Learnings From My Facebook Hiatus

I went on a Facebook hiatus last week.

Five days. Here’s what I discovered.

First thing I noticed was that I missed what they call Facebook Memories. Each morning they’d send me a list of posts I’d made on that date over the past 12 years. Some days there’d only be a few, some days there’d be ten or eleven. One morning not so long ago, I got none, which was highly unusual and showed me just how much I missed remembering.

I missed the comfort and support I’d have gotten by sharing Jackson’s journey with his heartworm protocol. The day this idea hit me was the day he got his first shot of melarsomine. It’s done intramuscularly and treated like a surgical procedure.

Sasha and Jackson in better days

Sasha has moved to my mom’s little house for the duration as we must keep Jackson quiet and they like to romp a bit too much. His back was shaved around the area of the injection to create a sterile field and we’ve got three prescriptions — a steroid, a pain reliever, and a tranquilizer — to give him daily for the next month, when he gets his next shot and we do this all over again.

This was one of those opportunities when, of all the friends I’ve accumulated around the globe, someone, somewhere, would type off a word or two of comfort and concern. It’s such a simple way to connect, and in an era when connection is so dramatically curtailed, I’ve come to find it vital. I missed that quite a bit.

I missed sharing good news too.

We got our first delivery of biofuel on Thursday and I had no one to brag to. Well, I texted a son who was appropriately impressed, but normally Facebook would have been my megaphone and he would have learned of it from that.

With Woody’s laid up right hand this summer we’ve not gotten as much firewood in as we usually do. So, this discovery could not have come at a better time. NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL for us, I’d have shouted from the virtual rooftop. Left over grease, bacon fat, and veggie oils shall heat our home.

And, in the even-better-news category, we learned that F W DeKlerk, upon his recent death, left a video apologizing for “the pain, the hurt, and the indignity” the policy of apartheid had caused under his watch.

I so wanted to share it on Facebook, eager to spread the word that I’m still waiting for such a video from Reagan, from W, and from Rumsfeld and Chaney. How highly unusual it is to get an apology for government policy that is so obviously wrong. Decades ago, Robert McNamara finally apologized for his role in keeping the war in Vietnam going; perhaps there’s a video of that to be found.

I missed simply touching base with my social media friends.

Particularly when one was quite ill. I’d bonded with a Colorado woman over our rather extreme winter weather conditions. Two days before I left on hiatus I learned she was in a hospital on a ventilator. How to keep tabs? I had her address; I’d send her a card. One with a stamp on it.

I got reading The Winter of Our Discontent, the only John Steinbeck novel I’d not read, and noticed it took place between Easter and the end of summer. I probably would have written something about that on Facebook. It just seemed interesting to me.

Friday afternoon I got curious. What would happen if I clicked on my facebook app? Here’s what I got:

My experiment was going well, I thought. Nothing too dramatic anyway. I could hold off another two days and eight hours.

Sunday morning, my last day, I awoke to a beautiful snow fall, our first. I always post those pictures, taken from my bedroom window looking down toward the yurt and the pond. I still took the picture and really wanted to share it. I wanted to show people how beautiful it is up here where I live in Vermont. Then I remembered my Colorado friend again. She’d have liked that photo.

I missed using Facebook to solve a modern day dilemma.

I’ve done this often over the years. The summer of 2020, for example, I posted a photo of my pathetic garlic crop and got lots of advice, including an invitation to join a group about to place an order for organic garlic ready to plant. We’ve been enjoying my 2021 garlic harvest since whenever it was I dug them up.

This year it was a recipe I needed. Saturday I uncovered a gargantuan fresh shoulder ham in my basement freezer; my first second thought was that I’d just pop off a Facebook post and see what recipes I could collect. Then I remembered I was on hiatus; it would have to wait until Monday. My first thought? “Damn! I forgot to cook it when the kids were here this summer.”

I’ve come to a renewed appreciation of Facebook.

Facebook tells me I have over 1,400 friends. That number is somewhat artificial for I certainly don’t interact regularly with even ten percent of them. But I can look any of them up if I get curious what they’re up to. They can look me up too. But no one can post to my page without my approval. I have unwritten criteria in what I want my Profile Page to express and keep a tight rein on what shows up there.

Civility, of course. Curiosity, absolutely. Compassion and humor, of necessity these days.

I went through an unfriend frenzy a few years back and have never regretted it; some “friends” I simply block. (This means I can still look them up, but their posts won’t show up in my News Feed). The biggest control I think has been that no one is able to post to my Timeline (aka Profile Page) until I approve it. And I rarely skim through my News Feed these days.

Facebook has been my “happy place” since 2009, five years before my memoir came out. I work to keep it a happy place. And now I know why.

How about you? What constraints have you put in place to keep your social media contained?

4 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Interesting findings. Now I won’t have to do it: I’ll just be less intentional about other postings and not check FB for a while – ha!

    Millennials think FB is for grandmas. I heard one say so a few days ago. Still, I like to see updates from family and friends. I always pin up my Wednesday blog on FB and often a New Yorker cartoon. Instagram is my new favorite.

    Congrats on using biofuels this winter. And for giving us a hiatus report. Happy Thanksgiving!
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Who is Heman? Thanksgiving 2021My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Marian, Look who missed the MailChimp notification step! Oh well.

      I’ve tried Instagram. Kathy actually got me on it during one of our visits. My grandchildren are on it and I want to follow them. But I am quite befuddled by it. I like the accumulated history that FB offers (those Memories were the first thing I noticed I missed). And it feels creepy how just anyone can Follow me.

      Oh well. Takes all kinds, as they say.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Learnings From My Facebook HiatusMy Profile

  2. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    I like the memories as well. And the birthday reminders. I seldom miss a birthday now. I have not had a problem with Facebook, although I know some folks have. I mainly like to keep in touch with my family as we are all so spread out. Thanks for the update on Jackson, I do hope he will be OK.
    Darlene Foster recently posted…Where were you?My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh yes, the birthdays. I don’t know why, but lately I’m only getting the “Thanks for all the birthday wishes” posts. Then I send off a Happy Belated. Oh well; that will sort itself out. May be how the birthday person has their settings (hmmm; maybe they’ve unfriended me).

      Cheers, Darlene. Thanks for adding your voice.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Learnings From My Facebook HiatusMy Profile

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