I tried Facebook for the First Time in 2016, And Here is What I Learned.

What kind of person is not on Facebook? That's what most people think. I know because I have had people say it to me time and time again over the past 11 years. It typically comes out more like "you're not on Facebook?! Who's not on Facebook these days?"  But the meaning is the same. Sometimes I'd even get the honorary mention that said person's Grandma is even on Facebook! Reminding me that not only am I strange for not being on the book of faces but that Grandma is infinitely cooler than me because she is. 

So why not just cave and join facebook? First and foremost, I have always been a private person who keeps a small circle. Little, guys! We're talking a ring with a few close friendships and family members. People that I converse with regularly and share pictures with privately via text or email. For that reason, Facebook never made much sense to me. Secondly, I'm a little bit of a conspiracy theorist and spent my fair share of time in an industry whose sole purpose is to market to people and to drive consumption. Not needs based consumption - just mass consumption for the sake of consumption. In short, Facebook's algorithms and the way they're used kind of freak me out!

Alas, I have finally joined the rest of society in all their interconnected glory. For the sake of transparency, I would like to share that I did join, somewhat begrudgingly, as Facebook made me set up the personal account to set up a business page. Pssh. However, I am happy that I did. Here is what I found after trying FB for the first time at age 32.

1. I can increase the way I enjoy my existing relationships as well and widen my circle a bit.

I mentioned my circle consists mainly of a handful of close friends and family. The most gratifying piece of Facebook has been the ability to interact with cousins and relatives I wouldn't otherwise interact with regularly. Not only that, but there are conversations and interactions between family members that I was never able to be a part of before, that now I am. And that's an awesome feeling. I've also gotten to reconnect with some old friends that while we may not be close anymore, still hold a special place in my heart.

2. I have increased compassion toward others. 

I'll tell you what, after waiting so long, boy did I pick a heck of a time to join Facebook. An election year?! And this election, in particular, made my introduction to Facebook fascinating. What I noticed most, however, was how polarized one's feed could become. It's possible, especially if you are relying solely on Facebook for your news to believe that everyone thinks and feels the same way you do - to have your point of view be the only point of view you know. It helped me understand people a little better - and realize we need to be way more tolerant with each other. 

When I noticed someone go on a rant that momentarily had me fired up, I was able to bring myself back down. I would remind myself that this person might honestly not be exposed to other schools of thought or the reasons why I might feel opposite to them. The differing ideas and views make us think and often provide balance can sometimes be completely unavailable to us on Facebook.  I found I was able to apply this to the real world and be more compassionate toward people. 

3. I became more committed to my mindfulness practice.

Even though I went into using Facebook wanting to be aware of the way I used it, it was so easy to get sucked in. I can say, without a doubt, it became the biggest time suck of my day! Part of it was because, of all my other social media accounts, Facebook had the personal element. It was easy to get side tracked by goofy banter, and exciting things that family was posting. 

Guys, I lost an entire hour to Jack Fruit. Jack Fruit! I have a fellow foodie cousin who posted about Jack Fruit and the geek in me proceeded to find out most everything I could about it. On the upside, I can now carry a conversation about Jack Fruit's origins, recipes, and some local places to try it. But really, an hour of my day?! It became incredibly distracting for me, and I started to develop an aversion to just be. I began to instinctively reach for the phone if I was not actively engaged in something.  The more I noticed this, the more I began to dislike the feeling. 

I realized over the past months I had become less present in my daily life and was feeling more stressed and disconnected as a result. It made me want to re-establish and strengthen my focus on being as aware and engaged as possible with what is happening in and around me each moment. One of the most drastic measures I took toward this was removing my Facebook app off my phone and scheduling personal Facebook time separate from professional Facebook time. 

I am less than a week into my new Facebooking (yes, it was my New Years resolution) and I already feel less stressed and find I am happier throughout the day. My takeaway: I am glad I joined Facebook after so long. It's been a sweet treat to get a glimpse into the lives of people who I hold dear to me. It's also been impactful to see how much of a difference it makes to be present in our everyday lives. It did, however, create a negative element in my life.

Many of you out there may not be clear what I mean when I use the word "mindfulness" or phrase "being present." In short, it is the ability to be able to quiet the mind and just be. Even more specifically, to be able to train the mind to view sensations in the body or emotions in a constructive way. And the benefits are enormous! For one, mindfulness meditation practice is proven to reduce cell damage (which lengths your life) by increasing the caps at the end of our genes. It's also been shown to increase the immune system and helps to manage anxiety caused by overthinking. 

I encourage you to inspect your day. Where is the time suck? The distractions? Maybe it's not Facebook but another platform, or maybe it's something internal? Anxiety? Or discomfort in the body. What is keeping you from being fully engaged your life as it's happening around you? 

Take ownership of whatever it is and fix, or re-reschedule it and learn easy ways you can increase your daily mindfulness. I promise you'll watch your emotional and physical health flourish. If you're new to the idea of being present or mindful, fill out the form below, I'd love to chat with you about it and offer you some resourses that have helped me. At the very least I'll share a few Jack Fruit recipes with you. 

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