What Facebook Gave Me When I Gave It Up

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FBGMIt was time; the signs were all there. The cramp in my forearm, habitually picking up my phone at any downtime, even my two-year-old son pulling the phone out of my hand. It’s safe to say that I was addicted to Facebook and to social media in general. I’m not sure what I was afraid I’d miss if I didn’t look at it for more than 30 minutes. Maybe an engagement, a birth, a new job? Pictures of fancy vacations, new houses or endless selfies? The last time I checked, I survived the first 26 years of my life without it. So it was time for a hiatus, a complete separation from the constant connectivity of Facebook and Instagram – my two main vices.

My family went on vacation to a small cabin on a lake in Wisconsin, so it was the perfect time to unplug. Five days of giving up a habit that was sadly controlling way too much of my everyday life. As you can guess, it wasn’t easy. It took a conscious effort to not open these apps, so much so that I ended up just deleting them from my phone. Out of sight, out of mind. After going through a stage like process of recovery, I found myself on the other side, at the end of vacation, having gained more than I expected. It turns out when you give up Facebook, you get quite a bit back.

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  • Time. This was the most obvious one and the thing I expected. What I didn’t expect is just how much time it would give me. I don’t typically spend long stretches of time on social media; it’s usually a few minutes here and there. And then here and there again. The time I gained was welcomed and also challenging, which lead to…
  • Boredom – in the best way possible. When was the last time you truly felt bored? It is a lost art in today’s society and I am horrible at it. There were a few times during our trip when I found myself sitting at the end of a dock, by myself, with nothing to do but stare at the water. I highly recommend trying this sometime.

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  • Awareness. My son makes the best speedboat noises. My daughter loves to try to eat every rock on a beach. My husband could watch float planes for hours. When I give the three of them my undivided attention, we are all happier. Imagine that.

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  • Anticipation. It took a couple of days to get rid of the urge to post pictures of our trip. I still took several pictures on my phone, but not sharing them right away was both refreshing and exciting. I was able to look forward to showing my friends and family snippets of our trip and there was something oddly exciting about not having everyone know what I was doing throughout the day. Is it sad to say it felt nostalgic? Probably, but it did.

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  • Perspective. I truly do enjoy keeping in touch with people and looking at pictures on Facebook. But it also tends to lead me (and I’d bet many others) down the path of “keeping up with the Jones’.” We all know life isn’t as great as it seems online, but that doesn’t stop us from comparing. For the first time in awhile, I didn’t feel like we “needed” a new car or house or nicer clothes. I had everything I needed on the beautiful banks of that lake.

I am very aware that this is somewhat of a confession of my issue with social media. While I’ve felt a bit embarrassed writing this, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. At least I hope I’m not. I don’t plan on deleting my Facebook account or never posting pictures. I do plan on spending less time living virtually and more time living my real, average, wonderful life. I don’t need everyone to “like” what I’m doing to know that I love it. Social media is a big part of life these days, but it’s not all of life. It’s fun but it’s not as fun as splashing in the lake with your kids. It’s a way to pass time, but staring at the clouds is better. Real life is better and I’m glad I’m back to living.

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I am a native Cincinnatian and thanks to a lot of moving, I know this city pretty well. I grew up on the Westside, attended Walnut Hills High School, and then headed to Oxford for an education degree at Miami University. After a few years in Hyde Park, my husband and I are settled in Northern Kentucky for the time being. One of the great things about the Cincinnati area is the abundance of wonderful neighborhoods, schools and family friendly activities! My husband, Andrew, and I have a son, Aiden (2) and our baby girl, Audrey. We didn’t exactly plan all of the “A” names, but it allows us to keep our family nickname – the A-Team. I am an elementary school teacher, but am on a leave of absence right now to be home with my kids. My days are filled with entertaining my babies, taking way too many pictures on my phone and changing a lot of diapers. Thanks to recent open-heart surgery, I have an aortic valve that ticks (like a clock!), I have ornithophobia (Google it) and I broke my hip when I was 18 (I will never ice skate again). But, I do love photography on my “real” camera, pretending I’m a good enough chef to have my own cooking show and playing outside. I turned to writing/blogging in order to document my family’s journey to better health and as motivation to keep myself on track. You can read more about my personal journey at www.limkelife.blogspot.com. I look forward to sharing the adventure of motherhood with you!

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