My Facebook-free summer begins today. And I LIKE it.
A while back I adopted a small policy that triggered big change: "Facebook only while standing." That simple step made me suddenly mindful of the way I'd been unconsciously getting on FB at my desk, in the car, as I lay in bed or sat at the table in a restaurant.
I justify the time I spend on social networks as part of the "platforming" I'm obligated to do as an author and ghostwriter, and I'm more than willing to admit that maybe I'm just not doing it right, but the net gain for me has been very low. It certainly doesn't justify the time it's taken away from reading and writing. Even Mark Coker of Smashwords said this year at LBF that loitering on FB and other social network time-sucks was one of the worst mistakes commonly made by indie and legacy published authors alike. The days when LIKEs converted to book sales have expired. Now we're just nickle and diming ourselves to death.
The only thing I'll really miss is lurking and spying on my kids, their cousins and my former students. I stayed through the first week of June so I could participate in a virtual baby shower for my nephew and his wife, which is the only way our globe-spanning family could come together and the most brilliant thing I've ever seen orchestrated on FB. I also communicate with authors in the UK, Greece, Italy, South America, Australia and France via FB, and I participate in a lively forum for ghostwriters on both sides of the Atlantic.
But as much as FB has the power to bring us together from the far corners of the world, it also pushes us apart by allowing us to imagine that flipping a LIKE on a photo of someone's raspberry blini is the same as being their friend. FB is the hall pass that allows us to feel okay about neglecting real world relationships. It's a local anesthetic that makes us feel less lonely than we really are.
Habits die hard, but I deleted Facebook from my phone this morning, and it didn't hurt one bit. I'll still have Messenger, so the kids can get in touch with Aunt Joni if they need to. I'll have to Skype my Dad and call my sisters. I'll have to read the news and think for myself and watch adorable ducks by the pool instead of kitten videos. I'll read a book in bed, watch passing scenery in the car and gaze across the dinner table at the man I love instead of staring down at my iPhone.
I'll be posting on this blog, and whatever posts here or on my Tumblr gets robo-posted to FB and twitter, but even if it didn't, I don't think I'd be missed. Plenty of clever memes, breakfast shots and daily noise to fill in the slimmest blank. I'll be back in September, and I'm pretty sure I won't have missed anything I haven't seen before.