I Love the Smell of Facebook in the Morning … But I’m Giving it Up
OK, now you really think I’m nuts. Smell of Facebook? What’s that about? And why would you give up smelling (or reading, I guess that’s more accurate) Facebook in the morning?
If you are like me (and I know a lot of people are), you sleep with your phone not too far away. I confess I went through a period of having it under my pillow but I decided that wasn’t safe for various reasons, from low-intensity radiation near my brain all night to simple combustion. But it is definitely within reach when I wake up, so it can come with me as I start my day, staring bleary-eyed at the screen to see what the Gods of the Internet may have wrought during my enforced absence in the land of sleep. I probably look like that cute little guy in the picture.
This behaviour is a manifestation of the syndrome known as FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. It’s a form of social anxiety, of concern about not being completely up to date on all the wonderful things going on out there. It can lead to compulsive checking of social media, not just Facebook – I also have Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram on my phone, not to mention two different flavours of email. Any and all of them are happy to entice me with notifications, or if there are none, I’m likely to check and see whether somebody said something of interest anyway.
I have been doing this sort of thing ever since I got my smartphone, over two years ago. It is apparently pretty normal behaviour for an Internet addict like myself.
So why am I giving it up? Here are a few reasons, in reverse order of importance, why not?
1. It Interferes with Sleep
How many times have you stumbled to the bathroom in the early morning, answered the call, and fallen back into bed? That’s some extra precious sleep that your body probably needs, especially if you have bad habits related to going to bed too late. That’s a whole different blog post. Forcing your eyes to focus on a bright little screen, even with the brightness reduced (which I usually do at night), makes it much more likely you’ll stay awake, even if it is too early to get up.
2. It Interferes with Waking
OK, it’s finally time, I’m up. So what am I doing? Checking the damn phone AGAIN, even though I already looked at it an hour ago, and most of my friends are in the same hemisphere as me. Granted, somebody in Israel, Iceland or Australia might have posted something Earth-shattering in the interim, but chances are they did that overnight and I already saw it. Alternatively, if I see it an hour later, the Earth’s shatter factor will probably be the same. In the meantime, I’m moving like molasses, unless I determinedly put it down somewhere out of sight. Luckily I also turn off the sound at night, so it can’t entice me with pings and buzzes. Such a great example I’m setting for my kids, who really deserve my full attention while we are getting moving in the morning.
3. It Interferes with My Intention for the Day
This is the real reason I’ve decided to take this step, although the two mentioned above are important for my health and family as well. This has to do with my mental hygiene.
Especially in the past month or so, my feeds, all of them, from Twitter through Facebook to email, have been overwhelmed with the “situation”. I have a fairly eclectic group of friends, from diehard lefties to those slightly to the right of Attila the Hun, and many of them have not been shy about sharing their opinions, or even better, videos and inspirational quotes from all colours of the political spectrum. I try not to look at most of them, but even a few are usually enough to put me on edge and distract me from being the best I can be in the new day.
Obviously, I can’t detach altogether, with so many friends and family in the line of fire, and with so many moral dilemmas regarding action, overreaction, propaganda, skewed reporting, lies and bias in either direction and so on. However, I don’t have to let this stream of negativity set the tone for my day. That is what is happening when it is the first thing I see in the morning.
I grew up in Israel, where neurotic fixation on the news is a way of life. I remember Reshet Bet (the talk network) being on constantly in my mother’s kitchen. We literally walked out the door on the timing of the morning news, not the actual clock (if we didn’t make it to the train tracks by the time the news quoted the day’s editorials of Nasha Strana and Uj Kelet, we would be late for school).
But now, I don’t have to make the same choices. The bad news will find me soon enough – there will be time to read my feeds, to enjoy my friends’ stories, to decide whether and how much outrage is justified about something or other. But I don’t have to do that first thing in the morning.
Life is so much better when I am dealing with those things after I’ve eaten, exercised, showered, and dealt with the realities of my day. I can set my tone for the day without new fear, anger, disgust or grief piling on top of whatever is already there.
So here is my intention (and I trust you, my friends, to help me keep to it). I will no longer be reaching for my phone first thing in the morning. I will probably have to put it somewhere else for the night for a while, but that’s OK. If there’s an emergency, we have a land line, too.
If you are truly my friend, and you see me posting or emailing anything before 8 am CST, do me a favour and kick me. Hard. My sanity will thank you.