It was about a week before the midterm elections when I decided to take a break from Facebook.  Every time I would open Facebook, the majority of the posts on my news feed were related to politics.  I myself was also posting mostly about politics, urging people to get out there and to vote for the candidates that I felt should be elected.  So I’m not just pointing fingers (that quote about “when you point your finger at someone, three other fingers are pointed at you” comes to mind)

But I was very stressed out, and having trouble sleeping. I even started crying one day, while working at home (thankfully not while at the office), for what I initially thought was for no reason at all.  

But then, after calming myself down and seriously thinking about what it was that was bothering me, I realized that it was a feeling of helplessness.  I realized that it was a form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  Nothing particularly stressful had happened directly to me recently, but there was a lot of stress happening around me, and in my extended world.  And since most of the horrible things happening in my extended world didn’t affect me directly, the only way I was learning of these was from watching or reading the news … and from social media.  Facebook in particular (although, if I went to my Twitter account, I’m sure it would be the same, but I stopped checking Twitter a long time ago!)

So, I made a decision that day.  I was not going to watch the news for a while, not going to read the news, and not going to discuss the news with family, friends and co-workers.  This was pretty easy to do.  But I also realized that if I was going to take this break from the overload of stress-inducing bad news, I was going to have to stop going to Facebook.  Either that or I was going to have to block a LOT of people from my news feed (including a lot of my own prior posts).  

I still use the Messenger app.  I use that to actually connect with family and friends.  My Mom and I have fun times video chatting and using all those funny add ons that you can put on your face while chatting!  And we’re not discussing politics or the news when we connect.  I don’t want to isolate myself from those I care about, I just want to put a buffer around me so that I am not constantly bombarded with negative news stories!

I also continued to look at Instagram, because people don’t seem to use that social media platform for posting news or politically-bent photos as much.  And I really like following the posts of cute animals!  The things I have been posting myself on Instagram, I am also clicking the button to share on Facebook.  I’m not sure if this is hypocritical of me to post things to a social media platform while not actually visiting that platform myself. I wasn’t going on Facebook to see if anyone was “liking” the posts.  But the option is there, so since I still technically have my Facebook account, I was sharing them there.  I do know that some friends I have on Facebook don’t have Instagram accounts, so I am rationalizing it that way!  😉

At first, I was actually more anxious than I had already been, not knowing what was going on in the world.  And on top of that, I felt a little guilty.  People should know what is happening around them.  Being an ostrich, and sticking my head in the fictional sand is not the type of person I am at my core.  I am someone that wants to know what’s happening and to get involved.  I am someone to make my voice known, and to research everything that affects me (and even things that don’t personally affect me).   I am one who will try to stand up for others, even if that only can be done by speaking my mind (or posting something on a social media platform about it).

But I also knew that I really needed this break.  And I knew it wouldn’t be a forever thing.  Just long enough to de-stress enough to not lose sleep or start crying for “no reason”.

One thing that I realized by separating myself from social media for even just a few weeks … social media is definitely an addiction!  I had serious withdrawals during those first few days.  No, I didn’t have the DTs, but I had to force myself to NOT go onto Facebook to check what was going on.  I ended up deleting the app from my phone and I removed it as a “favorite” on my computer.  For a few days I would have this feeling like I was missing something or forgetting something.  I realized what I was “missing” was that constant need to check Facebook to see what was recently posted.

It’s been about 3 weeks now.  I am much calmer!  I actually like not knowing EVERY horrible news detail!  Even if it means I’m missing out on certain things being posted by those on my friends list.

Actually, in the past couple of days I have gone back onto Facebook twice, but now I skim very quickly through my news feed.  If something looks even remotely like it’s related to something in the news or to politics, I quickly skip it.  I’m looking to connect with friends, and want to see the positive things happening in their lives, and to cheer them on!  I am thankful to my friends who post funny non-political memes!  And I like seeing the pics of people out and about, enjoying their lives!

The most important thing that came out of my short break from Facebook … I realized that it really isn’t an absolute necessity to have in my life!   At this point in time, I am not ready to delete my account completely, but I am only going to go on Facebook once in a while now, rather than multiple times a day. And it’s definitely no longer one of the first things I check when I wake up! 

I find it freeing!  I can spend the time I used to mindlessly scroll through my news feed to do things that will add positivity into my life!  I have added a couple of new apps to my phone (because yes, I’m still addicted to the phone!) that are meant to add positivity to my life.  One is a daily positive quote and the other is a “gratitude” community, where people post about the positive things happening in their lives and what they are grateful for.  They’re all strangers, but I like that it’s positive!  I have more time to actually socialize in real life.  And I am a lot calmer!!

Would you ever consider taking a break yourself?  Try it, even if it’s just for a week!  You’ll be surprised how freeing it can be!!