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Why I'm Deleting Facebook The Day My Child Starts Kindergarten

Once upon a time there was a site called Friendster. Friendster was unique being the first social networking site. We thought we had struck gold. It was pretty cool because you could see all of your friends in one spot - online!  All hours of the day! Without having to send an email!


Soon Friendster had some friendly competition when along came Myspace. Everyone flocked to Myspace like he was the first guy in 10th grade who had his license and a car! It was hip. It was cool. All of your friends were there, all of their friends were there, you could post pictures, meet all sorts of new people from your friend's friends, you could discover cool music. It was like a college frat party on the internet.

Myspace got kinda big for it's britches and thought it was untouchable. Then I got a message on Myspace from a friend of mine who said, "You should try this new site called Facebook. You have to use your real name so it's not all overcrowded with a bunch of posers using fake names and made up profiles. It's just like hanging out in real life and it's so much better than Myspace!" 

The End.

It was 2004. I wasn't married. I had not even met my husband yet. I was living in Los Angeles waiting tables at a snobby French restaurant pursuing acting and writing and I had all the time in the world to be on a social networking site.

Fast forward to 2013. I've moved 7 times since 2004. I became a very busy Pilates Instructor at a fancy studio in WeHo (West Hollywood). I got engaged. I got married. We moved across the Pacific Ocean to Kauai one month after our wedding. We bought a house (my first house and our first house together.) We celebrated our one year anniversary on Maui. We got pregnant. We had a baby. The economy crashed and millions of people across the country were out of work and loosing their houses. We lost the house - our first house. All three of us moved back across the Pacific Ocean to become mainlanders once again. We started over from scratch. We saved every penny and ate 99 cent mac and cheese. We bought a brand new car that was safe for our growing family (a minivan). We had another baby (this baby was born in a warm pool of water in our house caught by me.) My husband got his dream job. We moved again (lucky #7) this time we were looking for things like parks near the house and a good school district with an elementary school that was walking distance from our house even though it seemed like years and years away that we'd be starting school...and now our first born is starting kindergarten in two days!

I've been on FB (off and on) for 8 years. EIGHT YEARS!  It's hard to believe that I have lived this entire adult (family) life yet before it all even started I was on Facebook. I feel like I've been a mom forever and that I have been married forever...but it's still not as long as I have been on Facebook. That is mind boggling to me that this social networking site has been in my life longer than my husband or my children. This actually does not sit easy with me. I have had a love/hate relationship with facebook for many years, yet I'm still here. Why is that?

I left in 2009 and wrote this which basically started this mom's blog.

This was when I really realized that Facebook doesn't care about it's users at all because it was making changes that was limiting your privacy more and more...yet I stayed there...

I wrote a post here 2 years after I left the first time talking about how negative I feel Facebook has become.

I've gone Screen Free a few different times just to take a break from the time suck that is Facebook and to make more of an effort to get back to what is important.

I even wrote this a few days ago which I consider to be my rock bottom in my Facebook addiction.

This is a lot of time and energy spent on this thing called social networking. It's become a person in my life who can be just as demanding as a toddler. Back in the day when it first started there wasn't a real time ticker tape of what people were doing constantly. Remember when we were all protesting that?  Smart phones were not invented yet (IKR?) so if you wanted to post a pic or check in on what your friends were doing you had to be sitting at your computer. (This was pre laptop for me, so I was actually at my computer desk that was plugged into the wall.)   This is like ancient Egyptian messages scribbled in a cave compared to what we have now.

And now it's too much. Too many alerts, too many notifications, too many ads. Remember when there weren't any ads? I feel as if Facebook has caused me to have ADD. Life is forced to evolve with technology and technology is moving faster than it takes to make a handcrafted caramel cappuccino these days. The more technology we accumulate that pulls us away from real life the less we are living life in the moment. The less we are stopping to smell the roses. The less we are making real connections with real people in the flesh.

I'm not going to go on and on about how negative I think Facebook has become or that it has taken over my life in certain ways because I am now thinking about things on Facebook while I'm doing mundane tasks like washing dishes and folding laundry, taking a shower, sitting in traffic. Those used to be the times where I'd dream up new characters of a story I wanted to write, or what music would go with what scene in a screenplay I was writing or even thinking about my To Do list, shopping list or Bucket List. I'd come up with the perfect one liner or a funny scenario I wanted to remember so I'd scramble for my notebook before the thought left my brain. Time spent dreaming the day away is hard to find when you are a stay at home mom to two little ones. Now I'm spending those free precious daydreaming moments mulling over a negative post, comment or something someone said on a parenting page or mom's message board. Or I'm thinking about how guilty I feel for not doing the new parenting "thing," technique, philosophy, or Pinteresty craft/recipe, that everybody else on Facebook is doing posting about.

That brings me to another point (that I won't be going over in this blog post) about why I'm leaving Facebook. This was one of the things we brought up last night in my yoga class when I talked about deleting my Facebook account the day my daughter was going to start kindergarten. We were all in agreement about how a lot of people present themselves and their kids on Facebook in only a positive light in order to avoid judgment. Facebook posts do not equate to real life happenings. Facebook posts are the clean house before company comes over, the clean house before the housekeeper comes over, and the staged area you prep free of dirty dishes, dirty laundry and a cluttered floor before you take a picture of the kids that you are planning to post to Facebook. Facebook posts are the couches and coffee tables in the front room that is there only for when company comes over. You don't actually get to sit on them. They are the fancy ones we save for good. Facebook posts are the clothes you wear to church, the party dress with the frilly socks you can't play in and the shinny black shoes you wear for weddings or family pictures. They are the pumped up resume you write for a new job and the exaggerated essay you write to get into your dream school. Facebook posts are the holiday letters we send to all of our friends and family to inform them about how amazing our lives are, all of the wonderful vacations we took during the year, all of our children's school and sports victories, the milestones our babies are hitting way ahead of schedule of course, and the promotions we're getting at work. Except the difference with holiday cards is, we expect to only hear the good things from everyone because it's once a year, it's Christmas and it's cheery. But Facebook posts occur daily, even several times a day from tens to hundreds of our friends and pages we've liked all hours of the day.

So several times a day we are reminded about what we are not doing. We are reminded about what our kids are not doing, what our husbands are not doing, the crafty homemade birthday party we did not throw for our child, the amazing gourmet dinner we didn't make for Thanksgiving using only organic foods grown in our garden - basically what our lives don't look like in comparison to the rest of the hundreds of thousands of posts and comments we are reading at any given moment.

Just like the media is making young girls think they are fat and that young boys need to be super macho and excel at every sport or else they have no value in society or how there is an entire generation of pre-teens/teenagers and young adults who think that "being famous" is an adult aspiration and getting your own reality show is somehow a job - Facebook is making us feel like we are not enough and not doing enough in our career, in our lives and in our children's lives. It's not based in reality at all.

Before it sounds like I'm getting all high and mighty I want to say that just like the rest of the world, I'm guilty of this too. I don't post pictures of my messy house, or about how I was just yelling at my child to finish her homework. (The homework that was assigned to be turned in on the first day of school - to be completed during summer vacation. Did I mention she is 5 and is going into kindergarten???!!!) Are we expecting too much too young from our small children? Another post for another time. 

I'm not saying that every post is like this from every person every day. I have a good friend, Leah who is always posting something interesting like bands playing, local street festivals happening, new restaurants opening. And she actually goes to these things!  My cousin Kelly is always posting cute funny, light hearted things she is doing and seeing throughout the day and considering she is a big kid at heart it always gives me a laugh. And many other positive things and positive people are happening on my page so I'm certainly not saying that all things give off negative energy all the time. Not all posts create anxiety like you're not measuring up, but many of them do. Even the happy, positive ones. And we have to ask ourselves, how healthy is Facebook on our psyche?  I'm sure I'm not the only one mulling over facebook posts while I'm cooking dinner, or feeling defensive from a comment someone wrote in response to a parenting or birthing choice I made for my family that differs from the norm on a mom's message board, or checking my notifications before my eyes even totally open in the morning because I can do it from my smart phone.

But like I said at the beginning of this post, I'm not going to talk about all that.  (wink)

So, I've decided to take a journey along with my daughter starting the day she starts kindergarten. It will be a day of new beginnings, new transitions, new routines, new people coming into our lives. It seems like the perfect time to say goodbye to old ways, old habits, old insecurities, old time sucking addictions. It's time to shed the negativity and welcome new changes.

Eight years is long enough to have a love/hate relationship with someone or something. Eight years is long enough to have a frenemy. Eight years is long enough to feel obligated to certain aspects of my Facebook life including my friends list. That is a lot of wasted time. I don't even want to try to add up what that looks like in hours. In eight years I could've become fluent in a couple of languages, written the great American novel or two, learned how to play the guitar and the piano, written a movie, made little movies from all of our videos and pictures for the kids to watch, written more children's books, heck I could've gotten a PhD! (All things on my Bucket List by the way...except for getting a PhD, and all things can be completed during the hours one is usually on Facebook.)

Editors Note: In 8 years I could've learned basic math since it's actually been 9 years. 

It's time to start a new chapter of my life, of our lives. One without the constant pull of social media tugging at my brain while I'm trying to clean the house or do some freelance writing or while I'm playing with my kids, trying to get out of the house or trying to do anything that is not checking Facebook. It's time to explore what life would be like at a slower pace - like my life as a child.

Another reason why I'm deleting my Facebook account the day my daughter starts kindergarten besides wanting to be more present and in the moment with my life, is that everyone I know with older kids tells me how fast it all goes. In the blink of an eye your child is born after what feels like a million years pregnant, then all of a sudden it's their first birthday. After that they are off to preschool, you blink again and you are registering for kindergarten. Next time you blink they are off to middle school. You turn your head for a second and they have taken the car keys. Next thing you know you are applying for colleges and sending out graduation announcements and then bang!  Off to college or off to bootcamp or off to start a new career, get married, start a family and then you are in a store buying baby onesies for your first grandchild.

The days are long but the years are short. 

Life is short and when you have children you get to see first hand just how fast it really goes. Better get on it!  Better make it count. Better not waste the minutes that turn into hours and days and years.

Like Red* says, "Get busy living or get busy dying."

I'm excited!  I'm not stressed out like I was for Screen Free Week because I'm approaching this in a different way. I'm not "going on a diet," I'm making healthier food choices that will affect my life in a positive way. I will still be blogging here as much as I can and sending them out into the universe via twitter if you'd like to follow me there. I'm also assuming that I'll be back on Facebook at some point along this journey. However, there is a part of me that is pulling for the scenario that I don't come back, that I will no longer need it, that I get my fill by reconnecting with my friends and loved ones using old school methods and no longer feel the need to see what acquaintances are up to every second of the day. I ask myself this question a lot: "if you have no desire to get together with someone for coffee or a movie or just to chat on the phone with them because they live too far for a visit then why are you using your precious free time to comb through their pictures, and read and respond to things they post?"

I still don't really have an answer to this. I think this is becoming the norm of our society though. Wouldn't you say that? I don't know.

I look forward to the new changes I'll be seeing in my life and I invite you to find the changes you feel you need to make to better your life or the lives you are responsible for as well.

I welcome the positive energy with open arms!

Continue spreading love. Our world needs more love.

Love,
Coco

Poipu Beach, Kauai - 2008
This is where our parenting journey began.
I was already 5 days overdue and now our lil girl is 5 years old.
Time flies!


*For those who might not know, Red is the character played by Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption. One of the best movies of all time. 







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5 comments:

  1. Well said Mama!! I've been struggling with these thoughts as well, hence my own FB break.

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    1. Thank you Missy! I've actually had quite a few messages from other moms of young kids tell me they connected with this post too and feel similar. Nice to know we're not alone! Facebook breaks are good every once in a while. I don't expect people to take extreme measures and delete their account all together, but breaks every now and then are good. Even healthy I think. So good for you too! ;-)

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  2. I totally agree with what you have written! I find that sometimes social media presents a very unrealistic portrail of life that some feel that have to aspire to. Good on you for sticking to your guns! x
    #babybrainmonday

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  3. I'm not a fan of Facebook at all! It's a highlight reel of people's lives, and you can lose hours on there scrolling through other people's pictures as you say, hours of your own life you should be living! That said, I have an accounts and I waste a lot of time there. Respect to you for quitting, or at least taking a break! #winenadboobs

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  4. I love this post so much an I can really relate to it! I also have a love hate relationship with facebook and it's so easy to get sucked in to a hole of self pity or hate seeing how perfect other peoples lives are. I'm so conscious of that which is why i try and post "real" pictures of Arjun and I too - i.e. me looking awful without make up, or Arjun having a tantrum in my messy house! I wish I could take a break from it too but with the blog i've started using it more. However I've stepped away from my personal account and use my blog account more. Good for you for making this move! I hate the amount of time I waste on it! x

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