Mindful Facebooking

Many a writer has lost valuable creative time to social media, Facebook in particular.

To be clear, I don’t have an overall problem with social media. I love Facebook for the way it helps me keep in touch with my friends around the world. I’ve read wonderful, informative articles shared by my friends, including a piece from Slate about shepherding the Dalai Lama around a Santa Fe Ski resort.

Yes, Facebook does sometimes make me envious of other people’s (hand-cultivated) lives, but those are my issues to recognize and deal with.

The real problem with Facebook, IMO, came when I discovered I was using it mindlessly.
As I write, I tend to take small breaks in between chunks of productiveness to give my brain a breather. For example, I might write for 20 minutes, then pop away to look at something else/check my email/read an article. Then I’ll pop back and do another 20-30 minutes of work. It’s a little reminiscent of the Pomodoro technique, I guess.

The trouble was this: every time I got even a little bit stuck, my mouse was clicking “New Tab” and I was typing in Facebook.com before my brain could even really consciously register it. The worst part is that I wasn’t even interested in the content. Honestly, I was just killing time—and avoiding that uncomfortable moment of being “stuck” in my writing.

I came to this revelation during an open mediation session at Tibet House a few weeks ago.

Since then, my goal is this: allow myself to check Facebook 1-2 times a day— with the conscious intention of doing it. And as soon as I feel disengaged or bored, allow myself to move on, rather than continuing to scroll without thought. I think it’s helped me 1) be more productive during the daylight hours and 2) feel more connected to myself, instead of reinforcing a pattern of trying to replace discomfort (or boredom) with a quick hit of social media satisfaction.

It also made me wonder what else I was doing mindlessly. The answer? Weighing myself on my roommate’s scale. What earthly reason do I have to weigh myself three times a day—unless, of course, I’m writing a scientific paper on the science of weight fluctuation during a typical day. (I’m not.) My resolution going forward is once a week.

And I continue my mindful search for the things I do mindlessly. (Tinder, anyone?!?)

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