My (Facebook) name is Tova Muchness Gold and I’m an addict…

I read an article a bit ago about how the physical dopamine rush we get from social media mimics the rush people get from drugs.  It hit a little too close to home for me. That incessant need to grab my phone in any 15 second lull in my day was (is) creating so many negative side effects in my life, I get nervous when I sit down and really think about it. 

So I don’t sit down and think about it. Instead, I grab my phone and distract myself from my thoughts until the thoughts pass, washed away by the brainless thumbing of my algorithmed Facebook feed, perfectly named to reflect the way it fills my need to feed my dopamine-induced social media addiction. 

Recently, in a business building FB group of which I’m a member, the leader asked if any of us had questions we’d like them to answer on an upcoming episode of their weekly show. The group is for owners of product based businesses and is co-run by a seasoned, successful veteran of a product based business and her 20 year old protege who is building a remarkably successful product based business under her mentorship at the speed of light. 

I posed a question to the mentor- how did she build her multi-million dollar business while balancing young kids, marriage and all the responsibilities of adulthood. When I was 20 and building my first business, I was able to eat, breathe, sleep my business without worry or concern for other tiny humans or another adult… some days I forgot to even think about food and that was ok for me…  but as a married mom the general responsibilities of life limit my time and focus and makes everything more stressful and tasks take a million times longer than they would’ve in my “past life.” 

Almost as soon as I hit “post” on my question, I knew the question was, at least in part, a lie. 

I was burying my head in the sand to the reality I didn’t want to face. Yes, my family distracts me from my business tasks. Yes, everything takes longer than I know it could or should. But social media distracts me from my family. (That sentence makes me want to vomit) and shit takes longer because feeding my social media addiction makes it take longer. 

And I won’t lie – I do enjoy crafting a cleverly worded Facebook post and watching the “likes” pile in as I read and reread my perfectly cadenced selection of words, but it also kinda makes me hate myself. 

Not like, hate- hate. But the kinda hate you feel  when you binge on leftover Mac n cheese straight from the pot rather than put it away for the kids to eat later. It’s the kind of hate when you knowingly neglect what’s hard and important and instead do what’s easy and pointless. 

The kind of hate when you know you’re not reaching for your potential. When your minimizing your capabilities. When you’re accepting less from yourself than you know you should be. When you set a bad example to little impressionable eyes. When you throw yourself into a loop of negative self-talk. 

In high school my best friend was a real Negative Nancy. She would see everything around her- including herself- through a really negative lense and I think I was attracted to her because her negativity offered me space to apply my natural positivity. She’d complain about something and I’d offer a perspective shift. I’d feel good about myself and she’d feel less bad about herself. She’d start a fight about some superficial nonsense and I’d laugh at her decision to turn some mole hill into a mountain. I remember once she got soooo mad at me because she’d gotten mad at me and I didn’t remember what she’d gotten mad about, and I didn’t get mad back, nor remember what she was even mad about the following day. God that made her mad. 

Anyway, I remember a conversation we had where she asked me how it was I liked myself so much. Not -I don’t like to think- in an ego way, but just in a happy and comfortable in my own skin kind of way. I remember it because it had never occurred to me in that way before. That people could actually just not like themselves. I replied that I have to spend 24/7 with myself… I really better make sure I like the person I’m hanging out with or hanging out with myself would be a real drag. 

“But how do you DO that?” She asked

I said I look at people who have qualities I admire or think about the person I WANT to be and then do the stuff that that person would do. 

I remember thinking… “yup- that’s pretty much it.” She asked if that was hard and yeah, sometimes it is, and sometimes you fall short but you just keep coming back to that. Do the things that the person you want to be would do. 

And I think I’ve basically run most of my life that way. And it’s worked pretty well. 

But social media has changed that fact about me. Because when I first got into social media I was doing the things that the person I wanted to be would be doing. I was helping women find light after loss. I was healing from my own loss through the help and support of others. I was, I felt, offering a perspective shift and dose of positivity for people who felt trapped in some kind of darkness. And it filled that need in me, (similar to that which my old high school friend filled, I suppose) and I felt SO on purpose. 

But at some point, it stopped working for me.  But I stayed on it. After all, who are we in 2017 if not our social media presence? I mean, without Facebook, do I really even exist? Do my thoughts have less value if they only sit in my brain for me to ponder rather then get phrased in a cleverly cadenced assortment of words meant not to offer me self-reflection or personal insight but to entertain others or make them think I’m so naturally “quippy” and that all my random thoughts are so cleverly phrased and wrapped up in a sparkly bow? 

When did we start thinking in social media language? When did we start experiencing our “now” for only as long as it takes us to sum up that moment in two creatively crafted sentences designed to express our “now”, “now” being an obsolete moment in history by the time we press the “post” button?

Social media was a tool through which I Found My Muchness, starting way back in 2011, when grief and darkness were overshadowing me in an indescribable way. Social media was my healing salve. Relationships I built online were literally the foundation upon which I stood when I felt unable to stand on my own, the glue which held together so many of my broken pieces. 

But now I’m feeling broken in different ways. My inability to concentrate, my lack of time management, my general low-level constantly distracted mind… I am not the person that the person I want to be would accept for themselves. 

I need to Find My Muchness again. This time, in a reality free from the social media mental chaos. 

As I spend less time there I’m hoping to write more here. This is the first Real thing I’ve written in quite some time. The first thing written with my writing language, not my Facebook language.  I’ve missed it. 

But I’m gonna go back to thinking about who I wanna be and remember how to make choices that she’d make, so I can sit in the silence of my thoughts and enjoy my own company. 

Love & Muchness, Tova

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