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Facebook I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down

Originally posted by the kind, brilliant, inspirational gems at Folk Rebellion

I’m Chelsea, and I’m a millennial. Much like the ‘hipster’ label often thrown at me, I try to resist this millennial moniker, but deep down I know it’s true. I can be highly impulsive, I have a profound feeling that ‘the man’ and ‘the system’ are not for me, I’m determined to change the world and travel, without sacrificing the luxuries to which my privileged upbringing has made me grow accustomed. Perhaps, above all else, I want to live a life worth instagramming. And facebooking. And filming and tweeting and periscoping – I want to share it all, and I really want the double tap.

Even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous it sounds. Do I truly identify as someone so committed to creating a life that fits into a square box? Does it matter to me whether the girl who I completed an internship program with sophomore year doesn’t like any of my Facebook posts? Of course it does, because though we weren’t friends, and I know nothing of her non-shared life, she works at Teen Vogue, and her life is so much more likeable than mine.

As a result of the above musings, and so many more, I’m committing to a social media detox. I’m not claiming to be the first to do it – sites likeMashable, Refinery29 and Huffington Post have gone here before – and I certainly won’t be the last. But if you’re interested, I’d love to have you read along, and maybe even join me or a little solidarity.

I’m seven days in at this moment, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still struggling. On day one, I realized that my Spotify is linked to my Facebook. I’d already deactivated my account – see the guilt trip they throw at you for trying to leave below. And that was before the phantom instagramming kicked in. No, I didn’t daydream about posting, but when I came into the office to find Christmas presents from my bosses on my desk? I took a picture intending to post it. When I got a new package of goodies in the mail? Went to ‘gram it. And when I was preparing to teach my weekend yoga classes, I got as far as opening my browser and typing in ‘fac’ to request that people join me before remembering my detox.

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I’ve done a Facebook detox before, and in theory I knew what I was getting myself into. So why, dare I ask, am I having such disconnection discomfort?

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Constant connection can drive feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out), pressure us to never stop working, and even spark anxiety or depression. 10 p.m. work emails, anyone? According to an exploration on the psychology of social media by the scheduling app Buffer, social media affects two major chemicals in the brain – dopamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine causes seeking behavior, triggering us to want, desire, seek out, and search. It increases our general level of arousal and our goal-directed behavior – supercritical stuff when you think back to our neanderthal ancestors, who needed to search for essentials like food, water and shelter. Today, many of us in the west have the resources to meet those basic needs, so we fill our desire to seek with other sources of information: enter social media. Finding out what your work frenemy had for lunch? Dopamine. Seeing your ex’s photos ice skating with their new partner, and their new puppy? Dopamine. Each time we find more information, we’re incentivized to keep scrolling, keep clicking until we can get our next fix – and that’s before you throw in oxytocin.

Known by many as the love hormone, oxytocin is released when you hug or kiss. Apparently, chilling on your social networks can up oxytocin levels too; a study by Dr. Paul J. Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, showed that after 10 minutes of tweeting, oxytocin levels can spike by over 13 percent.

From a Fast Company article written by the subject of this experiment:

“That’s equivalent to the hormonal spike experienced by the groom at the wedding Zak attended [earlier that summer]. Meanwhile, stress hormones cortisol and ACTH went down 10.8 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively. Zak explains that the results are linked, that the release of oxytocin I experienced while tweeting reduced my stress hormones.”

If I had to guess, I’d imagine you’re thinking, this sounds great, I get to tap into my primal need to search and discover, while decreasing stress and increasing the love hormone. Sign me up! And to an extent, you’re right. Social media can be a fantastic tool – hell I wouldn’t be writing this post right now if it weren’t for Instagram. However, as Robert Palmer tells us, you might as well face it you’re addicted to… social media.

I’m always a little curious just how addicted to technology I am– sure I get those phantom vibrations, and I catch myself reaching for my phone the moment my brunch partner heads to the restroom, but that’s normal, right? Sure, for a social media addict. I try to resist the urge, but oftentimes it’s so second nature that I don’t notice I’m stuck in a scrolling hole until it’s too late.

This isn’t my first rodeo with signing off from social. The longest I went without a Facebook was about 15 months, between my sophomore and senior years of college. It took a while to get ‘clean,’ but once I did it was such a relief. No more obsessing over a friend’s thigh being thinner than mine, not having the coolest and most recent vacation photos, and no more feeling guilty about turning down invites to events I don’t want to go to.

I found myself more present and focused on those in my immediate presence, and more concerned with taking time to reach out to my true close friends. The pressure to have to speak to someone to learn about their life was really lovely, and I am looking forward to getting back there again.

I have not set a time limit for this particular detox. I’ve already realized that I’ll have to kick Facebook back on this week for temporary contributor purposes, and I have to keep it active if I want to continue using Spotify. I’ve got an uphill battle this time around – eliminating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is going to be a long road. But I’m excited to get unplugged, and even more pumped to be able to share my journey with the Folk Rebellion.

I’d love for you to take this journey with me, if you’re interested in what happens as I peel away the layers toward finding my pre-internet self. More to come.

yours in rebelliousness (like not capitalizing a sign off, egads.)

Chelsea

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