Why I’m Not on Facebook Anymore

Why I’m Not on Facebook Anymore

The thoughts in this post are not new, there are many people thinking the same thing, everything is a regurgitation in one way or another, but taking the time to consider the thought (instead of “like” or “share”) and relate it to your own experience and create new actions in your life, or new combinations of thoughts is how we learn and grow. After all, as Tony Robbins says, “The path to success is to take massive, determined action”. Whatever your expression of “success” is.

Facebook is a regurgitation forum, I found myself reacting to ideas and posts by either sharing them or responding to them, rarely speaking my own ideas. The reality is, I was in reactive mode–impulsive and unable to hold a consistent thought long enough to come up with conclusions I had not considered before. Or on a good day, too distracted to take the time to shape those considerations into a practical thought, let alone a useful action. New thoughts, conclusions and actions require consistent attention to something, and time to mull it over and digest it.

 

Contemplation

As a girl, long before the internet was a household thing, I read books. A lot of books. I read the encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z. I was already hooked on learning, hooked on wanting more information. In contrast to Facebook and the internet in general though, I was encouraged by the books to take several days to read a collection, and to be contemplative and imaginative in my reflections while reading. It was one book, one topic at a time, nobody else’s opinions but my own floating through my head.

Hackneyed

I remember reading a book about space and gravity, when I was 11 or so. My developing brain was fascinated by the thought that everything falls down towards your feet, unless it is stopped by a barrier, like your pocket. I liked to climb trees, and change and stuff falling out of my pocket was a problem. My solution, after being inspired by the lack of gravity in space, was to cut the pocket out of my old jeans, belt loop intact, and attach it to my belt, on top of my regular pocket. Since it swung freely, I could hang upside down, the pocket would flip over and my change, pretty rocks, string and pocket-knife, would stay in place. Of course a zippered or hook and loop closure would have been easier, but I didn’t have access to that technology, I just made do with what I had. I was INVENTIVE, not hackneyed and if you google that you will get “(of a phrase or idea) lacking significance through having been overused; unoriginal and trite”.

Dopamine Junkie

Surfing the net too much was making me into a dopamine junkie. Hundreds or thousands of little dopamine hits an hour, with my mind wandering—searchingall over cyberspace like a central american stray dog desperate for more scraps in the garbage can. My early fascinations with the encyclopedia were a prelude to an addiction to endless content on the internet.

I loved all the nice connections I made on Facebook, but the dark side is that people are more likely to say things in discussions or debates they would never say to someone’s face, making FB a place where insults and all the negativity they create is much more common than in my everyday interactions. Pair that negativity with the realization that my thought quality was suffering and I was being reactive instead of creative, of course I turned to the internet to find a solution. I learned that creative thoughts come from a commitment or promise while reactive thoughts are triggered by our inherent programs, the stuff that circulates and recirculates in our brain that creates our identity.

What do you do?

So what do you do to help move into a more creative thought pattern and away from reactive rumination? Well, you realize that you don’t need thoughts to experience the world. Actually, experiencing life through thought is like going to the best restaurant in the world and not eating anything. When you think about everything, you live life through the stories of your past, the uncontrollable thoughts that regurgitate themselves over and over, reflecting what you have already experienced not what you are currently experiencing. When you pay attention to those thoughts, those stories, you give them life, and your brain thinks that they are important, and the cycle continues.

How did that rock get there? Do you think the person who put it there thought about what they were doing, or just did it? Was it a child, or an adult? (Topsail Beach, Conception Bay South, NL April 2017)

Reticular Activiating System

Our reticular activating system keeps these thoughts at the front of our minds as a survival technique. It’s a survival instinct born from simple existential patterns. If you are hungry you need food, food looks like berries, you need to be able to find berries, so your brain keeps the details necessary to find berries in the forefront of your thoughts, so that you will recognise not only berries, but the environments that will lead you to finding them.

Want to learn more about your reticular activating system?
Mark Dawes has a good video explanation of how it relates to your self-image.

And my favourite teacher, Marie Forleo has a video with Dr. Cathy Collautt about How to Re-Program Your Subconscious Mind to Get What You Want

Target Fixation

So, if you are always thinking, always regurgitating those same thoughts, your reticular activating system thinks they must be existentially important, and therefore keeps the details necessary to find those circumstances so that you will recognise not only whatever you are thinking, but the environments that will lead you to finding them. You will unconsciously be led down the path to recreate what you have already experienced, and you will seek out and find the things you spend the most time thinking about, wether negative or positive.

Many recent studies show that unconscious goal pursuit produces the same outcomes that conscious goal pursuit does (reviews in Dijksterhuis, Chartrand, & Aarts, 2007; Fitzsimons & Bargh, 2004).

Paying attention to negative things gives them life energy and sends a continuous  message to your brain that they are important for your survival. As a motorcyclist I have often experienced “target fixation” where I saw a pothole or a rock in my path, and was so focused on the rock or pothole, that I hit it. The solution? “Look where you want to go.”

Mindfulness

So, I had to learn to not pay attention to reactive thoughts & emotions. I learned that resisting thought is a negative way of paying attention and not minding is what I needed to practice. This isn’t a normal way to behave in our society, and finding people to share this with is difficult. It takes commitment and discipline to learn to be mindful.  Being mindful (allowing thoughts to pass through without giving them attention) has been the most challenging and worthy endeavor I have experienced to date. It isn’t something you accomplish, it is something you practice, something you learn continuously. Yes, it involves meditation, and meditation is the exercise that makes everyday, moment to moment mindfulness possible. 

So why did I delete my Facebook account?

Well, after Facebook blocked my page, out of the blue, and demanded I prove my identity by sending them ID (a good thing really, it shows they are protecting our accounts), and after being forced off for a week or so, I realized how much better my life was without it. (Except that I had a work-related event setup on Facebook, and their block prevented my event page from showing, and my clients were affected as well.)

And, I deleted my account because I never would have written this blog post, and I would not have had the time or energy left after spending an hour absorbing the stuff there to even think about what I was doing. I would have had all kinds of ideas, but not pursued them, because I was distracted by a misogynous statement, or mean-hearted insult, or a war or murder or gun control debates or, yes Trump. Are those things not important? Well, yes, they are, and I now purposely look for ways to be a part of the solution for these things, I don’t engage in the thoughts that created it all in the first place. Well, that is the direction I am going, I don’t purport to be perfect at it!

Being a part of the constant barrage of well-meaning but negative, and damaging thoughts was no longer where I wanted to be, I now go to a select few places and take part in the discussion on things that truly interest me. I’m retraining my brain to stay focused on one thing longer. I have elements and people in my life that drive my growth: people, books, courses, life practices, conversations… things that encourage me to continue to develop and don’t encourage me to stay steeped in my past. Then when I come back to the web, what I search for will be upgraded because I am growing. I no longer expect Google or Facebook to provide me new information to help me grow—they are looking in my past comfort zone, not where I am growing.

Mindfulness can be achieved through just being where you are, taking in everything in your immediate environment without judgement. Did you look at this photo and think “what a beautiful view” or “I want to do that”? That is judgement. The goal is not to remove that judgement, but to not buy into and get entangled in the judgment. In that moment, when I took that photo, I was feeling a great gratitude, I took the photo, and then just stood there while Molly packed her bag, taking in the scene, smelling the air, feeling the crispness, hearing the idling engine, and seeing my friends, the three of us serendipitously together.

A book I am looking forward to reading is called Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He writes,  “What is a Flow State? Simultaneously being challenged to the limits of your ability in something, and totally loving it. Such as problem solving, reading a good book, rising to a challenge at work, etc.” In my case, this is riding a Super Sherpa 250 from Key West to St. John’s Newfoundland, while working remotely!

What do You Think?

Did you find this blog post interesting? Can you relate? Comment below, please. Be a part of the positive discussion.

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