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One year ago today I rejoined Facebook after taking a 1-year hiatus.
I decided it had become a negative source of energy, and a distraction that kept me from reaching some of my personal goals. But more than that, I wanted to see if I could do it. Multiple times a day, I would catch myself thoughtlessly scrolling through the news feed. It was like a TV series that never ended. (And I don’t even like TV that much.)
Something had to change.
Fortunately, I found out it wasn’t as hard as I imagined. And that time away helped me understand that there’s a delicate balance between participating in real life and interacting with others virtually. I now believe there’s value in both.
Today, more and more people are rejecting social media in an attempt to squeeze more out of real life. At some point, most of us have at least wondered once or twice if the emotional drama that often comes with internet connectedness is even worth it. In fact, I know several people who have chosen not to participate at all, and have been happy with that choice for years.
Ironically, yesterday Facebook reminded me that it was my 1 year anniversary of rejoining their platform. The “On This Day” memory tracker magically appeared in my news feed, and I’m pretty sure I chuckled to myself about the fact that I forgot I ever left in the first place.
But it did prompt today’s act of self-care: to reassess my decision to participate in social media. A year later I still have mixed emotions about it. Sometimes I still wonder if I’m addicted to checking status updates, or if it’s simply a habit of convenience (or boredom).
I do know that I enjoy staying connected to my friends and family. I like seeing photos of loved ones and their travels, and I want to be there to support them when they need help working through life’s challenges.
But all of that requires my participation.
The reality is that social media isn’t always a very friendly place. It’s rare these days to share an idea without being criticized or belittled. The anonymity factor that comes with online interactions seems to make people bolder, less caring, and, in some cases, downright nasty.
I’ve decided that the returns are worth the risks. I can choose not to respond to negative comments. I can choose to shower others with kindness when I notice that someone is trolling them.
And I can stop participating any time I want to.