Yup. Aristotle said it and we love it around here. Apparently it struck a chord with the author of this article who committed — hold on –Facebook Suicide.
After reading Aristotle’s words “We are what we repeatedly do”, this is how Carmen Joy King felt:
I became despondent. What, then, was I? If my time was spent changing my profile picture on Facebook, thinking of a clever status update for Facebook, checking my profile again to see if anyone had commented on my page, Is this what I am? A person who re-visits her own thoughts and images for hours each day? And so what do I amount to? An egotist? A voyeur?
Whatever the label, I was unhappy and feeling empty. The amount of time I spent on Facebook had pushed me into an existential crisis. It wasn’t the time-wasting, per se, that bothered me. It was the nature of the obsession – namely self-obsession. Enough was enough. I left Facebook.
That article prompted me to think (a good thing) and to write this post about Alone Together (also inspired by a book by that name).
Which then lead to a challenge from my email pal @danholm. Seems his church challenged their members to give up something they are addicted to– smoking, over-eating, whatever. And his heart led him to FACEBOOK.
Here’s just two of a long list of the things Dan shared with me about his addiction:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ I would check Facebook on my phone in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT when I would wake up randomly at 3am.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ My wife and I would sit in bed at night and talk about stuff and people we saw on Facebook….something wrong with this picture? We would go to restaurants to eat and both have our heads buried in our phones (trust me, we still like each other).
I am not quite so addicted as Dan, but Facebook is VERY addicting. You know it. And puzzling. I have always had a love-hate relationship with facebook and most social media. Several years back in fact, I was close to someone that had such a constant need to connect and tweet, I was frightened for him. I truly believe it changed who he was, how he saw himself and what he came to value. It change his identity.
It was a bit of a constant riff between us.
So a week into Dan’s “fast”, I decided to join him on a Facebook fast of my own. I jumped in when there were 17 days left. And we agreed to update each other on how it felt, then share with you the three lessons we learned while taking a break.
I need to tell you I actually felt a little jittery when I wrote these words. “I am going on a Facebook Fast until Feb. 18th. Bye. Bye. OXOXOXO”
What if something earth shattering happened? Could I stick to it?
BTW, I did fall off the wagon once and posted a promotion for a webinar I where I was the presenter. My “off the wagon moment” did not go unnoticed. Hey, who wants to do a webinar if people aren’t listening?
So for what it’s worth, my three lessons:
1. I am not my Facebook status. This is my favorite line from Carmen’s article and sums up how I feel: “Is this what I am? A person who re-visits her own thoughts and images for hours each day?” I think the happiest people and the best leaders for that matter have this “outward attitude”. An ability to take themselves out of the equation. A self-forgetfulness. Facebooking forces you to focus on you. And that is not really me. Make sense?
2. I missed the photos most. Facebook is like an online scrapbook and better yet, it’s like a collection of scrapbooks from the folks I love. Like my kids and friends and family. I really do like to capture and share my life’s best moments. A sunny day. An amazing view. A flower found on a walk. I realized that visual sharing is what I truly DO love and in fact missed most when I gave up Facebook. Maybe it’s because photos capture what’s real.
3. I felt calmer. Maybe it was one less thing to do. Maybe it was just letting go of a habit. But maybe, just maybe… I was truly more outwardly focused. Listening to my kids stories a little deeper. Asking folks at work about their weekend instead of reading about it. Maybe I truly was less focused on me.
Okay. Dan — your turn:
1. We don’t need Facebook. Facebook Needs Us. I never thought of Facebook needing us. Lately it seems that everyone and everything tells us we need Facebook. We need to create an account, we need to update our profile picture and have witty statuses and sign on to get discounts from brands. What I found during my 21 day fast was that Facebook relies on me (and all of you) to keep their site interesting. If we don’t share, post and connect then Facebook dies. We should never forget that we own Facebook, Facebook doesn’t own us.
2. Life is only exciting if you’re engaging. I have 500 friends (impressive right? Not really). Guess how many of them noticed I went missing for three weeks? Not. A. Single. One. No one asked where I was, what I was up to or wondered where I went. I was shocked when I logged back in after my absence and only had 5 notifications. Only 5!?! How can this be possible? It’s so simple…..if we’re not engaging, generating dialogue and having a conversation….no one is going to talk back with us. The same principle goes for life in general: we must engage with our personal communities in order stay relevant. This applies to your brand as well…
3. Real connections live on without Facebook. We don’t need Facebook to connect. It just makes it a whole lot easier to connect. During my absence, I still was in contact with “my real friends”. We still hung out and guess what? I had the opportunity to ASK them about their lives and hear what they were up to in REAL LIFE. In past instances I asked them, and then already knew everything because I had stalked them on Facebook. There is something to be said about hearing people’s stories, looking them in the eyes and having a genuine conversation vs reading several status updates and attempting to piece the story together on your own. How many of my friends on Facebook are my real friends? Good question….probably a handful (please don’t tell my other “friends” they’re not my real friends). Check out this article on how many friends your brain can hold.
BTW, thanks to @thebrandbuilder for sharing this article with me (via Facebook I might add) in the first place and to Dan for inspiring me to take a little break and time to reflect.
And now your turn. Do you have a social media fasting story to share?