Feeling Groovy: Stepping Back from Social Media
All winter, whenever the cold gets tiresome and the snow overwhelming, I say the same thing over and over: “Hang in there, it’s almost March”. March, to me, marks the slow start of spring, no matter how wintry it might be.
And now, it is March! Today is March 1, and it’s a balmy 60 degrees outside, and raining intermittently. There’s no sun – in fact, the sky is a peculiar but awesome shade of lavender/silver, and the air is thick with moisture. You can’t smell the loam just yet. But I know, and the wild birds clearly know, that we are on the cusp of spring.
Last November, right after the presidential election, I closed my Facebook account after almost 6 years. I grew tired of maintaining pseudo friendships with strangers and ancient friends whom I hadn't seen or spoken to in years. I also suspected that my posts were being watched by people who don’t have my happiness in mind. There were glimpses of evidence of that, and it became unsettling.
Mostly though, I found that the quips, jokes, sermons, photos, updates, life events, and opinions I was posting were cultivating in me an ego-driven, narcissistic identity that wasn’t in line with conscious Buddhism. And I found myself occasionally peeking at the accounts of people I had no business looking at. Not beneficial at all.
I’m in my fifth month of being Facebook-free and am loving it. I stepped off a train that was going places I didn’t want to go. I’ve taken a step to protect my family's privacy. On social media, it’s too easy to indulge a cowardly impulse to stalk, suppress or hurt someone. I’ve also released myself from the compulsive need to see a ‘Like’ on something I’ve posted. That was getting old and was also narcissistic.
The relief of being free from one major social media platform has me wondering if releasing myself from more wouldn’t feel twice as good. So, Twitter and Pinterest have also been permanently deleted. LinkedIn is next, then Google +. There too, I have glimpses of evidence that there are people viewing those accounts who have no wholesome reason to do so. That creeps me out in ways I can’t describe.
The Internet is huge, and it’s not going away, even if counter-culture peaceniks like myself decide to drop the curtain. Many millions of people are plugged in all day, every day. It’s a big business and a big addiction. But I have no desire to consign my life to the Internet, and after years of participating fully in social media, I can’t point to a single part of the experience that’s brought me closer to grace. And that’s what matters.
What will remain is this blog. Exploring and writing about Buddhism, ethics, veganism, animal compassion, eco-activism, and agro-ecology gives me joy. Now that we’ve entered March, it’s nearly time to start playing in the dirt. And I’ll take dirt under my fingernails over another ‘Like’ any day of the week.
Live in Peace.