This month my resolution was to get off the computer, the cell phone, and the TV, and read a lot of books. The first couple weeks I was pretty self-controlled. At the beginning, I said I would still be keeping a presence on the Facebook blog page and told myself I could go on the computer after the kids went to bed at night. I didn't completely stick to the TV thing, but I consciously allowed myself to watch TV whenever I felt like it, because I don't watch it that much anyway (when I'm not watching a series on Netflix, of course) -- maybe twice a week. Mid-month, a lot of crap started happening and I was getting tired of not being in my own home, so in my boredom and frustration, I started peeking at Twitter, Instagram, and my personal Facebook. I even liked a status update or two, and perhaps even commented... I don't know what happened.
Did I learn anything?
I was reminded again by how much I dislike Facebook. In a word, Facebook makes me angry. Two hot stories on Facebook right now are the heartbreaking news report about the 9-month-old baby taken from his parents, and the Dove Real Beauty Sketches. Reading about these on my own terms would spark different emotions, but involving myself in conversation with other people on Facebook, it just adds smidgen of more stress to my life that I don't need. I like talking about controversial things now and then, or discussing recent events that have happened around the world, but in person. Like... you know. Conversation, vintage style.
I realized how much negativity floods social media. Whether it's about politics, or food, or about what people wear outside the house, or about how idiotic some people are, or how disrespectful teenagers are, or how dumb a certain television show is, or how annoying a friend is, or how lazy a husband is -- it's a constant stream of negativity about something. When someone complains about their own life, I have empathy. I can totally relate to being tired, stressed out, sick, or broke, and most people don't complain in every other status update. But we really love to make fun of and complain about other people, especially people we don't really know. And when it's the only thing I see, sometimes I've just had ENOUGH. Even when it's something I may agree with. The negativity gets under my skin. I'm not pointing fingers, because when I'm on Facebook, I'm a part of the problem. Which is why I realized I prefer to be off.
I realized how much I care about people. On my media break, I really missed what was going on in the lives of others. I wanted to peek at pictures of their kids, read their blogs, see how they were doing. I felt disconnected.
I realized how lonely I am. Haha, I know this sounds very melodramatic, but in the year and a half that we've lived here, we have not found any community in which we feel welcomed and comfortable. We've been to many churches and people seem uninterested in a friendship that goes beyond a polite hello on Sunday mornings. When we moved here with my cousin-in-law Sarah, she said she felt people were more closed off. I didn't see it... now I do. I don't know if it's just southern hospitality that I'm used to, but people here just don't seem to be interested in cultivating new friendships. In San Antonio, we had an amazing community of friends we loved and spent time with. People I still love dearly and miss so much. It was hard during this month to completely stay off social media, because other than the closeness of my family, that is the only social interaction I get! It's hard. I miss having friends. I feel guilty that my son doesn't have any friends that he plays with on a regular basis. I've sort of given up on trying to meet anyone. I say this in a practical manner, not that I am wallowing in self pity. I am an introvert and it's hard for me to make friends; I'll just have to learn to live with that for now and be fine with not forcing myself in uncomfortable situations.
I realized how much I complain. I don't complain too much on Facebook, unless it's about how hard it is being a mom (because it's really hard sometimes), but I do complain on Twitter a lot. And if I don't tweet my complaints, I sure do think about it, as if everyone should know how miserable I am and sympathize for me. I'm a complainer by nature. (Does that smell like an excuse? It's not supposed to be). It is a most obnoxious character trait. I may not complain to friends often, but I complain to John daily, about a lot of different things. He's who I vent to, and I appreciate that he's there to listen to me when I need to complain about something, but the words we speak come from the heart. I'd like to change that part of my heart. I'm a pretty pessimistic person, and while I don't think I'll ever be a true optimist (unless I was seriously bullshitting myself), I think I need to be more grateful and at peace, and less inclined to think the world is crumbling beneath my feet because the dog pooped in the house, or because we have to move at the last minute, or because Austen is screeching about everything all day long.
Originally, this month's resolution was going to be read, because I wanted to read more, which I did. I wish I'd kept it "read" instead of "media fast," because while I did fast from media (for the most part), I read a lot and didn't do much of anything else (besides, you know, pack my entire apartment and move). But I finished eight books this month! Did I begin to teach River how to read? Nope. I could have, but felt there was way too much going on for that and seriously didn't need one more thing on my plate. Did I go outside? A couple times during the days that were nice, but don't forget that Olympia sucks and it's still rainy and cold here the majority of the time. Did I create things? Not really, too busy. Was I present? I mean, I guess I could have been more present. We'll work on that later.
Overall, the challenge this month wasn't very challenging, and I'd say it was a success. I'm definitely limiting my presence on my personal Facebook page for a while, and I forgot how much I love to read... so I'll be spending less of my time on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and I'll be filling my brain with good books instead of celebrity gossip, angry political debates, and negativity. It's healthier and more calming, and I really need that lately.