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Responsible (e)Consumption Month, Week 2: Forgetting About Facebook

Confession: I once went over a week without checking Facebook, and thought little of it even though it was an unusual thing for me. So setting an intention for a Facebook-less week as part of the Responsible (e)Consumption Month challenge might seem like a cop-out. But the difference between that week and this week lies in that key word: intention.
 
Simply forgetting to check Facebook or email or accidentally leaving your phone at the office overnight is completely different than making a conscious choice and actively motivating yourself to forego these things. Especially in the midst of the Information Age – a.k.a "the Instant Gratification Age" – we might be inclined to feel guilty for not staying connected, as if unplugging from our ever-present devices and diversions means unplugging from the world and putting up a wall between it and ourselves. And when you're simply used to something, whether it's checking Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or the comment boards on Yahoo! News, it becomes hard to break the habit. And humans are creatures of habit, and addicted to our little rituals, to the point where intention has little to do with whether we practice them.
 
So I admit to feeling slightly apprehensive when I set my intention this week to refrain from using Facebook; even if Facebooking is a habit I don't indulge as often as some folks I know, it's still more habitual than intentional. Case in point: I go on Facebook with the intention to respond to a message someone sent to me, or to share an interesting news article...and three hours later, it's past my bedtime and I'm engrossed in 5 Buzzfeed articles or videos and trading comments with folks on my friends list who I may not have seen in two years and who know little about me aside from the usual – no, habitual – items I put on Facebook.
 
Overall, I found that going without Facebook isn't really that hard at all. I can take comfort in knowing that when I make my grand return it's mostly going to be the same old crap I see every time I log in. I'm not missing much.
 
Yet, there was another area that caused me to be apprehensive – the fact that I do actually have exchanges on Facebook that are important and meaningful, and that I might actually miss something important...such as my brother's attempt to reach out to me after a few months of barely speaking to each other.
 
The details aren't important, but suffice to say that I was pissed at him over certain perceived wrongs. And my preferred way to deal with difficult people is precisely to not deal with their shenanigans; I set an intention to take a break from them for a while so I can cool down and re-assess. I can have a sharp tongue and my pen may as well be named "Excalibur", so sometimes the skillful and compassionate thing is to keep both carefully sheathed until I've sorted myself out and the other person sorts themself out.
 
I get Facebook messages forwarded to my email so that I don't have to be constantly logged in (which I can't do at the office). It was my one saving grace during this Facebook-less week. When I got my brother's message in my inbox, I decided to break my Facebook fast temporarily and respond to him, and let him know how I felt about things. I felt much better finally expressing myself and explaining my silent treatment – which might not have ended so quickly were it not for our intentional use of social media in this case.
 
It was only when I temporarily and intentionally broke my challenge that I realized that Facebook and other social media are not necessarily time-wasters to be shunned. Going on a Facebook fast or deactivating your account entirely (as some people I know have done), isn't necessarily a key to sanity. Social media can be useful tools for us to share, connect and stay in touch with each other, if we are actively mindful of that purpose. Then our use can become less habitual and ritual, and more focused, useful, and rewarding. Intentions, people...

How are you challenging yourself for Responsible (e)Consumption Month? Post your comments and thoughts below.

 

(image sourced from socialtimes.com)

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