June 6, 2017

How I Freed Myself from Facebook FOMO.

In just a single week without Facebook, my creativity skyrocketed.

I feel like I have more time in my day, I’m more grounded and focused on tasks, I get outside more, my eyes feel less tired, my brain feels less tired, I am more productive, and gosh, the list goes on!

A number of things sparked my hiatus from the social networking site—from the liberating experience traveling in Malaysia without internet access, to the impact a single negative comment has on my day. My urge to detach from Facebook has been building for quite some time but the thoughts of, “What if I miss out on something?” and, “How will I promote my next workshop?” kept me hooked.

The final trigger came one Monday morning as I sat in front of my computer ready to tackle my week. I watched myself habitually open Facebook and start to monotonously scroll down, post after post.

It always starts so innocent, “Aww, my friend was at the local park this weekend with her kids. How sweet!” I pass an inspirational quote or photo here and there. As I scroll further, “Wow, my friends are traveling again! This time to some off-beaten town in Morocco. “Maybe I should travel too. Why am I not traveling right now? Let me look up flights.”

I catch myself go off on a tangent and, finally, stop to take a breath.

I continue to scroll down my feed, passing more shared articles and photos, then get caught in thinking:

He’s spearheading a really neat business venture that could one day reach hundreds of thousands of consumers.

She’s writing a book.

She’s doing this, she’s doing that.

Why am I not doing more?

I’m not doing enough.

I’m worthless.

I need to get out there and reach more people.

But I’m home drinking my coffee scrolling through Facebook…

Does this ever happen to you?

That particular morning, I literally shut my computer down and went to sit for meditation. I took an extra long breath in and opened my mouth to sigh until I was completely empty of air.

“What am I doing? This needs to stop. I can’t continue to treat my mind this way! It feels debilitating, distracting, and silly. I practice so many other forms of self-care from meditation, to yoga, to a predominantly whole foods lifestyle, and an abundant social life. This social media madness needs to stop, pronto.”

While I’m fortunate to not have extreme addictive tendencies, I know that for my brain to detach from something like this I would need to go cold turkey. At least to start. So in that instant, I deleted all social media channels off my phone and logged out of all my accounts on my computer.

That’s it? I remember staring at my computer screen. The same screen that just moments ago had seemingly interrogated my headspace. And now, in a single instant, I felt like a windshield wiper had come through and gotten rid of all the water droplets so I could finally see clearly and breathe easily.

But is it that easy? Those small fears of missing out on something or not being able to reach people crept in. I felt my fingers start to type “F…A…C…” as an impulse after the thought.

I stopped, took another breath, looked over at my dog, put a leash on her, and went outside. I looked up and noticed round, white clouds rolling through the deep, blue sky. I saw birds fluttering their way through branches that were now green with leaves after a long winter. I waved to the school crossing guard and actually saw his teeth as his lips parted for a smile. I looked down at my dog and saw just how often her nose twitches when she walks and feels her way through the earth.

My mind filled with sensory stimuli and “right now” experiences, the opposite of Facebook. I had a conversation with a random passerby and felt warmth in my heart because that small interaction was more gratifying than liking a photo someone posted a few days ago.

So here’s what I learned during my social media detox:

>> The temptation to check Facebook goes away so fast; you’ll wonder why you were ever impulsive with it to begin with.

>> I don’t have to share facets of my life on Facebook to feel liked, seen, or important.

>> My in-person interactions with friends have shifted, because when I ask about their lives, I’m really asking and not basing my questions off of a photo or post.

>> I’m much more content not coexisting in a world of online reactions. The number of likes I get does not correlate with my worthiness in this world!

My simple one-week hiatus has me feeling like I’ve taken my brain, body, and heart to the spa for a long overdue rejuvenation. I’m not claiming to be anti-Facebook or social media. I’ve witnessed some beautiful forms of connection there, though I can say with certainty those moments are few and far between compared to what I’ve experienced offline.

My suggestion for everyone is to start by allotting certain hours of the day off social media, and eventually certain days. Then, for some of you, take periods of sabbatical throughout the year.

To be free of any attachments is a high form of self-realization and heartfelt liberation.

Author: Ayami Yamamichi
Image: William Ivan/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell

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