I've never been much of a New Year's resolutions person. I say things like, "I believe in trying to be my best self everyday." Or, "Time is a construct, so why pin so many hopes on a completely arbitrary deadline?" I am completely aware that these are boilerplate statements for the vaguely lazy and unmotivated. But for 2015, I might be ready for a big pronouncement of self-improvement, because I haven't been my best self this year.
Now, in a lot of ways, 2014 has been great. I saw a lot of new places for the first time: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Dublin, Galway, London, Cape Cod. I had the most productive writing year on record, finishing two novels and a number of short stories. I moved to an awesome apartment in an awesome new neighborhood. Yay! But there was some not great stuff too. A massive restructuring at my day job resulted in a new role for me, one that I don't like, and I let it ruin at least a small part of every evening since March. I wasted who knows how much time staring idly at Facebook (more on that later). I still have boxes to unpack in my basement--like, a lot of boxes, not just a few. I got out of the habit of cooking at home. I got out of the habit of playing guitar every day. And all of these things just sort of formed a swirling vortex of meh around me, which I combatted with more Facebook.
I just want to be better than that. No sweeping resolutions, no rules, no dates, no qualifiers, but I want 2015 to be full of the good from this year with none of the bad.
In 2015 I want to:
make music every day
So about Facebook.
I'm in the middle of a Facebook rehab/detox/competition/I don't even know how to describe it with a friend. After realizing that basically any time I was idle for more than 5 second, I would open the app on my phone and page through post after post from people I wasn't even really friends with in high school. I got nothing whatsoever out of this, save for an occasional flash of outrage over someone's obtuse politics or a general irritation at an aggressively mundane status update, a la "Getting ready to eat a sandwich!" (Lots of people have written brilliantly about ways Facebook is terrible, so I don't need to say any more about that.) Now, to be clear, there are plenty of posts worth reading, from people I'm close with in actual life, not just the weird subset of human relationships that social media has created. But the people I like most tend to be online lurkers (as I am), so my Facebook feed is disproportionately full of updates from people I'd rather not have updates from at all. And yet, paradoxically, though I wasn't interested in it, I was checking it constantly.
I don't even want to know how much time in the 4 years of smartphone ownership I've spent using the app.
Actually, that's not true: I do want to know. I'm really curious. I want to know so I can feel incredibly self-satisfied at cutting down that usage to a mere fifteen minutes a day.
Okay, so it might be early for such smugness. But I'm working on it. My friend and I created a set of parameters, because going cold turkey seemed simultaneously too hard and also unnecessarily radical. We are allowed to use Facebook for fifteen minutes each evening. We're allowed to view updates for things we have subscribed to notifications for, and we're allowed to use the Messenger app since it is separate from the dreaded newsfeed. If we should give into temptation to look at Facebook outside of the proscribed reasons and time, we're on the hook for fifty cents per minute, which we are paying into a Paypal account with plans to use the money for a trip in the future. So far, 2 weeks in, there's roughly $30 in there between the two of us.
(Just deleting app would obviously be easier--and cheaper--but we're in it for the glory of conquering the addiction, rather than just removing the temptation. Also, it is our way to make things more complicated than necessary. It keeps things interesting.)
I've had lots of feelings about it so far:
1. Amazement at the sheer amount of time contained in a single day
2. Frustration because I want to scroll through that damn boring newsfeed but I'm not allowed
3. Embarrassment at being so addicted to something so pointless
4. Lonely, because even though lurking in acquaintances' online lives doesn't actually count as social interaction, it feels like it does
5. Excited, because there is hope.
The trick, though, is to create a life that does not rely on petty distraction, not just a life that doesn't involve Facebook. That means no stupid games (TwoDots, OMFG), no binge-reading advice columns, or looking at those dog-telling-Anna-Kendrick-a-joke memes on Imgur. Not replacing Facebook with those things, anyway.
There is no set time frame for this experiment. I guess we'll either become cured, give up, or take a trip so fabulous with all of the money that we forget Facebook existed in the first place.