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I love the feeling I get when I’m on a plane chit-chatting with the person next to me. The time flies by (no pun intended) while you get to know your neighbor, and as you depart, you trade Facebook info and keep in touch, only to meet up a year later in some random city in Europe. I have Facebook to thank for dozens of these experiences. It is so great to keep in contact with the beautiful, interesting, inspiring and lovely people I've met all over the world on this journey of life.
But one of these people left a huge impression on me by convincing me to do just the opposite – try a full-fledged detox from Facebook.
That might sound counterintuitive for a consummate traveller like me. After all, Facebook is a great way to update the folks at home about my current adventures, let old friends know I’m stopping by, and get the skinny on the new people I’ve met, right? Why decide to detox from Facebook during the craziest year of my life, when I was never in the same city for more than a week or so?
Well, my inspirational friend, a successful entrepreneur with a booming construction company, was impossible to find on social media or anywhere on the internet. After he convinced me he's never changed his name and doesn’t secretly work for the government, he explained that he not being connected helped him grow spiritually as an individual. My initial reaction was, “What? Why?” but I decided to give it a go, stop checking in hourly and attempt to take a Facebook break for an entire year.
A year later, here's what I learned. I now strongly believe a Facebook detox is a spiritually powerful idea that can benefit anyone:
1. When you're on Facebook 24/7 (like checking your phone when you're with other people), you aren’t living in the present, focusing fully and savoring the experience that's right in front of you. Instead, your attention is scattered. You're constantly seeking, searching and checking what’s going on in the world with everyone else – not being part of the moment you’re in.
2. Facebook is a great excuse not to look inside yourself and make your own decisions about what truly will make you happy. Last year I mentioned on Facebook that I might go to New Zealand over Christmas. Almost everyone discouraged me from taking a vacation during a time of year usually reserved for family time at home, but I ended up having one of the best times of my life! Only you can determine what will bring you ultimate joy, not someone else.
3. When you’re on Facebook, you hang onto the old and can’t embrace new experiences. Facebook can be a powerful crutch to connect with people you know in cities you’re visiting, or even at home, which can make you less inspired to go out and meet new people. After unplugging from Facebook, I was able to develop new relationships and friendships, and also felt free to step into new experiences and opportunities that manifested themselves into my life.
4. Everything you need to attract the life of your dreams is inside of yourself. You don’t need social media to attract it for you! My friend was super successful and had absolutely no digital presence. It's an important lesson for everyone (including myself) who thinks you need to connect with thousands of people to be successful.
5. It's extremely hard to filter what you see on Facebook, and a huge percentage of what people post is negative. It's much easier to manifest things into your life when you're in a positive, feel-good state. What you focus on pulls more of that into your life.
6. Facebook often promotes an isolated society. Posting personal information, pictures and messages about ourselves as a way for others to get to know us only hinders our ability to make meaningful, long-lasting connections and to grow spiritually and mentally.
I pretty much made it a year without Facebook (minus posting albums of a few trips) before I decided to get going again. Throughout the year, I not only changed spiritually, but dramatically as a person. Looking back on one of the incredible years of my life, I realized he was right: I don’t need social media to connect with the people I really want in my life. I don't need it to be successful or create incredibly beautiful life experiences. I just need me.