I have been away from Facebook for one week and one day. I deactivated my account after feeling intense stress that was growing increasingly harder to cope with. Being the mother of three young daughters and also having chosen to homeschool them, it isn't a sustainable state of being - stress. Sure, some stress is productive, even motivating. However, when stress grows into huge to-do lists and obligations which create the constant feeling of being behind despite running at full speed, stress becomes a disease.
For me, Facebook contributed quite a bit to the stress I was feeling, or so I have learned this week. It added to my feelings of continuous multitasking and never-ending to-do list. Getting so much information in tiny tidbits, being readily available for time consuming favors of various sorts, receiving more information than you wanted to receive about people you rarely or never see in real life, and keeping up with posts and driving momentum behind project pages and business pages, is simply exhausting. My question is still - what does this activity contribute to the overall well being of me, my family, and my service to my community?
I have noticed this past week a greater ability to be available with full attention to my children. Tantrums seem less dramatic, or I can actually thwart fussiness by noticing the needs of the rhythm my children crave within our day. I am reading more. I am being inspired with more ideas for blog posts and other writing. Time for deep breathing is there. My housework doesn't seem so menial. The stress of a homeschooling, work from home, mother of three is not going to go away, but this week away from social media has helped me to be able to deal with it more gracefully.
Yet, I along with three other local women have begun a non-profit (East Kentucky Women's Care Collective) to fill in some of the gaps in women's reproductive healthcare that we are seeing in our region with a focus on pregnancy and birth (for now). In a matter of a few weeks, using Facebook, we gained over 500 "likes" and have raised $1,000 toward filing for a 501c(3) status. I have been the primary poster to our Facebook page. I wonder how my break and potentially not returning to social media will affect our ability to promote the services of EKWCC and raise the money we need to operate.
I also worry about missing out on opportunities for my girls to meet with their friends and attend educational workshops and field trips. I have noticed increasingly that camps, co-ops, and activities are solely promoted using Facebook. I am still in contact with those who value my friendship, and with some even more than when I chatted with them on Facebook. If I am not there, what do we miss, and does it matter?
Balance. Where is it in this issue? I'm not totally convinced that there is enough benefit to being active in Facebook to warrant my return. There is peace in receiving information in full, well thought out chunks. There is a feeling of worth when someone seeks you out specifically by using your email, text, or phone. It is a relief to be able to be fully present in the moment and not feeling anxious that there is something or someone needing your cyber attention.
How do those of us who did not grow up with internet access and instant interaction without all the subtleties of in person graces cope with the ever growing influence one company has over the lives of us and all our friends? In refusing to participate, are we also turning our back on our ability to affect change through our work and activism? Does it matter if it means that our work of mothering is improved? Does it matter if we are feeling the spark of creativity shining brighter? There is some element of bravery involved in just taking a break from social media. I wonder what sort of courageousness is needed to decline involvement altogether. Or, is it actually an act of cowardice? A refusal to make it work. If it could just be easy, but is change ever easy?
To learn more about our efforts with EKWCC visit our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/ekwcc. A website is in the works.
To donate to EKWCC - www.youcaring.com/ekwccnow
Tax exempt donations are available through our fiscal sponsor upon request.
Watch the videos below to see what inspires these efforts.
Kelli Hansel Haywood is the mother of three daughters living in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. She is a writer, weightlifter, yoga and movement instructor, chakra reader, and Reiki practitioner.