Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Brad Vance’s Diary of a Smutketeer ☆ Episode Ten ☆ Includes Giveaway

Brad Vance Diary of a Smutketeer

Welcome to my world! Today our topic is “Facebook fasting!” I’ll talk about taking a step “off stage” for a while, and resigning from the Drama Department!

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Should you quit Facebook? Sometimes it feels like a good idea, right? There are days when every post feels like an incendiary device designed to make me blow my top. If it’s not yet another scandal in the M/M romance world lighting up your news feed, it’s another outrageous preacher blaming the gays for today’s horror-filled news story, or someone posting animal abuse, or an invitation to play some game you’ll never ever play (Farmville must burn! Burn it to the ground, I say!) or a sunglasses ad, or one of those “like and share this if you hate cancer and if you don’t share it you’re a terrible person” things.

Yeah, that can make quitting sound really good. I found myself taking some time off from Facebook recently, after the whole “Josh Lanyon” thing. I’d written a blog post about that, which I thought nobody would read (my usual blog traffic is in the double digits), and suddenly it was everywhere. And suddenly I had to know who was writing about what I wrote, and who else was weighing in on it, and what someone else said about that, and so on. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else – I had my phone when I was out and about, I had my tablet when I was on the couch, and I was like a crackhead, reaching for the pipe every five minutes for another hit. I couldn’t read a book, never mind write one. I was getting so angry when people said what I knew was wrong…I had to weigh in on that! They had to be told!

And at a certain point, I just…snapped. I realized…what the hell am I doing? I’m spending all my time and energy on…what? I realized I’d become that person I hated, the person who loves reality shows because they feast on the drama, the chaos, the upset. At least, I’d become that person temporarily. And there was only one thing to do about it. Just…stop using Facebook for a while. Just…stop. Tune out the whole carnival.

I had to think about the ramifications. Would I miss my friends? Would they miss me? What would I miss out on in their lives? And as a writer, I had to think about it as a business decision, too – would it even be possible as a writer to stop Facebooking without losing money on sales? And even if I did lose money (and I did), was it worth it anyway?

Well, the science is in on that, thanks to researchers at the Happiness Research Institute, which is of course located in Denmark, officially the “Happiest country on earth,” probably because they have free education and free health care and all that good stuff.

And the answer is yes, it is worth it. They ran a Facebook experiment (downloadable here) in which one group stopped using Facebook for a week, and the control group didn’t.

“At the end of the study, non-Facebook users reported lower levels of worry, sadness and loneliness than the control group who continued to use the website. While 84% of non-users claimed to enjoy life, only 75% of daily users admitted the same, and a quarter even described themselves as feeling lonely, compared to only 16% of non-users. Interestingly, Facebook users are 55% more likely to feel stressed, while non-users were 18% more likely to feel “present in the moment” while taking a break from the website.”

That need to “keep up” can get us all, just as Facebook intends – after all, their income comes from getting lots of people’s eyes on lots of ads, so keeping that level of anxious engagement at a high level is their business model. So it lets us tag each other, and notify us about tags, and notify us when someone comments on our post, or comments on our comment, to keep us coming back again and again. In Silicon Valley, they call this “stickiness” in an app, though if it was a slot machine, you’d call it “addiction.” And there are so many posts that incite upset, anger, indignation – political craziness, mostly, especially during a presidential election cycle. Which draws you back in to participate, to express solidarity or opposition, but to stay on Facebook, to keep scrolling and clicking.

I knew I “had a problem.” So how could I manage it? The first thing I felt I had to do was announce and apologize – to tell my FB friends that I was taking time off, that if I didn’t comment on their posts or tags it wasn’t because I didn’t care. It was just that I needed to get my head out of the blender for a while, calm down, think, prioritize.

And everyone was more than understanding, and forbearing. Yeah, I saw my income go down when I wasn’t out there pushing my name and my product, but it was worth it. It was hard work to quit, in the beginning – I realized that I reached for my tablet the way a smoker reaches for a pack of cigarettes, without thinking, in the middle of watching a movie, a ball game, while reading a book. This sudden urge would take me and I’d have to check my feed.

But then I moved my tablet and my phone onto my kitchen table, where I’d have to actually get up off the couch to use them, instead of just reaching blindly for the device. (Amazing how effective laziness can be in behavioral modification!) And, I moved the Facebook app off the front page of my phone and my tablet, to the third page, where I’d have to go find it, where that little red ball with the number of notifications I had was out of sight, and out of mind. Admittedly I was still logged into Facebook Messenger, though not “online” – I’m trying to run an editorial business, so I couldn’t be completely out of touch.

When I was done with my Facebook fast, after a week, I came back to the site with new eyes. I no longer had to weigh in on the latest outrage by The Donald, I didn’t have to participate in any frenzies. When a member of the M/M community turned out to be a catfisher, I was able to just…walk away! Not weigh in, not participate. Just…let it go. And it felt great!

Yes, there are times when we all turn to Facebook, as with the Paris shootings, to check on people we know, to register our anger and our fear. But there are times when we go to Facebook “because it’s there,” because we haven’t been there in five minutes, and what did I miss?

None of us want to leave Facebook. We don’t want to lose touch with our friends, or even miss out on the best cute animal pictures. But sometimes, you gotta get away from it all. Try it for a week…see how it works for you. I know I feel a lot better!

QUESTION: Have you taken a “Facebook Fast”? How did it go? Did you spend less time on FB when you came back?

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Connect with Brad Vance

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

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Giveaway

Each week, on our Wednesday Author Column posts we will gift a Kindle eBook from your TBR list to one lucky commenter answering the author question.

Please leave your email address with your comment so we can contact the lucky winner. You never know, it could be you!

Good Luck!

The winner is…..

** TAMMY **

CONGRATULATIONS!

27 comments:

  1. I do it all the time to keep myself sane. I will tune out during the day and check in for an hour at night. I usually share friends posts and keep it moving. For the entire month of August, I logged out of my personal account, traveled, and it was all worthwhile.

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  2. I have not taken a facebook fast although I would probably greatly benefit from doing so. It's how I follow my authors and I'm also an activist so it's really hard to step away. It consumes so much time though even when I don't mean for it to that I think one of my New Year's resolutions needs to be to at least cut back if not disconnect. (lorirenne@comcast.net)

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  3. I get too busy at times and don't get to it for a week or two. Once almost a month. I then spend ages catching up on friend requests and messages - not the historic posts so much. But it is the way I keep in contact with my father's family in England, old school friends and weather/traffic alerts.
    @HojuRose

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  5. I have taken unintentional breaks before. Like the previous commenter I get too busy to check. I do find myself getting angry about comments so it's probably a good idea I spend some time away.
    tkronenw1@gmail.com

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    1. Congratulations Tammy, you are our lucky winner of this months author column from Brad. An email is on its way to you.

      Delete
  6. i enjoy facebook and catching up with everyone plus it is where i find all my books
    jmarinich33@aol.com

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  7. I never joined Facebook, because the privacy issues seemed too complicated and risky. Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out, but generally I'm relieved!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com

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  8. I am not really on Facebook that much, so I have never purposefully taken a fast from it. But when I am traveling or super busy, I do sometimes "fast" from everything online.

    jen(dot)f(at)mac(dot)com

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  9. I have to admit I have a Facebook problem. Lately, due to a foot surgery it has become almost obsessive. I will be tring to take a break when I return to work next week and don't have access ti it! Keep your fingers crossed!!!
    blaine,leehall@yahoo.com

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  10. I'm not really into Facebook I can take it or leave it but it's really easy to look something up on Facebook and then 1/2 an hour of your time has disappeared!.

    ShirleyAnn(at)speakman40(dot)freeserve(dot)co(dot)uk

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  11. I'm not into Facebook. The only reason I got a page to begin with was because my friends kept contacting my daughter and she got tired of it and made a page for me!

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    1. ree.dee.2014 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  12. I admit I'm kind of addicted to the easiness to get info on work- or book-related topics through FB pages... I'm not so fond of the whole expose your life online thing. You can say I'm more of a FB-"voyeur" ;-)
    It feels easy though to let go when I'm too busy or vacationing, so I'm not really worried.

    foebz (at) hotmail (dot) com

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  13. I've never deliberately taken time off from Facebook. There may have been times when I wasn't on as much-like when we go away for vacation, but never totally off. But I also have two blogs, one of which is for book reviews and tours, and my post schedule is always packed...and I cross-post everything to FB so I need to be on for that anyway. But I don't let things get to me that I see on FB, I just shake my head and move on ;-)
    moonangel23 at gmail dot com

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  14. I only use facebook to communicate with my friends sometimes and to keep up with authors' news and that sort of thing. For the rest, I don't give much thought.
    serena91291@gmail.com

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  15. Facebook can be a drag and a downer and a time waster! I had to take a hiatus from Facebook for almost a year! There was way too much drama, food pics, politics, and just plain nonsense! Then I noticed Facebook was the only way to stay current with certain peps. So, after months of feeling left out, I started a new account using my mobile number and am just friends with specific people! In doing this, I only have to log onto Facebook a couple times a week so I don't miss anything! Congrats on your new release! snsvwtime@aol.com

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  16. I need the opposite. I hate being on facebook.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  17. I actually do it all the time. And when I do go back to it, at most I spend 20 minutes on it and then go back to a month of ignoring it... I'm not really on FB all that much at all anymore. There isn't a real reason I just never used it much to begin with... TUMBLR on the other hand...........

    arella3173_loveless@yahoo(dot)com

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  18. I don't do Facebook at all. I miss out on a few contests but I don't care enough to join FB.
    aelnova@aol.com

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  19. I have only ever taken a FB break when it was forced on me....either because I was in hospital or from an almost week long blackout from storms

    leetee2007(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  20. I actually barely use my FB. I don't really care to look at pictures and seeing what my family or friends are doing on an hour to hour/daily basis and if I do login to FB it's only to play Candy Crush Saga. I'm extremely paranoid about these type of things so it's not really hard to keep off it. I prefer picking up the phone and calling or texting.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

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  21. I havent done a fast but I think it is a good idea. It is too easy to get sucked into needing fb. I do use it alot for basketball and netball match organising but I dont do the 'memories from last year' type post.
    Think i'll schedule a fast soon

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  22. I am not into Facebook at all. It just seems like such a shambles - right across the board.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  23. I am one of the very few who refuse to "do" Facebook. I feel no desire to broadcast my personal life to the globe. I don't need people I haven't met in person as "friends". I resent the fact that so many things are now experienced through an electronic screen, to be posted somewhere online globally. I honestly don't get the fascination. Another peeve is that in order to view a Facebook page, you must create one for yourself. If Facebook is used as a form of advertisement, why do I need to publish my private, personal information for the world to see before I can view the page? Some of us enjoy privacy and living in anonymous peace; sadly, not enough of us.

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  24. My email in case I win...

    nick4422@verizon.net

    (And this email is only for contests and giveaways. I switch to my main account for following authors' blogs and newsletters. Again, privacy issues posting an email address for the globe to see).

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