Dig­i­tal detox? No, thanks!

Gin­gerly, he tried dis­con­nect­ing from his so­cial me­dia world. but, hurt­ing for some dig­i­tal love, he could barely wait 30 days to log back in. yes, he’s an ad­dict, and he doesn’t care.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By SHER­MAN TURNTINE

AT first, I thought I didn’t need Face­book. Boy, was I wrong. Af­ter some prod­ding and push­ing from fam­ily and friends to join, I signed over my life to the so­cial net­work giant in Fe­bru­ary of this year.

I con­sider my­self a peo­ple per­son, so I quickly made con­tact with my “peeps”, both near and far. I have to ad­mit, Face­book opened up a whole new world for me. I have been able to re­con­nect with child­hood friends from the 1960s, fam­ily mem­bers and a host of friends from my high school, Long Beach Poly, and Cal­i­for­nia Polytech­nic State Univer­sity.

Some peo­ple that I found through the net­work, I haven’t seen or talked to in 35 years. It’s like a re­union ev­ery day I sign on. I’ve had live chats with my col­lege jour­nal­ism in­struc­tor and men­tor, who is now re­tired and liv­ing on the Cen­tral Coast, and have been able to keep bet­ter in touch with my fam­ily, es­pe­cially those in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Face­book has brought us all closer to­gether.

But in a short pe­riod of time, I felt like my so­cial life was be­ing sucked up by Face­book. Morn­ing, noon and night I HAD to check in. It had be­come an ob­ses­sion. I needed a break. So one day in late Septem­ber while be­ing so­cial (four birth­day posts) in this dig­i­tal world, I de­cided to sign off and go cold turkey for 30 days.

Two hours later, I was re­gret­ting my de­ci­sion to post my plans. By the next morn­ing, I felt a pow­er­ful urge to sign in and re­nounce my pledge. My wife was no help, teas­ing me that I would never make it. She had seen me in ac­tion many nights in the den, one eye on the TV, the other on Face­book.

As my first full day without Face­book ended, I thought to my­self, 30 days is a long time not to be con­nected to this in­stant, dig­i­tal world.

You see, I had be­come used to check­ing in with my workout bud­dies on Face­book be­fore my daily ex­er­cise. It was like hav­ing a cup of joe be­fore head­ing to work. They of­fered sup­port and en­cour­age­ment.

I’ve never con­sid­ered my­self ad­dicted to any­thing, but this life without Face­book had me think­ing: Was I in­deed a “Face­book junkie”?

The big­gest draw of Face­book is the feel­ing of be­ing part of one big fam­ily. Now I felt lost and for­got­ten. So to fill the so­cial void, I texted and e-mailed fam­ily and friends to let them know I was still alive.

The texts and e-mails helped me cope. But it wasn’t the same as see­ing the fa­mil­iar dig­i­tal faces on a daily ba­sis. I didn’t want to seem des­per­ate for at­ten­tion, but I was hurt­ing for some dig­i­tal love.

But there was an up­side. I had more time to ex­er­cise, clean house and work in the garage. So for my wife, these were good times. She sat back and en­joyed the new me with more time on my hands.

This self-in­flicted ex­ile also taught me the im­por­tance of di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with fam­ily and friends. One day dur­ing the third week of my sab­bat­i­cal from Face­book, I again phone texted some “FB” friends. I even made a few phone calls. It felt good to hear their voices, know­ing I couldn’t see their pro­file faces on Face­book.

Still, there were many days I felt like I was miss­ing some­thing im­por­tant. My peeps share their ups and downs, joys and pains of life. I’m a big sup­porter of my fam­ily and friends, and I felt like I was let­ting them down by not be­ing “present” in this dig­i­tal world. Face­book gave me a line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but now the line was dis­con­nected on my end.

The lonely days turned into weeks. At the half­way mark, the urge to re­con­nect was build­ing. I was ready to call it quits.

I was in full “take me back” mode. Be­ing a dig­i­tal out­cast was tak­ing a toll on my ev­ery­day life. For ex­am­ple, I at­tended my cousin’s wed­ding one Satur­day af­ter­noon. It was a beau­ti­ful ser­vice with fam­ily and friends. Of course I took pho­tos, but un­der my noFace­book pledge, I couldn’t post them. What a bum­mer.

As the third week wore on, I started to count the days of my re­turn from dig­i­tal ex­ile. I could vi­su­alise the light at the end of the tun­nel, know­ing my “peeps” would be wait­ing with open arms on the other side.

On Day 27, I got so itchy I called up the Face­book app on my iPhone and just looked at it, long­ing for the time I could sign back on. My sign-on pass­word popped into my mind as I an­tic­i­pated the dig­i­tal love I would re­ceive upon my re­turn.

I won­dered: Do peo­ple re­ally miss me? I hoped so, be­cause I like to feel the love from my FB peeps.

My brother called me two days be­fore my re­lease to show me love. He was won­der­ing what hap­pened to me. He’s a big-wheeler, de­liv­er­ing food and other goods across the coun­try. So ev­ery now and then, he checks Face­book to get up­dates on me and other fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

On Day 30, I had a hard time keep­ing my emo­tions in check as evening ap­proached. The closed gates to my Face­book com­mu­nity would soon open and I’d be free to net­work once again. The morn­ing couldn’t come fast enough.

As you would guess, once my self­im­posed sen­tence was over, I jumped right back on Face­book and haven’t looked back. And my peeps were in­deed wait­ing for me to re­turn to the dig­i­tal fold. There were lots of no­ti­fi­ca­tions, friend re­quests and mes­sages on my page. Smil­ing faces and wel­come-back notes put a smile on my face. I em­braced the mo­ment to be back among friends in this ad­dic­tive dig­i­tal world.

Thank you Face­book. I’ll never do that again. I’m here to stay. – San Jose Mer­cury News/McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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