So Long Facebook. It's been Virtual.

Here are 10 Things I’ve found time to do since quitting Facebook. These were all things I could never seem to get to, before.

1. Plant all kinds of seeds with Wally. We are trying everything. Apple seeds, avocados…we even read you can grow carrot tops, so we’re trying that, too. So far nothing has started to sprout. That seems like a good lesson, too. You might put all this effort into something, but for whatever reason, it just won't grow.

2. Answer the Christmas/Hanukah cards that came with actual letters, or had a high-enough word count to be categorized as such.

3. Give away a bunch of writing books that have never inspired me, to make room on the shelf for the ones that do. Now I can easily pull them out at will without stacks crashing to the floor, and refer to certain sections, read an inspiring passage to myself, send a quote to a friend. Or just admire them sitting there sending out good writing vibrations.

4. Pull out tons of dusty old CDs we haven’t touched in years and begin sorting through them, getting rid of the ones we don’t need, and actually listening to the ones we like.
5. Go through the coins in Wally’s piggy bank with him. We thought it’d be nice for him to get the idea of saving up for 6 months or so and then see if he has enough money to buy a toy train. Since around the holidays Hein & Jiim gave him the C (8th avenue local!) and my parents gave him the E (to Queens!), the one he's been pining away for is the B train (to Brighton Beach--that September trip made quite an impression). So Alex actually picked up those little paper coin wrappers from the bank. I hadn't seen those since I was a kid. We emptied out the piggy bank, let the coins clang to the floor, sorted them into categories, talked about what each one was worth, counted them, rolled them up, then headed to the bank to trade them for dollar bills. Lots of mini-lessons in there about saving, counting, sorting, the dime being worth more than the nickel even though it’s smaller, etc. Then we kept walking, all the way to Grand Central, where Wally pored over the train collections like a kid in a candy store, only to finally settle on the B train in the end, the same one he’s been talking about for weeks and knew he was going to get before he walked in.

We also talked about how he should give some of "his" money to a child who doesn't have much. Alex felt I was getting too dark with some of that consciousness raising, and that maybe for now we should focus on giving to animals or tree planting or something a little lighter. So this will be really the important lesson--giving to others--but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Oh --also--you know what's really odd? The bank just trusts you as to how much is in each roll. I thought they'd have some kind of scale or at least check by length or something, for the quarters. Because initially I'd over-rolled the quarters by $2. Alex noticed when he joined us sorting. I thought you just kind of stuff as many in as you can, but obviously that doesn't make sense. But what's so odd is the teller at Chase (sorry, it was the only one we found open past 5 on the way to Grand Central) just clumped all the stuff together, counted out the bills, and handed them to us. It was bizarre. Small town honor system. I can't figure it out.

6. Okay this one’s kind of cliché, but…reconnecting with close friends who live far away. There were a few people with whom I’d played a rather low energy game of phone tag for the past 3 months or so. Finally, we were able to talk. Nice, long, meandering conversations. Just like the old days.

7. Spend two hours last night talking to Alex. Just talking. No TV, no phone, no email. I kept checking the clock in disbelief. It’s really only 9:30? What? We still have more time? Shouldn't one of us be getting really cranky by now and falling asleep in front of a screen of some kind? Usually the nights feel like they’re sucked away from me, as Rhonda wrote a few post’s back, time “sucked away against my will”. No, not yet. Still plenty of time.

8. Send off (to a publisher) a children's short story I'd written TWO YEARS AGO that had been laying dormant all the time.

9. Research places for Wally to donate his money and volunteer opportunities you can do with children. I found this fantastic site, lesson plans in "philanthropic education".  It's called Learning to Give.

10. Dance around the living room in the evening to Putamayo. After each song, I’m out of breath hoping for a break and Wally races over to the stereo, hangs onto the bureau, and says, “What song’s coming next?” When I do finally take a break, he does some kind of interpretative dance with some helium balloons his aunt Cris gave him for Valentine’s Day. They’re still flying high.

Also, this is gonna sound a little dumb, but I also made the decision to come home with Wally straight after school even though he's not napping lately at that time and it's beautiful and we should be outside and I can't believe you're inside, on such a nice day, blah blah blah. For a while I was pushing things...going to a playground straight after school or to the park or museum or something now that the clocks have changed and 2:30 feels so early. But it wasn't really working. Even though he doesn't need to nap, necessarily, he can't go from 5 hours of intense school and work--they really work those kids--straight to another area where he needs to exhibit so much self-control, like the playground. Now that he's older and, for the most part, extremely fair, he has to let younger kids grab, steal toys, throw sand, etc. all without flipping out. Younger kids do that stuff. So he has to accept it, but without a break, after such an intense day and no nap, asking him to accept it really calmly, when he's only like 10 months older than some of them to begin with, is really too much. 

He needs to time to decompress, too. 

And I can't directly trace this "healthy" decision-making to quitting Facebook, that would be as insane-sounding as me telling a friend that food tastes better since quitting, (I know, nuts, but really -- it does!!), but I can add to to one more way I've been able to quiet the voices clamoring for attention all around me, and listen to my own. (Why do mom-blog type entries always turn into these self-help affirmation type things? Like if someone wrote a review they'd talk about the writer "finding her own voice" and so on. Hmmm. Read "Snow Angels" by Stephanie Vaughn. Enjoy the beautiful day. Don't feel guilty if you spend a lot of it inside. You do what you can. You're finding your own voice. You're watering all your plants diligently. Sometimes they still won't grow.)

Afterthought (anticipating a round of rigorous questioning after this post from various dubious friends and family)

"I thought you said you were only on Facebook about 10 minutes a day?"

Answer: "I really thought that's all it was!"


  1. Yes that's exactly what I was going to say - exactly how long were you on Facebook??? Haha

  2. What's funny is I would still hold to about 10 minutes average a day...maybe 20 at most.

  3. You escaped just in time! Now I feel so cemented into Facebook, it's like I can't ever quit. However, it doesn't mean I have to visit so often. Certainly not daily. Certainly not multiple times a day. This post has given me a lot to think about.

    A while back I deleted the FB app from my phone, so I'm forced to access it through Safari if I want to scroll. The newsfeed via Safari is more redundant; it only allows you to see about 8 new posts before it just begins again with those same 8 posts. Facebook purposely creates an inferior experience on Safari in order to push the app. The evolution of Facebook seems to have reduced everyone and everything to a brand. Sound bites. Memes. Information junk food. Of course, after sifting through the garbage, I do find some information of value; an old friend's father's obituary I may not have otherwise seen, new essays posted by my favorite literary magazines, the fundraiser for my aunt with cancer.

    But mostly, it steals minutes that turn into hours over the course of the week. It's addictive. It causes brain fatigue. It robs us of the present moment.

    I love your list of things you've found time for since quitting Facebook. Inspiring, and such an important reminder. Thank you!

  4. Somehow I missed this comment last year. I came back to this post because I am trying to figure out when I got off FB exactly. I know it was 5 years ago. I didn't know that about the Safari experience vs. the app. I have (finally) started to realize that my interaction w/ social media in general is very different than many other people's because it is through a desktop with a massive screen while most are scrolling around on their phone.

    Totally true about how every has been reduced to a brand. Such a perfect, succinct way to describe it. I do find information of value through social media, and that seems to be the default reason people give for keeping track of various feeds. But what is bizarre is that we have the library, too. We have the Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, literary magazines, bookstores...a million ways to find valuable info/articles, etc. There seems to be something people are hooked on about info that comes from a friend- a recommendation - but not just in conversation. It has to be through a feed. It's valid if it comes in that package.

    I've noticed now - until recently - that Twitter was starting to steal those minutes from me - with all the worthwhile articles it pointed me toward, as if I didn't already have a list a mile long with worthwhile things I want to read. Like War and Peace for one!

    Thanks Sarah for this...


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