My advice to you is simple: give up Facebook, cable TV, and celebrity gossip. Here is how eliminating these vices from my life made me a much happier woman.
Facebook: Two key events lead up to my Facebook deactivation. 1) I realized I was checking Facebook wayyyyyy too frequently throughout the day. Not only was I wasting too much time on Facebook, I was spending a lot of time comparing my life to the lives of others. “Why does SHE get to travel all over the world?” “Not fair! HE got a new car!” and “Look at all of HER Facebook friends. Everyone loves her more than me” were irrational thoughts that constantly went through my mind when I was checking Facebook. Truly, the social networking site made me a more depressed, anxious, and jealous person. 2) People were going insane about a Facebook friendship, or lack thereof, instead of trying to cultivate an actual live friendship with me. For example, at my friend Lindsay’s wedding in May, one of the other bridesmaids took a picture of the two of us and then snapped, “Well, I would tag you on Facebook, but you won’t be my ‘friend.'” I’d only met the girl once before, we’d spoken less than 100 words to one another in our lives, and there she was, freaking out at a wedding about being Facebook friends with me.
I have two revelations to go along with those two events that lead to Facebook deactivation. 1) I was comparing my real life to people’s FAKE Facebook lives. Nothing about your Facebook life is real – it’s a manufactured, posed version of yourself that you put out for the world to see. 2) People collect friends on Facebook just to look cool. There’s nothing cool about having 3,000 friends on Facebook but 4 friends in real life. I also found that my actual friends manage to contact me despite being Facebookless. Now, I get more texts, emails, and phone calls, and being the social person that I am, these personal interactions make me happier than 16 straight hours of Facebooking ever could.
According to one study, “Facebook users ‘are insecure, narcissistic and have low self-esteem.'” I couldn’t agree more, because that’s exactly the person I was when I used Facebook, and I just don’t want that negative energy in my life anymore. I’ve been Facebook-free for three months now, and it’s one of the best decisions I made for myself and my mental health this year.
Cable television: I never had cable growing up. My family lived at the end of a dirt road winding through peanut fields and ending in a dozen or so acres of woods, so cable TV was not happening for us. This was not something I minded; in fact, I credit not having cable as being one of the driving forces of my creative, imaginative, artistic spirit. When I “grew up” and went off to college, cable was always around but was never a staple in my life until 2009.
I watched more TV from 2009 to 2010 than I ever will again for the rest of my life. The primary force behind my TV watching during that year was my part-time employment. Since I was so sad about being full-time jobless, I spent my time applying for jobs with the television on in the background. And I’m sad to say: I’ve seen more terrible Bravo TV than any human being should.
When my husband and I moved into our very first home this August, we didn’t get cable. When we want to watch an episode of Boardwalk Empire or Breaking Bad, we plan a little Netflix date, and the hour of TV is a treat instead of something we’re over-saturated with night after night.
Celebrity gossip: This falls under the category of “exchange” as opposed to “gave up,” if you want me to be honest about it. My rule is, if I spend 5 minutes on TMZ or Perez, I have to spend 5 minutes on NPR or another news website. This exchange helps me get out of the cult of celebrity.
The generation of women around me are obsessed with keeping up with the celebrities, and I mean that in two ways: keeping up with the facts and keeping up with the fashions. We know every single pretty detail of the Kim Kardashian wedding, we know all of Taylor Swift’s previous ex-boyfriends in chronological order, and we can tell you the tattoos on David Beckham’s body. I had to ask myself: where in the world was this knowledge taking me? Instead, I now pay attention to local, national, and world news, so the stories I’m paying attention to actually matter and make me a more logical person after reading/listening.
When it comes to keeping up with the fashions, it is very difficult for me to just stop. There’s always that new pair of shoes, that stunning watch, the new handbag and matching wallet… It never ends. And we, as a predominately middle class people, cannot keep up with the zajillionaire celebrity lifestyle. Only 1% of Americans are at that top, elite level, so the rest of us need to stop reaching for the same things they have, maxing out our credit cards, and declaring bankruptcy before we’re 40.
Could you eliminate Facebook, cable TV, and/or celebrity gossip from your life? What things have you given up to find peace and happiness?