Hi, friend! Welcome and welcome back to the blog.
I deactivated on Facebook in mid-May. This was neither a quasi-experiment on how I will fare without something that has been a part of my life since 2009 nor a social media “fast”. This was simply an attempt to limit my exposure to triggering events.
You would think losing a platform that holds 13 years worth of memories and connections is going to be hard, but I have been deactivating my account every so often for an array of reasons. Deactivating and deleting are easy. The hard part is finally seeing how much control Facebook has on me… and that I allowed it.
That Facebook is harmful is not a novel idea. Numerous studies have demonstrated how the platform – and most social media with a similar design – is affecting its users wellbeing. Granted, some people can use social media in a healthy and productive matter. I am not one of them. I have a ton of mental health issues that are caused, influenced, and exacerbated by an addiction to social media.
Being a new mom is already difficult, and social media was not helping. With consistent exposure to people I compare myself to and to people who bring out the worst me, I became increasingly angry, discontented, and generally unhappy. I am not the mom that my child deserves.
So I quit Facebook for good. These are what I noticed happened:
I hate my body less.
I am one of the women whose body got destroyed by pregnancy. At ten months postpartum, I am ten kilograms above my pre-pregnancy weight. I found I got jealous of other moms who easily bounced back, moms who glowed, and moms who had time to take care of themselves. I also compared myself to my own pictures from my size 2 days that kept popping on my memories. I already have had body dysmorphia for many years now, and passively getting exposed to familiar people who were able to get fit increased my self-loathing.
Leaving Facebook did not magically make me lose weight or cure my body image issues. I am still 10 kilograms above the weight I’m comfortable in. But not getting exposed to people that I can compare myself to, I found that I am starting to get bothered less about my weight. I am still casually trying to shed some pounds, but I am not on a race with anyone anymore.
I became at peace with my milk supply.
Breastfeeding and pumping groups are a treasure trove for first time moms. But they can also be an abyss for those with insecurities, as you are consistently exposed to other moms’ “successes”. These groups are filled with inspiration and valuable information on galactogogues and silicone inserts, but also plagued by messages like “true low supply is a myth” and “just add one more pump”, making you feel as if you are not doing enough.
With my tendency to compare myself to other people, I just became more and more stressed and anxious. Possibly, my milk supply suffered because of it.
These groups never meant harm. They only wanted to be a community. But most of the time, I felt like a failure compared to other mothers whose breastfed babies are fat, whose freezer stashes overflowed, who never even have to think about supplementing. I felt judged and shamed for even thinking of feeding formula that I refused to give formula to Sprout… and now, at ten months, she’s just 8.4 kilograms. We’re now mixed feeding and so far we’re okay.
I stopped comparing my child to other babies.
My Sprout failed her hearing tests during the newborn screening, and when she turned four months and did not laugh yet, I cried and cried, thinking for sure she was deaf. After all, my Facebook friends’ babies around her age were already giggling a lot. Other babies were hitting their milestones in advance. They were also more plump. All of them also have teeth.
In reality, my ten-month-old is hitting her milestones just in time. We are yet to have her hearing checked at Philippine General Hospital, but as far as we know she can hear us. She laughs a lot, turns when we call her, jumps when she hears loud noise, knows her caregivers and cousins by name, imitates sounds, and dances when she hears music. She can even hum the Aaah part of “Yellow Brick Road”. She doesn’t gave teeth yet, but I now know I still have 8 months before I have to be concerned.
Without other babies to compare her to, I give my baby some slack.
I realize what we have is what we need.
We are not rich, but by no means are we poor. But when I was active on social media, I got jealous of younger people who earn twice, thrice, four times my salary. I got jealous of families who regularly go on vacations. I got jealous of parents who can buy their babies high end stuff. I got jealous of parents stay at home and homeschool their kids. And I got jealous of new moms who can afford therapy and pilates. The grass is always greener on the other side.
But once I cannot see the other side, I have realized that our baby has everything she needs. She is surrounded by people who love her. Some we bought ourselves, but most were given. She has a crib, a stroller, a rocker, a booster seat, a car seat, toys, and lots of clothes. We never missed her pediatric check-ups and vaccines. Her grandparents’ farm gives her fruits and vegetables. We can buy her lactose-free formula. We were also able to get her admitted to a private hospital when she got sick. We have a car to take her places when we want. We are actually doing well.
I have become more attentive to my child.
With my 8 to 5 office job, I only have about 4 to 5 hours to spend with Sprout on weekdays. When I was always on my phone, that was even less. Now that I’m only playing listenable YouTube videos, checking email, and typing ideas, I have so much free time. Whenever I’m with her when she is awake, I can give her my full attention instead of fighting the need to check my phone.
I rediscovered things I love doing.
Since quitting social media, I have been able to read novels and think of stories again. These are things I have been passionate about long before I first logged into Facebook in 2009. Admittedly, thirteen years is a long time and many things have changed. But there are things that are always there, just buried. I was too busy chasing the latest and coolest interests, hobbies, and lifestyles that I abandoned by “boring” passions.
I hate people less.
In this video, Verity Ritchie discussed the way social media is used to radicalize and fuel hate among unsuspecting users. This definitely happened to us in the recent years leading to the highly polarizing Philippine elections. The more I read my Facebook friends’ thoughts, the more I became annoyed and irritated at many of them, even if they had been nice to me all these years. Familiarity indeed breeds contempt.
To be honest, this is the strongest reason I quit. I hoped to stop being angry, and as long I read people’s thoughts, it’s impossible. You know what? It worked.
I only see things I actively seek.
I will never really understand the algorithm of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter but I know they expose me to posts I would not actively seek. Quitting social media gave me back the power to see only – sometimes, mostly – things I want.
Yes, this could be dangerous. I could be confining myself in a small bubble and becoming apathetic to everything else that is happening to the world. But I cannot handle so many things all at once. I have to protect my peace.
I realized I don’t need Facebook.
Of my two thousand Facebook friends, only one noticed that I am gone, and I have been gone for a month and a half before it was noticed. Truth is, I will not lose friends because I quit. I have always known that most of my “friends” on social media are not really friends – just connections. I am still friends with my real life friends even if I leave Facebook for good.
There was nothing worth not missing out on, too. There was almost nothing I needed to know, nothing that has to do with me that I cannot find outside of Facebook. I began thinking, maybe that infamous Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is an illusion, manufactured by Facebook so it would be hard to leave.
I had not logged in since I deactivated. The only reason I have not fully deleted my account is Messenger. I made another account for work-related stuff but I have zero friends there. My Instagram, TikTok and Twitter accounts are also permanently gone, and the only social media I have are this blog and YouTube. And I am better.
I am not saying I am better than other moms. I am not better because I am not on Facebook. I am simply better than that version of me who was addicted to social media. I have become a better mom for my child because I am a happier mom.
The only thing I regret is not doing it sooner.
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