It’s been sneaking up on me. This feeling that maybe my attachment to Facebook is teetering on the edge of unhealthy. I only started noticing when I gave myself a casual directive to stay off FB for a whole day. In about 37 minutes, I had already overridden the directive. When I realized it, I rationalized. “I HAD to. It was work related.” Bullshit. Whatever it was, it would have waited 24 hours without anyone noticing. Honestly.
So that made me curious. I had fallen into unconscious behavior so quickly, so easily, that I thought it might make for a really good experimental meditation. And so I watched my mind for the next day, trying to identify what it was thinking as I approached, used, refrained from, and engaged with the world of Facebook. Here are some of the things I found.
As I rise in the morning:
Usually before brushing of teeth, or meditating, or anything else…it’s a look at my laptop, to check out ‘what’s going on in the world.’ But the news isn’t my first click. It’s FB. And not just FB, but my wall on FB. And just before clicking, as I look inward, I’m thinking “I wonder if anyone commented on anything I’ve said.” Redux: “Who likes me?”
If no one commented:
There’s the initial disappointment. And then I start analyzing. Too preachy? Not current enough? Maybe I’m not cool anymore. Maybe I never was. (And then a sense of being behind, irrelevant, overlooked.)
Go to the news feed, and start scrolling for something to catch my interest. (Read: “Make me feel better.”) This can come in a million different ways. It can be the piano-playing, singing poodle. (Amazing!) It can be a ‘hilarious’ clip from the Daily Show or Bill Maher (Translation: ‘We’ are so much better than ‘they’ are.) And this scrolling works! If I “like” and comment with pithy remark, it will reinstate me as cool or accepted or whatever, and I feel better. But, just like the alcoholic who can’t just have one drink, it’s never enough. So…Keep scrolling. More possibilities: the injustices being perpetrated on us by Monsanto or the US Government or insurance/pharmaceutical/whatever companies, with the obligatory call to action (click here!)—which is accompanied by the illusion of having actually taken action. Now I really feel better, because not only am I cool and ‘part of the club,’ I’m also righteous and brave and doing the right thing. (Meanwhile, I’m still in my jammies, and my dog is whining at the door.)
There is no Option 2.
If someone did comment:
Split second judgment: Is this person someone whose opinion I care about? If so, the puffed up chest, followed by a desire to either appear unfazed ]
or exceedingly likable
depending on the personality of the commentator. (So basically: “Like me! LIke me!”)
Bottom line: FB is a Costco-sized liquor store for the emotional alcoholic. It’s an endless playground for the ego (with billions of toys to help you either feel artificially bad or good about yourself—your ego doesn’t care. Either way, it gets reinforced.) Sounds like I’m coming down hard on FB, but I’m not. It’s neither good nor bad, in and of itself. It’s just like a knife, or a rope, or water or the world. The knife can be used on the killing floor or in the kitchen. A rope can strangle or save. Water can revive or utterly destroy. It’s how you use them. It’s where your heart is when you use them.
Where is your heart, when you log into your Facebook account? Where is your mind? Keep track. Pay attention. Mine was using FB for nonstop, unconscious ego bingeing. Not a bad thing. Just really interesting to notice, given that I’d like to reach a point someday where my ego serves me, instead of the other way around. So I’ll keep trying to stay conscious. And I will certainly keep failing. But maybe a little less, each time, eventually becoming a more conscious version of myself.