Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Facebook diet: Living in the present

Social networking sites satisfy that basic human need to belong, as well as the ability to experience instant feedback and recognition from someone, somewhere, 24 hours a day. 
The Daily Mail

I started using Facebook back in 2002 or so when my friend Eric moved to Ohio. For a long time he was probably my only friend on Facebook and we used it as a means of keeping up with each other's lives. He was one of my best friends in the dorms but at the time the Facebook whirlwind hadn't yet caught on and I checked it, at most, once a month or even once a year. Now he is one of my 418 Facebook friends.... 418? Honestly? I'll venture a guess that 10% of these folks are high school classmates to who, if I saw on the streets of Walnut Creek, I probably wouldn't even say "Hi". I am not discounting our high school friendships--it would be great to see how everyone is doing now--but half of these FB friends didn't speak to me in high school, would they want to break the trend now? The other half sends me promotional emails and I know they just need to expand their networking, not reconnect.

There's probably another 10% who were dorm friends or acquaintances in college and another 10% who aren't even actual people but groups or organizations I support. I could continue this breakdown of FB friend composition but I don't really want to analyse that and I don't think either of my readers care.

Since Clint left for deployment, most of my time at home is dedicated to homework. I barely even cook anymore... I think I ate spaghetti for 4 straight days which is fine with me. At some point during the third week, I realized I was barely getting the same amount of homework done as before Clint left--how is that possible? I rarely turn the TV on and except for when I workout on base, I'm home with the books cracked open. But the laptop is also cracked open... and like a zombie with only a body and no soul, I freakishly and mindlessly manage to logon and zone out while reading status messages or thinking of silly things to put as status messages. Before I know it, an hour has gone by and I'm only 3 paragraphs in to Chapter 1 of my text. I think to myself, "SH*TCO**SUCKMOTH***UCKER where did the time go?!". Besides getting behind in studies, the time consumption on Facebook means less time spent doing other things--studying photography, practicing French, cleaning the house, interacting with real-life people, being productive. And when I'm not being productive, I turn into an unhappy beast. So that's when I realized... I need to get off Facebook.

One of my commandments is to "be in the present" and one of my resolutions is to "make the most of every moment". I only have a shallow understanding of what it means to "be in the present" and I think the two ideals are similar and interconnected because in order to make the most of every moment, you have to be mindful of your surroundings and your presence first. Being in the present doesn't just mean being interacting with the present. It also means being mindful of the present and being HERE--aware of what is around you, taking advantage of the opportunities near you, and making the most of your time in that moment. When people are on Facebook, they are not in the present--their minds are in a virtual, socially-dysfunctional playground of acquaintances and status messages while their bodies sit catatonic in front of PCs and macs. When I think of my happiest friends (Sunny, Lisa, Amanda, Natalia), they conjure up images of women who are productive in their lives, happier with who they are, and always PRESENT. They are also, as far as I know, rarely on FB. So maybe this is a hint of how to be present in life and thus happier?

I have been on a FB diet now for about 6 days. This means I am on FB less than 5 minutes a day and for the past 3 days, I only logged on to send FB messages to people of whom I don't have emails. So far I have been more productive, happier, and well, still behind in homework. (But with a new professor who assigns 12 chapters of reading a week, how could I not be behind?)

For the sake of any future children, I hope this becomes a steady trend. I want to be a good role model of how to live in the present and to make each moment worthwhile so that they can too.

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