Realisation rarely happens in a flash. No, more often it is a creeping thing. A sense of discomfort we choose to ignore. A weight we barely notice we are carrying, until we come to understand that we can take it off: that very little in this life is non-negotiable. Least of all the modern day burden that is social media.
It has been so oft talked about in the media recently that it is I suppose rather dull for those in possession of balanced relationships with the communities living inside our phones. For those who do not have to create them. For social media does not happen in a vacuum. Those inspiring posts, and gentle prompts, the needful advice and the fostering of friendships happens because behind the scenes there are those frantically trying to keep up with the whimsy of hosts like Facebook who make growth and small business survival an endless challenge.
And I think, like many of my contemporaries, I have come to the end of the line with the sheer exhausting effort of trying to play on an ever more expensive, ultimately, decreasingly rewarding field. For every post I write in my groups, or on my page there has only the slimmest chance of being seen by all those who have told Facebook they would like to hear from me by liking my page or signing into my group, and the only way to alter that and to bring the conversation back to what it was, or what it has the potential to be, is to “boost” a post through expensive advertising. Something I simply can’t afford to do in a period where I am just about managing to put food on the table, let alone, keep the roof over our muddled little heads. Something too, I resent being asked to do because it feels manipulative and shifts what was a level playing field into something governed by the kind of capitalism those of us who who have built communities organically over the years since blogging existed, have long resisted.
But more than all of that, more than the implications Facebook has for my business, is the impact such insidious, often mindless interaction has upon how I think about myself. The patterns and routines born from what I now recognise as an addiction to the noise emanating from the endless, repetitive discussion I find myself in, if not actively, then certainly inside my head. The hysteria I fuelled in reading my health-related groups, the nosy, need to know-ness I found myself relying upon in my local village groups, the ruthless, relentless and ultimately reductive challenges my business groups inspired in me, the irritation created by the increasingly ridiculous curation of their lives by people I know personally, the manipulation of my political views and above all else the mindless way I gorged on the kind of sheer drivel my feed delivered, taking me so far off my own life path I barely recognise myself.
I want, what Ste is describing as the “second half of our lives” to feel more purposeful. Elegant. Refined and edited down to only that which really matters and will ultimately lead me back on to the road towards a life less ordinary. Suddenly I feel as if there isn’t time to be lost to watching people slip on ice, deviants break into houses on CCTV or even so very talented people, ice biscuits in a way I will never replicate, but so admire. That I have to get back to having the kind of one track conversation I am truly passionate about: my life’s work, helping women create springboards for their soul from the sanctuary of home, if I am going to both thrive and feel as if I am contributing something meaningful to the society we live in.
I cannot have that conversation in Facebook because its very set up and my own jumpy mind does not enable it. I am realising more and more that it is quite possible that I am neurodiverse and that after a lifetime of trying to fit in to a world I struggle to understand, it might just be healthier to fashion for myself, a world that enables my own talents, rather than struggle, exhaustively through an environment in which I am so very often competing against the need to be someone I am not.
So what does this look like and more, how does it impact you as my beloved readers? Last week I took both Facebook and Messenger off my phone and simply took a sabbatical while I re-assessed what I need to do going forward. I didn’t talk about, sought neither opinion or permission, I simply went. If I’m honest I’m not sure I reached any firm conclusions, beyond understanding that I am calmer without the constant bleep of notifications and the endless twitch towards my phone. I didn’t miss Facebook, as my Barbie (my Auntie) assured me I wouldn’t and there was a sense of peace and possibility borne from my most authentic self I had not been able to tune into for ever such a long time. As if I had been trying to listen to Clair De Lune through the endless racket of ACDC.
At the weekend I played around in Instagram and felt quietly at home, a little shy, but with a clear vision for what I want to create there. I felt part of something bigger, instead of the stern headmistress I so often feel like in my own Facebook group, issuing prompts and keeping track, when my whole being yearns for something more. When YOU yearn for something more and I so very much want to provide it but know not how. I want to inspire you, not bully you. Share with you, but not give bits of myself away in the relentless pursuit of the ever growing numbers needed to make the conversation sustainable. I want to inspire you to live lives less ordinary, dependant on all that you create in your own home, not in which meme you share on Facebook. To encourage you to switch off the noise and stop running away from your head, to put down your phone and create domestic lives that nurture our very souls.
Thus, I am divorcing Facebook. I must confess it wasn’t in my plans for the fifteenth year of BrocanteHome, but then when I made those plans in November I was a different person: frightened by Ste’s suicide ideation and worried sick that if he were not to be dead, we would have to separate regardless, if he was to survive: that single motherhood was once again a very real possibility and that I had no choice but to go into panic mode, all but give away my work and over promise in the hope of suddenly metamorphosing into Superwoman, capable of working silly hours and producing much, much more than all those with similar communities, diluting my message and ultimately making myself so very ill recently. In sheer fright, I lost myself and I lost so many of you.
What has to happen then is that I start talking again. Not just filling up my feed, but actually talking to you in the way that I used to talk. Not talking for the sake of financial survival, but for the sake of creating meaning in my work, and contentment in my day. It would be foolish to try to convince you that life is easy right now: it is not. I remain tired and trying at all times to manage, but putting the cart before the horse, Facebook before Brocantehome, has been to my detriment and so very much yours and I am no longer willing to sacrifice my sense of home here. I want to come back. To enjoy the unique pairing of words and pictures that has always fed me. To stop trying to dilute myself in order to compete in a world that needs voices that are unafraid, not merely willing to follow a Zoflora sprinkled herd.
This week then sees a series of “talking out loud” posts on the site, while I work out a new path and share my hopes for the future here at Brocantehome. I do hope you will come along for the ride, but if not please know what an honour it has been to have had your company.
Should you want to hold my hand as I find my feet on Instagram, then you will find me here and if you are part of my existing community on Facebook, then please know that I will be talking about what will be happening there with you very soon.
Thank-you so much. One thing that hasn’t changed is how very much I appreciate you.