Farewell Facebook – Being More With Less

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This is home – Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, evening after a storm

The dawn of a New Year adds impetus to the good intentions of the past few months. Cupboards have been stripped and reordered leaving a skeleton wardrobe of clothes that as my newly found guru Marie Kondo, she of the obscenely tidy Japanese closet instructs: “bring me joy” – at least on the day of their choosing, a misty January with a day long frost hovering in the air. I’m hoping that the clearing continues to bring joy as the seasons change and I begin to long for the cotton dresses and skimpy vests that I tossed aside…..

A hum of disquiet has been reverberating in my mental corridors for a very long time now. As a self professed queen of all that is simple and natural, the distractions of facebook and its twittering sister, took a long time to ensnare me, but eventually, seduced by the promises of keeping up with my rapidly growing nomadic teenage children, I signed up, confident that it would only be used for all the right reasons. I’m yet to really decide what the right reasons were, but over time, my self control began to weaken. Evenings that would have previously been spent by the fireside, nestled with a favourite book were replaced by a brief check of my facebook pages which rapidly morphed into an aeon of inane, mindless  net surfing.

Before long I was checking my laptop everytime I reentered the house, posting proud mother moments and sneaking guilty glances at past friends and lovers just a little too often, whilst still ridiculing the fb cult with my friends like some crazy alcoholic in denial.

This strange doppelganger was not someone I’d admit to knowing – perhaps not even to myself. I preferred the meditator, the woman with a conscience, the one who shops at the local farmer market, wears ethically sourced clothes and had eschewed a television and a smart phone for so many years.

In some ways my new friend Marie Kondo was responsible for the final decision – after examining my possessions and resolving to retain only those that are truly necessary – or those that really bring joy, the next logical step seemed to be to do the same to life. How did I spend my time? What did that time bring to my life?

Some of these were questions that were easily answered:

As I sat far out in the milky ocean in the still mist this morning, 11 year old son next to me heckling each other, calling for waves, shouting at each other to paddle harder,  one eye on the  urchin twins playing in the sand, I realised that surfing had to stay.

Home to the daily routine of sorting the washing, the neverending pile of children’s clothes trailing fine dust of sand, there seems little joy there, but approached without resentment, it’s a fine grounding in the pleasure of a job well done, in productive old fashioned housewifery that so many of my kitchen gadgets have starved me of. Then there’s the chaos that would ensue if I gave up this one – so this too must stay.

Come the evening, with children in their beds, the van loaded with kit for a busy Monday of veterinary work, I sit down at the computer and begin the steady tap tap tap of keys – with emails to be answered, some work training to complete and within moments I find myself hovering over the facebook icon thirsty for the stimulation that every new like or message brings. As the evening goes on the pull becomes stronger, the checking more frequent until I paused for a few moments. How did this feel? I felt controlled, compelled – there was no joy in the process or the result, just a kind of numbing compulsion that was wittering away at my precious resources of time and energy.

It’s not easy to disappear – but as I begun the process and the fb attempted to cajole me, like a manipulative friend, into staying, I became more resolute. “But Stephen, Jodiie and Joss are going to miss you!”  it proclaimed, their beaming faces dancing accusingly on the screen.

Perhaps I will miss them too – but the deed is done and for now at least, it feels pretty good. There’s a hint of embarrassment too that I was weak enough to fall under its spell. In the final inquisition facebook asked in an accusatory tone why I was leaving. I answered “Because I spend too much time on fb” admitting my terrible character flaw – to which the beast replied  “But we can help you, reduce your notifications, increase your privacy settings!” Not to be swayed  I pressed continue and was done with it.

So there we have it – guilt, and some fear that without her, I’ll be the uninvited one, the social pariah, leper, hermit. The lone blogger writing to herself.

What I hope is that my children, and my close friends, after noticing my absence will also begin to acknowledge my presence in a more personal way – let’s hope for a few more emails, maybe some photos or god forbid even a telephone call, a letter or a visit. I’ll let you know.

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