Dear Facebook: Time Out

After the election, a funny thing happened on my way to the Facebook forum (for the millionth time): I declared I was taking some time off. And then I ended up on the front page of USA Today instead.

I didn’t plan to announce my resolve to shut down beyond my little sphere of connections. But now that it’s part of the record, I want provide an update for anyone out there who might, at some moment of weariness, be thinking about shutting down their Facebook, or Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or any other channel.

Here it is: I can still feel my pulse. And I think it’s actually stronger than before the FB blackout.

I was up the entire night of the election. As I reckoned with my disbelief and shock, the S vortex consuming my energy seemed simultaneously to inject just enough back into me to keep me posting and reading even after the new day dawned and life was, supposedly, resuming.

My kids, bless them, like most of their peers, continued to inhabit the world of physical objects, immediate needs, school, comfort and play. As they have many times in recent months, they pulled me back to an awareness of what’s essential. Although I’ll confess that it took several days within the vortex before I realized how far away from their reality my mind had wandered.

Look, it’s not lost on me that something momentous happened a few weeks ago. And I feel I’m just as responsible as everyone else is to make a difference and participate in society. But I realized something was wrong when, night after night, I put my kids to bed and then spent the rest of my conscious minutes wrapped up in my own comforter, tapping and swiping on my phone. I have business to drum up, people to actually see, in three dimensions, and children to raise. What the hell was I doing here until all hours of the a.m.?

So I posted my blackout declaration and figured that was that. Until the next morning at least: that’s when a friend in PR called — she’d seen my sign-off post — and connected me to a reporter on the path of a story about, well, what I’d just done.

Finding my picture on the front page of a national newspaper was a nice perk (Ha! One plug I didn’t have to make on my own!). But it reminded me that elections, causes large and small, and gossip all present seemingly legitimate reasons to take one’s eye off the proverbial ball. The one you can not afford to lose sight of when you and only you are charged with hitting that ball back out into the world. The bottom line is, you have to stay focused on your responsibility to others and your day-to-day business. One only has so much capacity. Your attention only spans a limited distance. How you spend your time is a matter of choice and it needs to be aligned with your true priorities. For me, time I spend on Facebook is time I now do not have to offer my business, my children, and my personal self care.

As for Facebook, I’m just staying quiet for now. Likely, it’s quiet before a new storm, but if and when that storm erupts, I hope I will feel a bit more fortified to fight it, with refreshed energy and my priorities back in order.

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