Resolutions, Facebook and the comparing mind

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Normally, I poo-poo New Year’s resolutions.  I stopped doing it so long ago, I’m not even sure I ever made them at all. Consciously, I’m not a big fan of setting myself up for failure (unconsciously may be a different story).  When I’m ready to make a change, I simply do it.  Maybe it lasts. Maybe it doesn’t. My meditation regime has lasted. My swimming regime, well, not so much. Same with writing. I’m good for a while and then it fades. So, why if I pledged to do something starting on January 1 would it have any different outcome than something I pledged to start on, say, April 23?

This year, however, I’m feeling like maybe I do want to make a resolution or two. Why the change of heart? Maybe because last year I  got a taste for change. I got reintroduced to my body after decades of living exclusively in my head, and my meditation practice is now an integral part of my day.  It’s been good.

The other night I was reading Sharon Salzberg’s book LovingKindness and when I got to the chapter on generosity, it became very clear to me that being more generous with my time and my resources, was something I needed to do.  And being New Years was only a few days away, I thought that it would make a dandy and worthwhile resolution.  I don’t like that feeling of constriction I get when I’m holding to something for no good reason other than it’s mine.  Which is not to say I need to be foolhardy and give away all my stuff and energy, but I think I’m mindful enough to recognize that tightness that comes when I know I could give, but out of neurosis (selfishness, fear of not having enough, ill will) I simply don’t wanna. So, my practice for this year will be to recognize that constriction, and then make a concerted effort to open up – open up my heart, open up my hand, my wallet, my home, my refrigerator, whatever.

The other intention I have for the New Year is to spend less time on that blasted Facebook. It’s insidious, really. When I’m at my computer at home, I pretty much always have a window open with Facebook up. And even though I don’t really post all that  much, I still peek, almost compulsively at my newsfeed, as if I am expecting some breaking news like election results or updates on a natural disaster.  I really need to get a grip.

Like most of us, I joined Facebook with the hope of connecting easily with old friends – the kind of friends that you’re interested enough to hear what is happening with them, but not so close that you’d make the effort to see.  And it is always a kick when I first “friend” someone  I haven’t seen in eons. I check out their pictures, their info, take a gander at their wall.  It’s a quick and safe way to get a sense of who that person has become (or at the very least who they want people to believe they have become).  Maybe we’ll exchange a message or two expressing how tickled we are to be in touch.  But then after that, the connection is pretty tenuous and voyeuristic.

What I’ve been finding lately, is that my excursions onto Facebook are simply an excuse for my comparing mind to have a field day. Oh look, there’s someone who was such a hotshot in high school and now they’re just a suburban housewife. I’m much more interesting than she is.  And there is that guy whom I barely remember, he’s smart, successful, travels a lot. God, I’m a failure.  And why does that girl have so many friends? She’s such a phony. Yet everyone buys into her Super Mom routine.  Wow, and look at my former workmate, she looks amazing!  I look like crap.”  You get the drift, right?  It’s simply not healthy.

So, I’m going to try and find a middle way with Facebook. I don’t need to drop out all together, but I’m going to limit my time. I really wish there were a plug-in that would tally the number of minutes you’re on it.  I guess I’m just going to have to do that whole mindfulness thing and just recognize when I’m checking Facebook out of boredom or some other neurotic impulse.  Hmmmm. Mindfulness and Facebook. Somehow they don’t really belong in the same sentence, do they?

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7 responses »

  1. I’m feeling the same way about Twitter and Facebook. I wondering more and more about my motivation for being there. I’ve unfollowed a number of people on Twitter, and whittled down my “friends” on Facebook several months ago. I want my interactions on both sites to be beneficial or somehow positively entertaining. But it’s also important to me to guard my mind from the frivolousness of people I have no real connection to, or from being subjected to the false Dharma of false teachers.

  2. I’ve pretty much faded out of Facebook and Twitter except for auto posts when I blog (those go out via Networked Blogs and don’t require me to do anything once I signed up) with one exception: The stupid Bejeweled game. Ack!! I need to find a middle way when it comes to that. I compete with my brother so I blame it on him. (Not really. The blame part, I mean. I do compete with him in a fun way.)

    Sharon Salzberg’s book, Lovingkindness, is one of my favorites. Someone who generally lurks on my blog recommended it to me when my mother died. I am so glad he stepped forward with that recommendation. It helped me a lot through that grieving period.

  3. I was of course just being facetioius. And agree with your concluson that Facebook and mindfulness are incompatible. Am trying to post less myself. But it is a good way to keep in touch.

  4. Got a chuckle out of your Facebook resolutions, LB. I know several people who’ve also succumbed to the allure. I’m leery of how much time we can spend sucked into gadgetry already (especially all the people walking down the street staring into their palms, linked by the invisible umbilical of the mobile internet). So I’m not on Facebook — which means I get unexpected updates on old friends from my wife.

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