I came out of a very emotional therapy session on Tuesday, and the first thing I thought was how I’d report it on Facebook. I am not in therapy to develop online content. Health is my goal, and converting every experience into a Facebook post is not healthy.
It’s not even good writing.
I realized – I had been coming to this realization for some time; it snapped into place on Tuesday – that I was viewing my life as material for social media. Talk about a lack of mindfulness, of diverted attention. I need to view my life as what I am living right now, not as a rough draft for half-assed writing that a few people will read and then it will scroll down into the abyss.
That moment was a little over 48 hours ago, which isn’t a huge amount of time, but it is the most time I’ve been off Facebook in ages. I continue to have the first sentence of posts skip through my head – France will overrun Croatia in the WC final; there goes the country & democracy; I haven’t posted to Facebook in over two days! – but I am now dismissing them for what they are:
Bits of noise my brain generates that I am choosing to let go of.
I don’t know how long I am going to stay off Facebook. I have decided that what I want to focus on is blogging; it’s where I first started writing regularly, thanks to BlueOregon, and it brought a lot of good things my way. Like most other BlueOregon contributors, however, I shifted my efforts to Facebook, and it’s been a mixed blessing. I can say a lot more, a lot more quickly, and I come across the thoughts of others.
It has done my writing skills little good, however. I didn’t edit the hell out of my BlueOregon posts, mind you, but I put more effort into those than I do on Facebook. I frequently did research; not always thorough or rock-solid, but enough for my kind of mix of fact and reasoned opinion. With Facebook, it’s more like playing Fortnite: drop, start running around, and then start shooting before a sniper blows my brains out.
So I am going to focus on my blog, even if readership can be counted on the finger I use to keep my nostrils open. Thinking of readership is another way to divert attention from what matters: writing. As Harlan Ellison said, and I often repeat (guiltily): Writers write. You can’t publish if you don’t write. You can’t gain readers if you don’t write.
I know I want to write. I am enjoying writing this piece even though I know perhaps only one or two other people will read it. The #1 reason I am writing this is for myself. I know that I will learn more as I write (“divert attention” was not something I had thought of until I typed the words, and those two words clarify a lot for me). I know that if I keep writing for my blog, I’ll get better as a writer. Having an audience doesn’t improve writing; writing improves writing.
I think I will use my Facebook page for the Carpe Bucko blog at the least, but it will be the kind of use social media savvies say not to do: one-way traffic. I’ll post a link with an introductory blurb and leave it at that. In other words, I’ll take some small advantage of Facebook’s marketing potential. I am not focusing on readership, but it does no harm to make some effort in that regard.
When will I start reading my timeline again? I don’t know. The last thing of import I learned on Facebook was of someone’s divorce I had missed. Anything else I need to know, people will ensure I get that info. Honestly, outside of family events, there really isn’t much in this world I do need to know that I won’t pick up through online news and podcasts.
In other words, Facebook isn’t essential to my life.
And right now, it’s not good for my life. Facebook isn’t inherently bad; it’s just a tool, and it became a tool I was misusing. For now, I’m setting it aside and concentrating on the other tools I have; in particular, my blog. (Actually, multiple blogs under the one roof I pay for at Squarespace.) Rather than participate in the ongoing melée that is Facebook, I’m going to write in those blogs, use Facebook as a notification service, and see if I can train my thoughts to remain what they are and not as online fodder.
Writers write. They don’t do cheap tricks for an audience that really doesn’t care that much.