Two years ago I got back on Facebook. Besides this blog and YouTube, Facebook is the only social media I use (I think - I use so much internet technology it's sometimes hard to tell how 'out there' I am). I'm going to write mainly about Facebook, since that particular medium soaks up the majority of my time.
I won't lie - Facebook this time around has made a tremendous impact upon my life. I have 'friends' in 6 of the 7 continents. It has opened me up to information and people and ideas I might not have ever known without Facebook. I've found another area of spiritual support through Facebook, and I have been challenged to look at what I believe and the way I think through the posts I've explored.
I'm listing some ways I've discovered Facebook to be helpful and harmful to my recovery by listing 'skillful' and 'unskillful' ways I've used it, with the unskillful ways first. Please note that these aren't "do's and don't's" for me - I'm not perfect, and waver between skillful and unskillful every time I'm on the computer or my phone. This is simply what I've discovered so far that seems to work and not work for me.
- Making assumptions about peoples' lives as well as comparing myself to others by what I read on Facebook. Even though people tend to share a lot more (sometimes too much!) about their lives than ever before, I must remember that what I see on Facebook is still just a snippet of someone. Some people share what they feel is going wrong in their lives, some people share what they feel is going right, some people share only their children or pets, and some people don't share at all and comment only on others' posts. Nobody, me included, shares everything (even in this blog). Still the best way to get to know someone is to sit down with them and spend some time with them.
- Sharing my political opinions on Facebook. Opinions are like buttholes - everyone has them and they all stink. But, seriously, for me, there are a few things that aren't good for me about sharing my political opinion:
- I've found that it's not my path to share political views. If I go by the number of responses to posts I've made with political views versus the number of other posts I've made, I can tell most people aren't interested in my political opinions.
- I've also discovered that, since I really don't research too deeply into any political issue, my comments about political issues parrot one side or the other and aren't very insightful or useful to anyone.
- My role in life is a helper, a person of service to my Higher Power and my fellows. Sharing my political opinions is not only not helpful to that role, it can actually detract from it by alienating people with strong opinions opposite mine. If I can be of service to you, it doesn't matter (for the most part) what your orientation of any type is to me.
- Reading posts that are intended only to inflame. Related to sharing my political or other irrelevant opinions, reading posts that are intended to rile or inflame rather than inform is not good for my mental health. Imagine sitting down for a nice enjoyable session at the computer only to read stuff that riles me up and evaporates my peace of mind - not good for my recovery, so why do it? I've un-followed people for whom the majority of their posts is inflaming political rhetoric (and memes) whether I agree with them or not! My peace of mind is of utmost importance to me and my recovery; most posts that inflame me give me 'information' that I can do nothing about, so there's no good point to exposing myself to them.
- Spending too much time on Facebook. I don't know what is the correct amount of time to spend on Facebook and other social media; however, I think I spend too much time on it. Some ways to tell when I'm spending too much time on Facebook:
- When I'm looking for you or other posters to entertain me. Sometimes I scroll and scroll and scroll looking for something to pique my interest or fill that hole inside. It's time to get off and do something else.
- When I'm procrastinating. Sometimes I have things that would be better for me to do - like the dishes - but I instead engage with Facebook.
- When I let social media keep me up later than is healthy. Sometimes I do personal YouTube concerts for two hours or more. I like them; I'm not sure how helpful they are.
- When I do Facebook first thing in the morning, before anything else. My belief is the first things to do in the morning that are best for me are those things that align me with my Higher Power and Higher purpose.
- Decreased social interactions. This is preferable to my introvert personality, but detrimental to the whole me. My last post was about feeling again, and since I put it out to the Universe that I'd like to start feeling again, I imagine my social interactions will increase, because those feelings I want to feel again are often caused by messy real human interactions.
- Choosing my path on Facebook. No matter what Mark Zuckerberg's intentions are for Facebook, and no matter what one might hear, an individual does have a great deal of choice about what appears on their Facebook feed. Here are some of my choices:
- Comedy - I enjoy a good laugh, and laughter is healthy. I had to go through a few humor pages until I found one that was funny without bashing anybody (for the most part).
- Peaceful - I un-followed some of my friends who prefer posting about weapons and the glory of war and such - not my thing.
- Grateful - somehow, I got linked up with a group called The Gratitude Circle. I think this group, more than any other, has had an influential part in my life.
- Spiritual - I chose groups that seem to align with the path I'm on, or groups that seem to be where I'd like to be.
- Recovery Oriented - I've joined groups that are filled with others in recovery in order to garner new ideas about recovery and share in others' experiences.
- Connection. I feel connected to some of my friends whom I've never met. This is a double-edged sword, as it would be good for me to have closer physical connections, but, on the other side of it, it's good for me to have connections at all, and the people with whom I'm friends are real people, even if I can't hug them.
- Healing relationships. Through Facebook, and Divine Providence, I think, I was able to re-connect with my two siblings and some other relatives with whom I had broken off communications some years ago. In addition, I've discovered some relatives I didn't know existed.
- Personal healing. This blog and my interactions on Facebook have given me a medium that I can use to explore myself. I don't know that I can explain it any more than that.
- Expanding my horizons. As I've mentioned, I have friends on 6 of the 7 continents, and they're a diverse bunch. Facebook allows me to get a broader view of humanity without having to leave my apartment.
- YouTube. It was pointed out to me that the average US individual has more entertainment at their fingertips than kings and queens did just a couple of centuries ago. There is a wealth of free stuff on YouTube - from meditations, to music, to instructional videos on how to fix my car. All of these have enriched my life.
I chose to write about recovery and social media because of the impact it has had on me. It's important in recovery to pay attention to what we ingest - not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I'm grateful that I have these tools in my life, and I'm glad I've been led to use them wisely. I will keep social media as long as it exists and helps me grow in my recovery.