Okay, so all the cool kids love to hate on New Year's resolutions. "It's just another day," they say. "They're abandoned by February!" they say. The more positive (and smug) among them say, "I make goals every day, not just once a year."
All of which is true.
It is just another day.
Most resolutions don't work out.
It's important to have regular goals.
But I don't care. I love any opportunity to consciously change my life for the better. And hey, if it's good enough for Woody Guthrie, it's good enough for me.
Nevertheless, I found it difficult to set any goals for this year. I'm tired, for one thing... 2011 kicked my ass. I slaughtered a chicken (badly). My health paradigm was challenged. I took a leap of faith, fell flat on my face, and in the process worked harder than I ever had in my life. Failing so badly led my family to better things, though, and taught me the value of taking my time, and living with less.
I sought civility and common ground as I became a Chapter Leader for the WAPF, a truly strange turn of events for this former militant vegan! Although the principles of the WAPF are not perfect, I can attest their potential for healing. This year I also diverged from the mainstream environmental movement, LOUDLY. I can't maintain that level of fervor every minute of the goddamn day, though, so I retreated to my quiet life, hoping not to attract quite so much attention in the future.
At the end of the year I found my heart and mind opening to spirituality, and I finally helped someone other than myself (it's sad how rarely that happens).
And that's just the stuff I bothered to write about.
So what of 2012?
In 2011, I didn't write as much as I would have liked. I struggled to stay in touch with friends who live far away, and I didn't expand my camera skills as I planned. Especially after I started working, I found it nearly impossible to be creative with my time. So of course, these were some of the first goals that came to mind.
Stay in touch.
Take more photographs.
But to make this happen I had to be honest with myself about what's really consuming my time. Is it really that I'm working so much and trying so hard? Or am I distracted in a more fundamental way? How might I be wasting my time?
Why, hello there, Facebook!
Facebook is a tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or ill. Increasingly, for me it has been used for ill. I use it to distract myself from my responsibilities. I use it to escape. I use it to stoke the flames of impotent anger, an anger that I am sometimes afraid to release.
After all, it's only through Facebook that I am exposed to things I otherwise go out of my way to avoid, like "the news," not to mention homophobia, racism, misogyny, violent imagery, religious extremism, election cycle theatrics, corporate warfare, and self-satisfied mumbo-jumbo.
To be fair, I'm mostly exposed to this through the angered responses of my more conscientious friends, not because anybody actually supports this nonsense. Still, I wouldn't have to hear about it at all, if it weren't for Facebook.
Ultimately, information can be just another thing to mindlessly consume. It's important to be aware of the world, but at a certain point, for me, a negative feedback loop of helplessness is created. As if the technology loop is not damaging enough!
The funny thing is, since we've lived on the ranch I've been on Facebook less and less. I don't have an Internet connection at home, so I can only check Facebook when I'm in town, and only a few minutes at a time. Maybe this is why I'm realizing its negative impact on my life. If my time online is limited, anything that consumes a big, unproductive chunk of that time is obvious.
What's also obvious is how exhausted and depressed I feel after closing the Facebook window, even if I've only been there for a few minutes.
So my primary resolution for 2012 is to quit Facebook. From this small change I hope that many positive changes will flow. I hope to have more time for creative pursuits, more time for writing, corresponding, and playing with my camera, and more focus, direction, and sensitivity overall.
A few friends have wondered what will become of the Chicken Tender Facebook page. Because so many people essentially subscribe through Facebook, I will keep it going with automatic page uploads whenever I post something new. But the page will be essentially inactive. Instead of sharing links or short commentary on Facebook, I'll save that up for occasional (not overwhelming) "link love."
Other friends have wondered if I will try Twitter instead. NO. If I don't like thinking of my life in terms of status updates why would I want to squeeze it into 144 characters?
It's not comfortable to quit Facebook. People wonder how they'll get in touch with me, especially because I'm not the most accessible person by phone. I worry that I'll miss out on every awesome party and community event because I won't see the invite. Facebook acts as a placeholder for people I only see once a year, so maybe I will lose them as friends now. It's a scary proposition.
(By the way, doesn't it seem completely effing bizarre that it should be scary to quit using a website? Yikes.)
Of course, I have other plans for the year. Commit to a regular yoga practice. Read to the kids every night. Don't take it personally, whatever it is. I'll let you know how it goes.
What's your resolution?