I have always turned to technology to fill gaps in my day, procrastinate from things I need to do, and withdraw from the world.
During my degree, pre home internet and social media, Solitaire, the card game, was my go to whenever my assignments got difficult or boring. At a time of my life when I was starting to feel the pain of unrequited love and a fairly repetitive social life, the Queens of the Stone Age fan forum opened my world and provided me with endless distraction. And myspace entered my life when I needed relief from the pain of bereavement, and sucked me into the start of a love/hate relationship with social media.
Over the years, I have become increasingly aware of a growing addiction to social media growing in me. I always had the addiction, but as a long term maven of denial of addiction, it took a long time for me to realise. It is no surprise to me that news is emerging that social media companies have been actively working to create addiction to their products, isn’t this the nature of consumerism itself?
As sobriety became my life after 20 years of addiction, I found myself looking at my social media use in a different light. My son, who was 6 in 2016, often complained about my time on Facebook, so one day, in a moment of extreme maternal guilt, I promised him I wouldn’t use Facebook for one whole month. I wrote my commitment out, signed and dated it, and put it on the fridge.
The month started and, after a few weird days in which I didn’t quite know what to do with my hands or brain, I started to really enjoy it. I was more present in life, I found that I stopped thinking of my days in status updates, and I enjoyed my life, and the life of the people I was with in person, rather than getting involved in the lives of people I only connect with through my broadband connection.
As the month progressed, I was getting increasingly excited about my forthcoming trip to New Delhi, where I was going to be a speaker at the Women Economic Forum, to share my insights about beating addiction, and achieving wellbeing through Yoga. I connected beforehand with several of the other speakers, including Pat Duckworth, a hypnotherapist who was a panel speaker on the addiction talk with me. We had a Skype call, and shared a fun conversation, eagerly looking forward to meeting in person.
Pat told me that she had written a book which she was launching at the conference. I expressed my frustration that I had not yet managed to write a book, despite joining in a 1000 words a day challenge the previous month. Pat asked my how much I had written, at that point it was about 17000 words, and she said ‘Well, you’ve got time to finish it haven’t you?’
The gauntlet thrown down, I contacted an editor friend, Lisa Barry, and asked if she would be able to help me in my lunatic mission to turn 17000 words of unfiltered stream of consciousness writing into a publishable book. Being as nuts as me, she agreed, and I got to work.
In the course of one week I stripped away most of the words I had already written, teased out a narrative structure and turned that writing, plus some blog posts, into a presentable book. Thanks to Lisa’s support, it was ready to go to a publisher within a fortnight, and about 5 weeks after the initial challenge was set, I had a book ready for publication.
My book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, was launched on the first day of the Women Economic Forum in May 2016 on Kindle. I republished it on the 2nd anniversary of quitting alcohol under my own publisher account in paperback as well. A lifetime dream to be a writer, and a massive exercise in personal growth, fully realised.
I had to crack my Facebook addiction in order to be able to write that book! I know that had I been on Facebook during that month, the book would not have been written in such a short space of time, if at all. In the moments when it got hard, instead of going for a walk then coming back re-energised, I would have numbed out on Facebook, procrastinated wildly, and that book which took a fortnight between me and Lisa to turn into a publishable book would have taken months.
I only returned very reluctantly because the publisher told me that I had to in order to promote the book. I resisted but had to concede that he was right!
I long to break free of Facebook again. People tell me I shouldn’t now, because so much of my business activities take place there, but I sometimes wonder — if I can write a book without Facebook around to distract me, what else could be possible for me? It has to be possible to be a success without Facebook mustn’t it? Until I work out how to run a business without worrying about FB traffic and interaction, I am trying to make sure that I minimise it’s addictive quality and spend quality time away from it regularly.
I highly recommend taking a break from Facebook. It really does enable you to live a live worth sharing!
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com