My week without Facebook and Instagram:

my week without facebook and instagram
Alyson Howard Hoag at Authentic Beauty in Atlanta

A week ago Friday, I was in New York having a lovely time out with my brother and my cousin enjoying some family time. In the midst of our shenanigans, I happened to look down at my phone and my emails and noticed several alerts from Facebook letting me know someone was trying to access my account. As soon as I pressed the “this was not me” button,  I received another notice that my email and password had been changed, and I was suddenly locked out of my Facebook and Instagram accounts. About 5 minutes after that, when I tried to login again, I was then informed that my account went against community standards for posting pictures and who knows what other content that I did not authorize, let alone write or post. 

At that moment, I couldn’t even think or fathom who would do such a thing? This was a test of my ability to let go of the things I cannot control or change in the moment. There was absolutely nothing I could do so I had a choice to either freak out and lose the precious time I had with my family, or be in the moment and know I would deal with it later and that any way it turned out I would be able to handle it and not lose it.

I am lucky that in my network I have a few clients who work for Facebook. Knowing that I had a person who could let me know if it was possible to regain access to my account did allow me to at least feel like I had a chance of getting them back because the last thing I need just as I am about to launch Genuist Beauty is to lose my Instagram and Facebook accounts. Instead of losing it, I asked myself how could I turn this into a positive? Fortunately, I came up with a few answers and had the mental discipline to let it go.

I have been on Facebook for 16 years now. I signed up at a time when we still had My Space and back then  I thought it was a funny thing to post “updates”. We didn’t really have camera phones and you would have to upload a picture from a computer. Those early posts are funny, yet over time, I have fallen in love with Facebook and social media. Although it definitely has its problems, I have spent years curating a beautiful feed. I have over 5k friends and I know nearly all of them. I have been so fortunate to fill my life full of wonderful humans. I have traveled and moved and networked and been able to find so many of my friends from my childhood I thought I had lost when I left home through these social accounts. (In the old days, we had land lines and no email and when you left home and your friends left home you would have to call the parents and a lot of times those  numbers would be disconnected and there was no way to find anyone other than through the phonebook.) 

As I was processing through the ramifications of being hacked, I also realized I didn’t have contact info for most of my friends. I also had messages from people I couldn’t continue conversations with because I didn’t have their phone numbers. I run a few Facebook groups and luckily they weren’t shut down but when you searched for me and my account? It said “user not found”. I suddenly felt so disconnected from my people, and I had no idea how to contact half the people I am in groups with either. 

I also felt really sad. I spend most of my in between time, while I am eating or on a short break, looking on social. I personally love to see what my tribe is up to. I love to see the babies.  I love to see the puppies.  I love to see the successes, celebrations, and adventures of my friends. I love seeing their lives and the ways they are curating authenticity into it. My feed is full of optimism and memes that are encouraging. I see art from my favorite artists. I see experiences I want to experience and I see places I want to travel to with people I love traveling with.  My feed also reminds me that I am connected to something larger than myself. 

Finding the Positive in a Negative:

But I didn’t quite realize how much time I was spending scrolling. A week with no social media allowed me to focus. I didn’t even pick up my phone because I wasn’t getting into my accounts and it was wild. Turns out this incredibly negative experience where I was locked out also showed me that I was a lot more focused and centered on my social media break. Because I am connected to so many people, I always feel like I am missing something so I am constantly scrolling. Can we say FOMO? Seriously though, I don’t want to miss the birthday or the trip or the birth or even the death. I love being a part of it all. But I have also come to realize that I need to be disciplined about being on social media and I need to schedule time for it and not just do it the random 5 minutes here and there. 

Our Minutes Matter: 

There is a whole world out there and I had slightly forgotten about the “gap moments” because I was filling it with moments in the virtual world. Both are important to me. I feel connected to you and the world through social media, but there is a world that is all around you and me too. The trees, the wind, the people, the sounds and smells of the every day. I rediscovered the power of those moments. As a result? I was present.

The Gift of Being Present:

After a week and change,  I finally got back into my account and I was shocked to find that someone was maliciously posting hateful content on my wall, including multiple posts that looked like terrorist propganda. It is in moments like these we are reminded of how much hate there is in the world, yet I was grateful for Facebook’s safeguards that were in place. Back online, it felt great to be reconnected and this time, with some of my own safeguards in place, I made the decision that I am just going to be a little more deliberate with my “scrolling and posting time” and more deliberate about being present during the day. Lastly,  I made the decision that I will not be checking my phone every time I get a notification because wherever I am? I am going to be all there. 

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