How To: Break A Facebook/ (app of your choice) Addiction in ONE Easy Step.

You ready for it?

Go on a 9.5 month deployment! That’s all there is to breaking a Facebook addiction.

I can’t access Facebook anymore. There just isn’t enough bandwidth while we’re out to sea. I also don’t have a smartphone (there’s obviously no cell phone reception in the middle of the ocean). My deployment-imposed technology fast isn’t a bad experience in the least. After the first week, you stop reaching for your phone on the night stand as soon as you wake in the morning. After two weeks, you don’t even miss scrolling through your newsfeed on Facebook. By the end of the first month, you stop imagining all of the amazing inbox messages your ex-boyfriends are sending you to say how sorry they are and how you’re the one who got away. Really.

What I have found is that in those snatches of time between tasks or when I am avoiding writing or doing my real work, I have no consistent distraction to turn to anymore. I can’t check my newsfeed for the 200th time in 5 minutes and I can’t scroll through my TUMBLR or PINTEREST apps to find Something. Anything. Else. To. Do. A month ago, I probably wouldn’t have admitted that I was addicted to my smartphone. I would have told you instead how I never take my phone out at dinner and how I never play games because that’s such a waste of time and how I mostly just read books on my Kindle app. But that wasn’t the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I would have left out all the hours I spent aimlessly scrolling and link baiting through Facebook, how I couldn’t sleep at night until I scrolled through my entire tumblr feed twice and how I felt the compulsive need to comb through my junk email just in cases an important email had gotten lost there. I didn’t like this addiction that I had– mainly because I saw it in everyone around me and I didn’t want to be just like everyone else. I tried to be less of a technobot – less of a mindless consumer of technology. I tried to curb my connectivity obsession by keeping my phone on silent or vibrate so those enticing ringtones and pulses wouldn’t draw my attention, but that only heightened the need to check my phone every 2 minutes. Even while I was driving.

After two or three hours of scrolling indiscriminately and, often, mindlessly, I would feel bloated and unsatisfied, like I’d eaten a couple of bags of cotton candy and no real food all day. Or like I feel after spending a gloriously sunny Saturday on the couch watching a Law & Order SVU marathon, promising myself this is the last one after the ending credits, only to hear the easily identifiable don don theme of a new episode. I’d finally put down my phone and head off to do something else only there was this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that went with me. A slight tug at my heart that kept suggesting that maybe something wasn’t quite right.

There’s nothing like a deployment to confront all manner of bad habitry. I am suddenly confronted – haunted even — by time. I have the same 24 hours, but fewer distractions, which makes me hyper aware of time passing. I make transactions out of my hours, constantly reassessing how I’m spending it, who I am giving it to, how many hours remain in my day. Time is finite, the tank is always emptying. There is no way to increase the balance of our days. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I am turning 34 next month, or the fact that the smallest noise is magnified in silence, but everything in me keeps shouting: pay attention; you only get this one time around.

Though there are things that I miss about being constantly connected, I’m glad to see the balance of my life tip more towards the timekeeper than the timewaster scale. How we spend our days matters. Maybe it took some time away for me to realize that. Some days you’ve got to just unplug and reengage with life, enter in to the day to day struggle with boredom and monotony. Make every hour a sacred event – because that’s what it is. Make every second count (even the ones where you’re watching Downton Abbey or a Law & Order: SVU marathon). In the words the Psalmist (92:12): So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Just remember: you only get one time around.

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