Facebook, we have a problem

January 16, 2014 | writing

I’ve been off Facebook for only 36 hours and already I can see a monumental difference in the way I’m working, thinking, living. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s true. I feel more like my old self, much more efficient, focused, forward-moving.

I realize I can’t lay all of those issues at the feet of Facebook. The problem is not Facebook per se but my reaction to Facebook or my relationship with Facebook or my addiction to Facebook. For the past two mornings of Life Without Facebook (LWF), I have actually completed work and sent it off to clients BEFORE Chiara even got on the bus. That’s how I used to work in the old days. I mean, I used to write entire books in three short months not so long ago. But lately, since I’ve gone from casual Facebook user to obsessed Facebook user, I find half the morning gone before I can see my way clear of must-watch Youtube videos, silly memes I need to share, snarky comments I need to make, and don’t even get me started on Pinterest. I could lose DAYS over on Pinterest.

So part of me says, “That’s it. I’m done. No more Facebook.” And yet, and yet, and yet, I just can’t do that. Because so many people I love live just down the street from me on Facebook, and it’s often a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I am oh so happy when I bump into my Facebook friends as I go about my day. I miss seeing all of you over there. Really. I’m not even into two full days of LWF, and I already feel a bit of an ache for some of you and your silly-but-satisfying banter, and the photos of your kids going by in my newsfeed, and the private messages that pop up out of nowhere and brighten my day.

As someone who works alone every day all day in a basement with no natural light and two crazy cats, Facebook is my water cooler and, often, my sanity. If you work from home, you know exactly what I mean. I can often go an entire day without talking to anyone until the kids get home, and so Facebook is my cafeteria table, my cubicle, my table at Murphy’s after a long day on deadline (that’s for all you CNY alums). I don’t want to give it up completely because it would make my very quiet days too quiet, too dull. Some of you can make me laugh out loud without even trying. That’s a good thing. Why would I want to give that up?

So the answer, as is often the case with so much of life, is balance. Can I create a healthy relationship with Facebook, one where I get to see all of you over the course of a day without falling into the mindless scrolling that eats up valuable time from my work day? The answer is yes, of course. Because I am disciplined. You don’t get to work from home for 20 years with no boss standing over you and write six books in the midst of raising three kids without some serious discipline. That I know without question. I just need to figure out what that looks like for me in a landscape that includes Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Bitstrip…

As I said yesterday, I’ll be back sooner rather than later. (My author page continues to run NSS posts, so you may see things generated by that page on Facebook, despite my absence.) Maybe I’ll be back even sooner than I’d originally planned, depending on how much I get done today. And then I’ll watch and see how re-entry affects my productivity. Which is no different than what I would do if I worked in a real office and was spending too much time hanging over the wall of my neighbor’s cubicle or taking one too many trips down to the vending machine for a much-needed break in the guise of a Twix bar.


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Born in 1962, I am one of those tail-end Baby Boomers who doesn’t really fit the mold; my husband is at the leading edge of Gen X. All three of our children ...

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