I think it happens to everyone at some point in their lives. You get into a routine that is unhealthy. Whether it be physically, spiritually or mentally you know it’s not good for you and it’s bringing you down, but you do it anyways.
I think a good place to start changing some of these bad habits are with your mornings.
One of the things I did to vastly improve my mornings and overall quality of life is substituting listening to music for Facebook and TV in the mornings.
Wow, what a difference in my mood and overall well-being. I’m working on an article about this called “Morning Vinyl” which should be up soon. [UPDATE, Its up now] Read “Morning Vinyl”
You could easily apply this to any part of your day, but first let me tell you a bit about what I did with my mornings up until fairly recently.
The Old Bad
Rewind a few years (lets say about 7), I had just turned 40. I was about 50 lbs. overweight and I liked to start my mornings off with coffee and cigarettes. No breakfast and certainly no exercise back then. Not good. I did this routine for years before I eventually quit smoking about 6 years ago.
I always liked to fool around on the internet. Back then I had my guitar and music based blog and like most people I would get on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and just kill an hour or two, sometimes even more. I seemed to be spending a lot more time arguing with friends and strangers while also looking at peoples cat pictures on Facebook rather than doing anything productive on my own websites.
The cute cat pics are fine but the arguing, not so much.
The New Ok
A few years down the road I managed to kick the smoking habit, moving to a vape and add some exercise into my day.
I started doing Yoga, the treadmill, walking, some light weights, etc. This all seemed well and good but I was still wasting so much of my morning fooling around on Facebook. To make matters worse I got in the habit of putting the news on in the background.
“So now, not only am I wasting time on Facebook, I’m getting angry and depressed from the constant stream of negativity filling my brain in the background.”
Actually I’m getting pummeled by negativity in two directions… the constant arguing and negativity on Facebook and the news on in the background. This was compounded during the 2016 Presidential race.
Suddenly in 2016 everyone had taken sides. Everyone was arguing. While I’m arguing on Facebook I’m listening to people argue on TV about basically the same stuff. On Facebook though, it seemed worse.
I really wish I could be more like my wife Celeste. She is absolutely without a doubt the BEST Facebooker. She never posts anything negative and never trolls or argues on other peoples posts. She really has a gift for ignoring the poison on the internet. She’s not stupid, she knows its there, she just doesn’t engage. I love that.
Whatever it is that Celeste has, I just don’t have it. I feel the need to argue when its something I’m passionate about. From what I’m seeing daily in my feed. I am not alone.
One huge thing I noticed though:
“Being right never makes me feel better.”
The People We Argue With
That kid you were in 5th grade class with whom you haven’t even thought about in 30 years… oh yeah.. HE’S a racist. Let’s argue with him for a bit while people are still arguing on TV.
Co-workers, people you think you’ve known your whole lives, people you’ve only met once but are “facebook friends”, and the rest of them. Seemingly everyone went nuts in 2016.
Then there are the family members. The distant cousin you barely know is sharing a meme every 10 minutes that not only goes against every belief you hold sacred, but is full of false statements, misinformation and (GULP)….Fake News. It’s a real thing, although I don’t think its coming from the sources most people think it is. It’s coming from people.
People we know, and it scares the hell out of me sometimes.
Oh no, my Father/Mother/Brother/Sister is a Trump supporter and they just called my niece a Libtard on her page. Yikes. I guess Thanksgiving dinner is going to be a little awkward this year.
Uncle Joe just shared a post proving finally, and without a doubt, that Obama was in fact born in Kenya and a practicing Muslim out to destroy America. Oh, and Michelle Obama is a man.
Who knew? He just tagged all 678 of his friends in the post, including you. Thanks Uncle Joe (sigh).
On the other side of the proverbial aisle, the left-leaning folks among us will tell you EVERY SINGLE DAY why you are wrong and they are right. Everything that comes from the right is racist, misogynistic, fascist and going to set the country back 75 years. OK.
“While I see both sides as equally annoying on social media and in the news, one thing is for certain… you’re not going to change anyone’s mind on Facebook”.
In fact, many polls and studies show that you are only strengthening the base of the opposing party. You’re driving them passionately to the polls and fueling the anger that drives them do it more and more creating a cycle of constant negativity in your news feed.
Now they’re going to do it to spite you and start an argument with you. Either that, or you’ll be deleted and in extreme cases blocked.
Blocked by friends and family with whom up until 2016, you’ve had a basically normal and cordial relationship with. Why does this happen? Why do we allow it to happen? What is the long term damage and can it be reversed?
Time will tell I suppose.
So What Can You Do?
Option 1) Unfollow
One thing you can do to cut down on the negativity may seem a bit obvious… but unfollowing these people really is effective. It’s the least aggressive action you can take and after a while you won’t even miss the Facebook offender. You can also still see their posts should they comment on your page or a friends.
Option 2) Unfriend
Unfriending the violator is typically something I reserve for two types of people. It’s a bit less passive and they will eventually notice you’ve done it, so keep that in mind if it is someone you see in person often.
These people typically fall into two categories:
1) Someone I don’t know in “real life”.
2) Someone I never liked to begin with.
Option 3) Blocking
Blocking a person basically removes them from your Facebook altogether. It’s the extreme solution. They can’t see you and you can’t see them… even if you search for them by name.
If you have mutual friends with someone you’ve blocked (or blocked you) and you are both commenting on the same thread you can’t even see each other’s posts.
Group 1) People you don’t know in “Real Life”:
As a working Musician I get a ton of requests from strangers. People from all over the country. I generally accept them after a quick glance at their page to make sure its a real profile, and doesn’t contain daily posts containing political and/or hate speech stuff.
…and there are lots of fake profiles out there. Guys you know what I mean. The super hot 22 year old girl who signed up for Facebook just 3 weeks ago and only has 5 pictures… all of which are semi-nude selfies. She’s single and she’s looking for fun with a guy just like YOU. Yeah right.
If after a while these people, whom you don’t really even know to begin with, are constantly filling your feed with negativity, its best to just unfriend them. You won’t miss them, they won’t miss you, and there’s no harm done. All future negative confrontations avoided and your feed is that much less cluttered.
“In extreme cases I suppose the blocking option is ok. It just seems a little too permanent for me but I understand why someone people have taken this option”.
Group 2) People you never liked to begin with.
The second group can be a little trickier. Again, as a musician I’m friends (on Facebook) with a lot of people I may not be fond of but could perhaps be part of the local scene or my social circle.
Maybe it’s someone you see out at a bar or a friend of a friend.. those types. If you delete them they’ll notice and they may even tell that mutual friend you did it. Oh the horror!
It seems so silly I can’t even believe I wrote that (much less this whole article) but you know what I’m talking about and you know that its true. Sad and true. This is a REAL thing and its happening every single day to us all!
Regardless, I still think its just better for everyone to just do it. Maybe they’ll re-evaluate their online behavior and possibly even ask you why you did it. Or… more likely they don’t care, will continue the annoying posts and you’ll be glad to be rid of them.
Another Problem :
There is one other group of people I haven’t mentioned that may not necessarily fall into the above categories:
People that you like/love MORE than you hate their posts.
Does that make sense? It could also be worded as:
People you like or love MORE than you hate their POLITICS.
The latter certainly is more applicable to my feed following the 2016 elections.
My Friend “Dave” (name changed to protect the guilty):
I love my friend Dave. Hes a great musician and a person I respect and admire. I know he would do anything for me. He is a loyal friend without question. He’s a great father and always fun to be around.
His political posts make me want to projectile vomit onto my screen.
We are so at odds, so completely opposite sides of the political spectrum that its frightening. I even wonder how it is I became such good friends with this person now knowing that we are so at odds on just about everything pertaining to politics and social issues.
I used to engage him on Facebook. Guess what? I didn’t change his mind. Not one bit. All I did was waste a lot of time arguing with someone I genuinely care for on a topic I had already decided would never affect our friendship anyways.
Worse yet, now I’m in an argument with 36 other people on his page who feel the need to chime in with their opinions. Some agree with me and some agree with him.. doesn’t matter. It’s ALL POISON.
I find myself checking the thread throughout my day, maybe even over the course of a few days, to see who replies and who else I can get into it with.
What was the point? What did it accomplish?
Nothing. All of it just wasted time.
The bottom line is, I just don’t want to delete these people. Maybe its a really good friend or close family member. A co-worker who you get along with great at the office. A neighbor who keeps an eye on your house or feeds your cat when you’re out of town. These people are sometimes just plain worth keeping on Facebook if you like or love them in real life.
I’ve changed it up by ignoring Dave’s political posts and really making an effort to be positive on his other stuff. I liked pictures of his kids at graduation. I left a positive comment on a live video of his band (even if it was horrible). I tagged him in something funny that was not political or polarizing in any way. ..and you know what happened?
I FELT BETTER.
I bet he felt better too. “Who wants to argue with people they love anyways? No sane person right?”
I think this is particularly effective with family members who, lets face it, you just can’t always afford to alienate or avoid.
I started applying this to all of those people whom I liked more than I hated their posts. Sure I will occasionally still unfollow some people but the ones I genuinely like get this positive-post treatment now. I’m so much happier for doing it. I am betting that you will be too.
Nowadays I’m posting, trolling and commenting less and writing a lot more positive content (like this?). In fact at 10:47 PM I still haven’t even checked my Facebook today! Progress.
I’ve also completely changed up my morning routine by replacing Facebook and TV with listening to music. The concepts of which can be applied to any part of your day.
Check out my Morning Vinyl article that was just posted. This is what I did to completely revamp my morning routine and upgrade my quality of life.
I’d love to hear your facebook funny and/or horror stories and how you’ve turned it around. Please feel free to comment below.
Craig Smith is a professional Guitarist, Teacher, and Writer living in Sanford, Florida. Craig has taught guitar lessons, performed 200+ gigs per year for nearly 30 years, and published 4 guitar instructional books. When he’s not gigging or writing, you may find him by the pool with his wife Celeste, 4 Chihuahuas, and a drink. 🎸