Saturday, March 2, 2013

On Noise, Facebook, and Cultivating Silence - Part II

So as I write the second part of this post, the part where I proudly announce I just don't do Facebook anymore, toss my hair triumphantly, and march off with the air of one who is too good for social media, I have to confess one important thing:  I am terrible at social media.
Most people can freely use social media to connect, posting pictures on Facebook, tweeting, or even texting.  People claim that it is so much easier real life interaction.  Not true for me.  I am social media-ly awkward.  I read a post recently at Conversion Diary by the fabulous Jen Fulwiler who writes that she's the type of person who wishes we lived in an era where everyone abides by social cues.  I sympathize completely.  How much easier would it be if we all knew to rise when someone new entered the room, address all elders by sir or ma'am, and I'm sure introductions and meeting people would be less awkward too. (hmmm.... on that note, is is possible that our society nowadays feels "awkward" because our lack of social rules?)

So naturally, Facebook for me is kind of, well, unnatural.  What do I share?  What kind of status is appropriate?  Excited about snow, should I tell people? Do they care?
Over think, over think, over think, STRESS OUT!
This is me.  A rule abider trying to fit in to the kinda rule-less Facebook?  Just didn't work.

Now, having explained how I actually was uncomfortable using Facebook, or not knowing the proper way of using it (again with rules, I just like them so much!), allow me to divulge the negative impacts it was having in my life.

I wrote in part I that at the end of last year I felt inundated by noise, especially the internal noise.  Here is what the noise sounded like, especially while using Facebook:

Omigosh, I have sooo much I need to do, I haven't even started on my - wait, hey, where did I put my wallet - omigosh, did I leave it in - it's probably - hey a notification! Oh wait, it's just some random app request, so not cool - hey look pictures, she's so lucky she went to Europe, ugh, my life sucks I wonder if I'll ever get to travel, and plus my profile picture is so lame. Oh phew! found it, my wallet, but now I have to start... hmmm... maybe just 5 more min - I got a real notification now!

Thankfully it's been more than 2 months for me now without Facebook, so describing the noise I experience before has become pretty foreign to me.  Basically, though, what I mean by noise is random, unnecessary thoughts that were disturbing my inner peace.  Facebook made me feel like I constantly needed to be thinking, and the thoughts I was wasting my mental energy on - well they were just that: a waste.  As I reflect on it now, perhaps it's the layout of the website, but I think social media like Facebook tunes our brain to scan and try to acquire a ton of small bits of information which then leads people like me to overload our brain with random information that just cannot be organized and thus overwhelms us completely. (Actually, I'm pretty sure that it has been proven somewhere that it actually does do this to our brain.)

Without Facebook thus far, I've a) found myself losing less personal items (as opposed to before when I'd lose something at least once a week b) I'm less anxious c) don't find myself comparing my life to others' nearly as much - in fact I do so rarely, which  allows me to significantly lessen feelings of jealousy and envy, and d) consequently, I'm less worried about how other perceive me.
My thoughts and mental energy does not have to be wasted with these trivialities and boy, it is a relief.  I even find myself the most well rested I've been in the longest time - and I consider that pretty big considering I'm a college student studying engineering.  Plus, my grades are better than they've been despite my taking harder classes this semester.

Phew! Finally got this blog post down after nearly two months!  I'll have a third part of this series coming... well I won't make any promises, but eventually!

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