I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I read articles posted by people, I post articles I’ve read, I comment and respond to comments. It’s a source of news but also of thinking points.

However, since my recent spate of meltdowns, I’ve been rethinking my online engagement, specifically on Facebook. I got embroiled in a couple of comment threads that left me feeling upset. I decided that it was time to stop wasting emotional energy on these online discussions and cut back on Facebook. So for what feels like a (couple of?) weeks, I did not post anything and did not comment anywhere. However, I’m incapable of entirely detaching, so I did ‘like’ posts I find interesting. This is a tacit way of sharing them without inviting discussion with me further, or expecting further engagement.

I know I can’t attribute my better frame of mind entirely to this, but I think it helped. What I realise now is that Facebook is not just about active posting and commenting and the resulting positive or negative engagement, but also about energy wasted waiting for that engagement in the form of ‘likes’ or whatever. It’s not that I sit around gasping for the first like, far from it, but every time there is one you get a notification and then you react subliminally, much more so to a comment. This is the case even with the blog, but somehow, I find that – thanks to you, awesome readers – the blog discussions are more chilled out and I can detach more easily. Facebook ironically is more public because I have a range of people who actually know me and can directly impact my life on there, colleagues from work for example.

It has also made me realise that while I smart from people being snarky to me on Facebook, I can’t hand on heart say I’ve never done the same either. So when, and it’s a when not an if, I do get back into the game, I will be very careful to be scrupulously polite when commenting, even with friends. And also to cut down on commenting. This I have mixed feelings about because part of the joy of Facebook is being able to have discussions that one might not always have in “real” life with people interested in similar topics. On Facebook, if you don’t give, you don’t get. People who find Facebook boring rarely do anything on it beside lurk, and so possibly the algorithms don’t work in their favour. Nevertheless, starting a discussion means continuing one and I have to think about whether I have the energy for that. Maybe one a week, and one post a day?

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