Here's why: I got twitchy. Whenever I got to a tough place in my novel, I didn't get still and thoughtful, I went to Facebook, or posted something inane about my dogs or Cyndi Lauper on Twitter. I liked pictures of my friends' babies. I read gorgeous longform articles I never would have come across, had I not such interesting friends on Twitter.
But I knew I had to finish my novel draft, and my internet addiction wasn't serving me. I needed to be present in my life and in my writing. Really present. So I handed over my passwords to the Dogtor.
ME, pleading: Change them. Take Facebook away from me.
DOGTOR: Are you sure?
ME: I'm sure. And I'm probably going to try to talk you out of it tomorrow, but I don't want them back until the weekend. And then I'm only checking for twenty minutes.
DOGTOR: Twenty minutes, huh?
ME, resolute: Twenty minutes.
ME, five hours later: I really just need to log in for a second - there's an address I need in my message box...
I don't mean for my social media detox to sound the slightest bit righteous. It wasn't. It was desperate. I immediately missed my "internet friends" - who actually, after a few years, feel like real friends. A lot of them are, I think.
I became grossed out by muscle memory. I'd come to a hard place in the novel, and then - yes - I'd type the Facebook URL into my browser, then remember, feeling a pang of sadness for myself that I couldn't troll through my feed liking pictures of babies. Twitter was next. Pang. Work on book. Repeat.
There were some low points during my detox. One night I tried to hack into my Facebook account, guessing at what the Dogtor might come up with for a password (I failed). I realized I could Tweet pictures out even if I couldn't read my Twitter feed - which felt sort of like a yodel from the top of a lonely mountain: Here are pictures of my cookies! Here are the cats doing strange things!
On a particularly bad night, when I was sick and couldn't breathe, I got out of bed and because I couldn't log on to Facebook, I fell into a deep Internet rabbit hole. Over the course of the next few hours, I became an expert on vintage Pyrex and Jadeite, trolling Ebay for cute nesting bowls until my eyeballs hurt. (Oh, and vintage cake stands. See above. Isn't it beautiful? In the way a beat up 40s? 50s? cake transporter can be?) This didn't teach me the lesson it should have.
In other words, I'd really like some more jadeite dishes in my life.
But I finished a draft of the damn novel, so there's that, and now I'm back on social media, a little more aware of my habits, and only slightly more in control of them.