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The Facebook and Twitter Detox – The First Few Days

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When I told my husband I was staying off Facebook for a week, he laughed. And then he laughed harder and amidst trying not to choke, he asked if they were performing a week-long, shutdown maintenance of the website. When he could finally breathe and realized I was being serious, “The Husband” (as I will henceforth affectionately refer to him) said, “You may want to prepare me for this week.” Pause. “And you might start with an introduction.”

It took me a moment to understand what he meant, but when it hit me I immediately thought, “Rude!” Then I rethought what he said and realized, he was, in essence, right. The Husband never adopted an obsession for any of the social websites. He has a Facebook and a Twitter account, but rarely accesses them. MLB.com is his personal mistress but he still can’t understand the addictive nature of Facebook and Twitter, so this left me on my own in the detoxification department.

I realized then that many times I am either typing or reading updates and then begin a conversation with him as if he knew what I was talking about. At first he was frustrated and tried to get me to explain why I was talking, laughing, or shoving the computer in front of his face to see a video. After a while, he just said, “Yes, dear.” This has made me realize how bad a conversationalist I have become because of the type of online communication I participate in.

Online-speak does not translate well to real life. It is almost as if I have begun speaking in text-speak when I am trying to chat with a real live person. Sadly, I am beginning to think it has become easier to write my responses than it is to speak them.

Being committed to this experiment, I waited until 10:45 p.m. the night before the start of my detox to make my announcement to both social media site friends that I was unplugging for a week. I immediately received responses admitting to this mad addiction, support for the endeavor, and requests for information on what I’ve learned and what I have been able to accomplish. I agreed and then I took the plunge and exited the sites.

Within 20 minutes I was rethinking my plan when the Sherri Shepherd incident occurred.

I recently discovered the power of Sherri Shepherd’s comedy. I was watching some video clips of her (if you haven’t seen the Brazilian wax video or her rant on her Christian Louboutin shoes you are missing comedic brilliance). I was in bed next to The Husband trying not to laugh out loud so I held my hands over my mouth and shook like a dog in the rain. The Husband, who was trying to sleep since it was after 11:00, not so amusedly kicked me out of the bedroom for disturbing him. (He is very serious when it comes to his sleep.) I picked up my iPad to go to Facebook and share the laugh with the world, and then it slammed into me that I had already broadcast my intentions, made my commitment and said goodnight.

My week of abstinence had begun.

The next day, I woke up ill. I had flu-like symptoms so I stayed home from my “keep a roof over my head” paying gig and called the doctor. I slept most of the day, but when I was awake I watched TV and trolled the internet. This is how the Facebook and Twitter taunting went:

On TV, the vampish bait was cast my way on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, the Gerber Generation Commercial, The View, Dr. Oz and even The Baby Story. So many television shows and commercials flashed those famous F and T symbols asking you to find them and “like” them on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter.

My own weaknesses manifested in unconscious thoughts and actions; instances where I had to stop myself from going to these sites and give my updates.

11:25 a.m. – On The Today Show, the discord between Shannon Tweed and Gene Simmons was intense. Are they really breaking up or is this a media ruse?

11:44 a.m. – Just because.

11:45 a.m. – Just because I forgot about the 11:44 “Just Because” moment.

I fell asleep until…

2:10 p.m. – An inciting incident: The Thermometer. How do you know when you need to de-clutter and get organized? When you’re sick and looking for a thermometer, getting angry and creatively cursing. Why does anyone need to know about that? They don’t, but I would have gotten sympathy, similar stories, and a few laughs from my friends.

3:10 p.m. – Again, just because.

3:28 p.m. – Not feeling well and wanted sympathy and soup.

3:31 p.m. – I have Facebook and Twitter on the top Bookmark Menu Bar and, well I hit the button for Twitter. The thing is I didn’t even think about it and I didn’t necessarily want to go to Twitter, but I clicked it and realized my response was quite Pavlovian. I see Facebook or Twitter in the bookmark places and I automatically need to access it. I did not salivate, but I became enlightened to the subtle subliminality of the symbols and buttons singing to us to get us into their online universe. I immediately went about deleting all easy clicks to the websites to avoid temptation.

4:02 p.m. – News about Billy Corgan’s brother Jessie Andersen who was mugged on a Chicago train and has cerebral palsy and Tourette’s syndrome. In the article, I saw a copy of Corgan’s tweeted words asking for people to show his brother support and love on Facebook. He provided a link for us to leave a message. I almost clicked on the link. I don’t know Billy or his brother. I was never a big Smashing Pumpkins fan, but I almost went to their page and gave him a virtual fist pump of support.

Really?

Two days into my detox and I have had some pretty big realizations. Our updates and their inevitable responses let us know we are not alone. They allow us to share ourselves in ways we don’t or can’t with the people around us. But I wonder, are we finding or allowing our true selves to show, or are we manufacturing ourselves to be the people we wish we were?

What do you think?

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About Deborah Blake Dempsey