The Facebook Conundrum

By alison May 13, 2019 29 Comments 7 Min Read

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.

Other Things To Do At BrocanteHome

29 Comments

  1. Mimi says:

    I really admire you for the seasonal scrub of Brocante, starting a fresh and building strong foundations to grow upon.

  2. Jennifer Williams says:

    this is really beautiful, thank you for sharing your journey. I have also found in order to be truer to myself and my creative life Facebook is not really the right venue. Blessings to you!

  3. Jennifer Williams says:

    this is really beautiful, thank you for sharing your journey. I have also found in order to be truer to myself and my creative life Facebook is not really the right venue. Blessings to you!

  4. Tina says:

    Alison, I wish you the very best for the future. Honestly, I would have preferred to know straight away what would be happening with the FB group, especially as I don’t use Instagram very much but if that is where most of your followers are, I can see why you would use it. I hope our paths cross again sometime.

  5. lynne says:

    I will follow you anywhere. I so appreciate your honesty. I keep some of your posts filed away to re-read when I need them for encouragement and to realize I’m human and that there’s another soul — across the pond — who struggles like I do. Thank you for posting. I hope things go better for you, soon. Hugs to you!

  6. lynne says:

    I will follow you anywhere. I so appreciate your honesty. I keep some of your posts filed away to re-read when I need them for encouragement and to realize I’m human and that there’s another soul — across the pond — who struggles like I do. Thank you for posting. I hope things go better for you, soon. Hugs to you!

  7. Cathy Cochran says:

    I too feel just like you about FB! I’ve been making a conscious effort to stop scrolling so much as well as posting my whole life! I feel like my time should be better spent doing more constructive things. So I completely understand where you are coming from and I support you either way! ❤️

  8. Laura_Elsewhere says:

    My very dear lovely Alison,
    Well done. It has always taken courage to stand up against those who drain our energies, whether in abusive relationships, bullying workplaces, or power-imbalanced social media…. increasingly, it is “anti-social media”!
    Women who stand up to the imbalance of power have always had to be strong, but you’re setting an example that makes it a little easier for each of us to be braver, and a wonderful example for your boys, too, of how important a healthy work-life balance is, and that you do not need to obey marketing-men’s orders!
    I shall have to go and find out how to create an Instagram account, if that is what it takes to stay with you now! xx
    Love you always, my dear, here, there or elsewhere! xx
    Laura_Elsewhere

  9. The irony is, though, that Facebook owns Instagram and it’s going the same way as far as I can see. The curse of social media!

  10. The irony is, though, that Facebook owns Instagram and it’s going the same way as far as I can see. The curse of social media!

  11. Sharon says:

    I am finding Facebook becoming more irrelevant in my life. There is no need to spend my time scrolling stories that it decides I want to see. It has become far more mean than it was in the beginning. I applauded you for jumping off the train. Bravo!

  12. Kimmer says:

    Alison,
    I am so excited about you move to Instagram! I for one do not care for Facebook and honestly felt that I was missing out on a lot of BrocanteHome by not being a member. Even though Instagram is owned by Facebook I still think the “atmosphere” is quite different. I am considering restoring my account there to follow you! I’m so very glad that you are moving forward in a way that is best for you. I support you and will follow you in whatever capacity you choose.
    Wishing you continued success, health and happiness,
    Kimmer

  13. Kimmer says:

    Alison,
    I am so excited about you move to Instagram! I for one do not care for Facebook and honestly felt that I was missing out on a lot of BrocanteHome by not being a member. Even though Instagram is owned by Facebook I still think the “atmosphere” is quite different. I am considering restoring my account there to follow you! I’m so very glad that you are moving forward in a way that is best for you. I support you and will follow you in whatever capacity you choose.
    Wishing you continued success, health and happiness,
    Kimmer

  14. Mel says:

    Imagine me applauding wildly!!
    I despise Facebook…and have done so for a very long time. I’m in the unfortunate position of having to keep my account open to keep in touch with some work/horse related things but I can be on and off in five minutes or less so it’s manageable. I’ve never seen the point of it from a business standpoint and my blog’s FB page lasted all of a few months before i realized I was being penalized by *having* an FB page…because I wasn’t (and never would) pay for boosting, no-one was seeing my posts. So that plug was pulled very quickly.
    Instagram, I fear, is more of the same. The algorithm is just like Facebook’s so as long as you’re just on there to be *social* and not to try and build your biz, it’s fine. But otherwise, the same non-ad penalties occur and there’s the ongoing BS of shadow-banning and other dodgy algorithmic shite that makes the whole thing just as distasteful. Ugh.
    All that said, I think it’s tremendously brilliant of you to take this stand — to admit that something isn’t working for you, even though it’s *supposed* to is what I wish more people would do…to model the idea that we ought to be the ones making the internet work for us, not the other way around.
    I look very much forward to reading more blog posts…they’re the one thing I truly still enjoy amid the cacophony. xo

  15. Marisa says:

    I only follow you through your blog, which I keep up with using the Feedly app. I’ve deleted all of my social media accounts except for am Instagram one that I use to share memes with my teenagers. 😉 I will happily continue to read here.

  16. Cassy Satterfield says:

    Will you be writing here on the blog? This is my favorite way to connect with you. I wasn’t able to keep up on facebook and I’m not on Instagram.. I want you to do what is best for you. I’ve been reading your blog for years..and emails.. and I don’t want to lose touch. Thinking of you. Follow your heart! <3

  17. Katherine says:

    I removed Facebook and messenger from my phone about 2 weeks ago, and have freed up so much time! I do have them on my tablet, but I keep that in my bedroom, so only check in occasionally now. I do enjoy Instagram and look forward to your plans there!

  18. Katherine says:

    I removed Facebook and messenger from my phone about 2 weeks ago, and have freed up so much time! I do have them on my tablet, but I keep that in my bedroom, so only check in occasionally now. I do enjoy Instagram and look forward to your plans there!

  19. Always and forever. In your corner… Much love! You do you, and I will love whatever that is.

  20. lazy h says:

    Dear Alison
    I read your earlier post on iced olives a couple of days ago and wanted to write a response but couldn’t think of anything useful to add to all the sensible and kind comments already written by your other, wiser readers. However, I do want to write and say how sorry I am at what an appalling difficult time you’ve been having. I am delighted that you are surrounded by good and kind family and friends to take care of you, but even so it has been a heavy burden for you to bear of grief, stress and support for someone who has been suffering himself so much.
    Anyway, I hope that things are getting better for you now and I hope you’re getting and giving yourself the care you need. 🙂
    Re Facebook, I wonder if you’ve read this article by Olivia Laing? https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/05/olivia-laing-i-was-hooked-and-my-drug-was-twitter Her situation is of course very different from yours and she wasn’t trying to run a business in the way you have been, also she’s talking about Twitter here, but I think she makes many similar points to you.
    It’s always been tough to make a living from writing, but you do it so well that I hope you will find a way to continue that is satisfying to you on every level. You have a very distinctive voice and outlook on the world and your ability even to express difficult and ‘negative’ thoughts and emotions is impressive and touches us, your readers, and you can see from all the responses you have had how helpful people find it and how much they appreciate you. Best wishes for the future, Alison, may your light here shine on brightly.

  21. Cherie says:

    Hi Alison, I’ve been a quiet follower of yours for many years. I second your take on FB and also made the move to Instagram because I find it more relevant for the life I want. I still keep up with some groups on FB but otherwise I have abandoned it. I want my life to be more elegant too and I found that as one way to do it. I’ll be following you on Instagram now and continue reading your blog.

  22. Cherie says:

    Hi Alison, I’ve been a quiet follower of yours for many years. I second your take on FB and also made the move to Instagram because I find it more relevant for the life I want. I still keep up with some groups on FB but otherwise I have abandoned it. I want my life to be more elegant too and I found that as one way to do it. I’ll be following you on Instagram now and continue reading your blog.

  23. Marie says:

    From a practical standpoint–as I just read your iced olives post– I can tell you that the most beneficial treatment BY FAR for my past anemia was a series of iron transfusions….once a week for 8 weeks. I hope that is something you can access.
    But regarding this post: from my heart: I hear you. I hope you figure out the best way to be present, authentic, and impactful in your life and in your online presence. I can tell you that your words have been very helpful to me although I’ve only “known” you for less than a year. Being a single parent of five small children–and now nearly done raising them through their teenage years–has left me (at 52) college-educated, but careerless. Remarried for four years, I face daily the struggle between wanting to remain a homemaker and doing something that is deemed as “contributing” to the wider world. I, too, do not yet know how that will look, as I also am not fully financially secure. I appreciate greatly that there are other women out there who feel the same way.
    My husband and I also are being very reflective about the way we want the second half of our lives to be.
    I wish you the very best.

  24. As always, well-said, love. ❤

  25. As always, well-said, love. ❤

  26. Anne says:

    Oh, Alison….. I have no words, which is a rarity for me. I have loved and admired your writing for so long, I can hardly remember a time when BrocanteHome wasn’t part of my life.
    I think many of us are becoming less and less enamored with Facebook. If it weren’t the easiest way to keep up with my grandchildren who live 1800 miles from me, I know I’d delete it in a heartbeat. As it is, I’m cutting down on my “Friends” list.
    Blessings on you and yours as you begin this new chapter in your life.

  27. Patti Gardner says:

    Back in the late 1980’s, I had a full-time job (with a 30-minute commute each way), and yet I found the time to write a 783-page novel (which I never published). In the early 1990’s, I was a stay-at-home mom of 2 very young children, very busy with them, yet I still found the time to take care of my house, read, write, paint my nails, etc. Now, here I am an empty nester, and I don’t have time to do any of the things I want to do.
    In taking stock of the reason why I seem to have less time now than I had back then (when I had more on my plate), I realized that I wasn’t losing HOURS of every day on Facebook, blogs, and other websites. I had time then because I wasn’t wasting time on the internet.
    So, I stepped back from Facebook (don’t miss it at all) and severely cut back on the blogs I read and the websites I visit. So, I totally get where you are coming from. It’s time to get back to basics!

  28. I am so glad to see your comments open again. The last time I was here it looked like you had turned them off. I knew you were focusing a lot on your Facebook group, but I was still sad about it. It’s wonderful to see people commenting again.
    I quit Facebook over a year ago and do not miss it. I quit Twitter this spring. I’ve never gotten into Instagram even though I have had an account there for some time. Of all the social media, Instagram feels the most fake to me. Everything looks so perfect and I always leave Instagram feeling down. I know so many people love it, but I cannot get into it.
    I’m just a couple of years older than you and the introspection that comes around age 50, especially for those of us who are already introspective, can be really intense. But it can also be freeing. I’ve been in some similar places as you in terms of feeling like I’m doing all these things online because I’m supposed to, not because they bring peace or joy to my life. I’ve been steadily changing my site to what ***I*** want it to be and I don’t care what any experts think. I encourage you to do the same thing. (BTW… I have been thinking about similar polka dots on my website. LOL!)
    One other thing about the breathlessness and anemia…. These have been the only thing I’ve found that works for me. I dump them in a little more apple juice and they are bringing up my ferritin. Look up on Amazon: Spatone Iron Plus -Apple taste with vitamin C 28 sachets
    Also, I don’t know if you see a chiropractor, but there are certain things that can get misaligned and muscles that can get out of whack in the neck and abdomen and contribute to the breathlessness. I have been a clarinetist and singer and could hardly get the breath to sing. Between my chiropractor and PT/massage therapist, they figured out what was wrong.
    Hang in there. There are many people who care about you!
    Sallie

  29. I am so glad to see your comments open again. The last time I was here it looked like you had turned them off. I knew you were focusing a lot on your Facebook group, but I was still sad about it. It’s wonderful to see people commenting again.
    I quit Facebook over a year ago and do not miss it. I quit Twitter this spring. I’ve never gotten into Instagram even though I have had an account there for some time. Of all the social media, Instagram feels the most fake to me. Everything looks so perfect and I always leave Instagram feeling down. I know so many people love it, but I cannot get into it.
    I’m just a couple of years older than you and the introspection that comes around age 50, especially for those of us who are already introspective, can be really intense. But it can also be freeing. I’ve been in some similar places as you in terms of feeling like I’m doing all these things online because I’m supposed to, not because they bring peace or joy to my life. I’ve been steadily changing my site to what ***I*** want it to be and I don’t care what any experts think. I encourage you to do the same thing. (BTW… I have been thinking about similar polka dots on my website. LOL!)
    One other thing about the breathlessness and anemia…. These have been the only thing I’ve found that works for me. I dump them in a little more apple juice and they are bringing up my ferritin. Look up on Amazon: Spatone Iron Plus -Apple taste with vitamin C 28 sachets
    Also, I don’t know if you see a chiropractor, but there are certain things that can get misaligned and muscles that can get out of whack in the neck and abdomen and contribute to the breathlessness. I have been a clarinetist and singer and could hardly get the breath to sing. Between my chiropractor and PT/massage therapist, they figured out what was wrong.
    Hang in there. There are many people who care about you!
    Sallie

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