Society spends way too much time on social media. I’m definitely one of the guilty. So I decided to take a break from Facebook. I’d planned to make notes all week about how I felt about the detox, but that proved unnecessary because I didn’t really miss it.
That’s right. Today is my seventh day not being on Facebook and I’ve found the longer I stay away, the more reluctant I am to go back.
To be fair, I spend a lot of my time on Facebook playing silly games and now there’s an app that allows me to play on my computer without logging on to Facebook. I would say I’m more addicted to the Facebook games than Facebook itself.
That’s not to say there aren’t things I miss. For instance, I use Facebook to chat with author friends, both via Messenger and in groups. I also made a playdate for my kids via Messenger on my cell phone. It would have been much easier to correspond using my computer keyboard rather than the small one on my phone. What I don’t miss is the main feed.
I’m about to get really real with you here.
There’s this thing called Facebook envy, and I am a chronic sufferer.
For the last month, I’ve been taking a break from writing to focus on the study of craft and also to figure out what next steps to take in my career. I’m at a bit of a crossroads, but I’m not going to get into that now. The point of my experiment was not to see if my productivity would increase if I stayed off Facebook (I’d have to quit the games for that). The point was to see if my emotional health would improve.
It seems the grass is always greener on the other side. Again, I’m not going to get into specific details about this, but I think most people can relate. It’s so easy to get caught up in the vicious cycle of comparison. I think authors in particular are susceptible to this. (Author A got three book deal. Author B’s publisher got her a Bookbub but that same publisher didn’t do anything for your book. Author C hit the NYT list—and did I mention she’s been writing five years fewer than you? Author D….it goes on and on.)
At the Washington Romance Writers retreat, Cathy Maxwell said,
“Always be present in your own career. Don’t be present in someone else’s.”
This resonated with me because I’m guilty of it—worrying more about not having what someone else has rather than focusing on what I do have. Because let me tell you, the me from four years ago would bitch slap current me for feeling this way. 2013 me would kill to have what 2017 me has. But it’s all relative, isn’t it? That’s the thing with this business—the bar is always moving. (So I finaled in the Golden Heart in 2014 and won a few contests last year. Great…but what I have done lately?)
And I’m okay with that for the most part. I like challenging myself and “good enough” is never good enough for me. I always want more. I always want to be better.
Wallowing in jealousy is not going to help me get there.
In that regard, staying away from Facebook is good for me. I know that unless someone is an Eeyore by nature, most people tend to only post the good stuff. And heck, they probably embellish a bit as well. However, even though I know that, it’s hard to remember it when faced with all the posted greatness when I’m feeling mediocre at best.
As an author, I can’t avoid Facebook forever. There are workarounds, though. For instance, I can monitor my Facebook page and reader group using Hootesuite and I schedule my posts using SocialPilot. But there’s no way for me to take advantage of my author groups without logging on to the actual Facebook.
And anyway, avoidance isn’t the best solution. True—if I don’t see what’s on Facebook, then I can’t succumb to envy or jealousy, but that’s merely treating the symptom rather than the disease.
So I’m working on it. Like most people, I’m a work in progress.
What this week has taught me (in addition to the craft books I’ve been reading) is that I need to focus on the writing. Everything boils down to producing the best possible book I can. That’s the only thing I control in this crazy publishing business.
Hopefully if I do that, the rest of the pieces will fall into place. Eventually.