaming through it as I scroll the news feed.
My Facebook fast coincides with my reading of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I had heard a lot about this book, watched her TED Talk, figured I got the gist of it. But when the e-book went on sale for $2.99 while I was at a conference and burned out on interacting with people, I snatched it up.
I’ve known for years that I am an introvert, but this book pushes beyond basic identification, to affirmation, even normalization – of people like me. Not only is there an explanation for my love of solitude, my consistent mode of taking a long time to build friendships and not feeling a need for lots of social interaction – even my tendency to jump at loud noises, my lower threshold for disturbing smells and the way a poem or song or painting can emotionally knock me out – but Cain shows that this is completely normal for a good percentage of the population. It’s not something I need to fix in order to become a legitimate person.
Dear Facebook friends, I’ll be back, but with a more deliberate perspective after this fast. And I am not judging anyone else’s social media use. Simply noticing that for me, a confirmed introvert and highly sensitive person, too much social interaction (even virtual!) and everyday buzz interferes with me being my best self, and doing my best work.
*Note: You may be reading this post through a link you found on Facebook. That’s because my blog automatically displays new posts on my Facebook wall. So, if you comment about this post on Facebook, you’ll understand if I don’t respond, right? 🙂