Jennifer DiFrancesco

Jennifer DiFrancesco

Something swept over me recently. Suddenly I felt a compulsion to step away from Facebook and the avenue of social networking.

I realized that I was habitually checking Facebook every morning and evening. Conservatively, this equated to 10 minutes per day or 56 hours a year posting my life, prying into other’s lives, and vacillating between “likes and dislikes” in a world that seemed as real as I made it to be. My pursuits were driven by an interest to keep connected to family and a large network of colleagues from around the world. Certainly there were moments of inspiration and tidbits of information obtained, but in the end it held insufficient benefit to stay engaged. Because I felt it was usurping much of my time, consciousness, balance, and real connection to the people who matter most, I decided to take a “Facecation.”

There are numerous ways to be the active orchestrator of Facebook floods: disengaging altogether, taking a weekend off, engaging in “99 days of freedom,” turning off all e-mail alerts or setting an every-other-day regimen. My “Facecation” included the drastic move of deactivating my account, but no matter what the choice, these active means of monitoring exposure to social media can only help one’s health.

There are many aspects to health, yet rest assured, the most important is a present-moment mindset. One’s ability to achieve peace and quiet, increase time and energy, free headspace and assess what aspect of addiction is present in our lives is imperative. Addiction is an unnatural impulse to the brain influencing one to repeat something time and time again. One must take a step back to examine these tendencies, thereby avoiding overt attachment and fixation. This can happen with any aspect of life.

One of the best places to start this introspection is by understanding social media and its subtle grip upon us. The Facebook fascination is a deceiving one. Facebook friends are accumulated quickly and mindlessly, creating a connection with many. However in the end, we at most have approximately five close friends. The rest is landscape. Maybe the frightening aspect of this push-pull relationship is to ponder what happens if you disconnect. Will anyone truly notice if we leave the Facebook fishbowl?

Recently while cycling I witnessed a single verdant, red-flamed Ocotillo in a perfectly barren desert setting in front of an azure-blue sky. Immediately I felt compelled to stop and capture this scene in a picture of myself with my bike. This picture provided contentment and my first reaction was to post my experience. I then realized this was no longer possible. It was an epiphany and at that moment, appreciation of this adventure held more importance than the interest in validating good times with others. This in-the-moment feeling of self-satisfaction allowed me to realize – and appreciate – the real world.

All of the extra free time absent from Facebook and connecting with reality will be something to remember much more in ten years than the need for a Facebook romance. This heartfelt realization is liberating. At the moment, after 30 days into this experiment, I am exactly where I should be.

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