What I Learned from Deactivating Facebook for One Year

What I Learned from Deactivating Facebook for One Year

14 months ago, I deactivated my Facebook account and completely deleted my professional page as well. I also deleted some other social media accounts and refused to use others. You can read about why here: Why I deactivated Facebook and how you can too, if you want to.

Now that over a year has past, I was recently inspired to rebrand my website and start creating more, but with even more intention and authenticity – newer content that can continue to serve others while simultaneously awakening my own spirit by trying new things and exuding more of my personality by way of peppering my humor into my writings and videos. So Sprout and Blossom evolved into Mary Blossoms (like cherry blossoms, get it?). ::thank you. thank you::

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With that said, I am so happy that I did take a 14-month hiatus from Facebook, but my decision to reactivate my account and create a new Mary Blossoms page, was primarily so I can continue to stay current in my field (I teach digital media courses) and so I can reconnect in that special superficial way (snide remarks are fun) to the people who I enjoy having in my circle. Facebook is also a great sort of rolodex for contacts and quick, local info. You know, if I want to find out the best place to get a smoothie, I know I can get 50 opinions in 50 seconds. How incredibly helpful for combating decision fatigue.

Facebook has its benefits, and it certainly has its drawbacks. But now I know I will certainly be more mindful with how I use the platform and keep in mind its utility.

So without any further ado, here it is…

WHAT I LEARNED FROM DEACTIVATING FACEBOOK FOR ONE YEAR:

  1. No one will remember your birthday.
    I have to say, it was probably the saddest birthday of my adult life. (I’m kidding.) Some people remembered my birthday, but that’s only because it happens to fall on the anniversary date of a national tragedy. Even so, my birthday was certainly a lot quieter. It was very sweet of the close family and friends who remembered, despite my Facebook absence. But a small part of me missed getting 150 notifications, half of them from people who I don’t know. Nothing says birthday bliss like reading the same generic messages from strangers over and over again. Am I right?
  2. You will not remember anyone’s birthday.
    I realized how bad I actually am at recalling important dates. My friend Ilene was like Rain Man. You could tell her any date in the past and she could actually tell you the day of the week it fell on. Me, not so much. I’m lucky if I can remember what day of the week it is. And confession: Every new year is a horror for me with the year changing. For a good month and a half, I desperately expend an absurd amount of focus and energy trying to remember to write down the correct year each day. “199 …dammit!” “2016 …son of a!” Part of me thinks this could be the reason some people contract the flu in the winter. It’s too taxing.
  3. Politics and Religion: Destroying friendships since 1999
    I had the good fortune of deactivating Facebook during a heated political election, and I’m glad I did. I ended up finding out through the grapevine that friendships were disintegrating left and right and people were unnecessarily cruel to one another. Because we all know that posting overly opinionated material online converts your opposition the majority of the time. ::cough::
  4. Facebook can be a tool or a time-suck. Pick your poison.
    There is an abundance of inaccurate information that gets circulated and regurgitated online. Some of the most ridiculous, poorly researched content I have ever read was on that platform, and I am dumber for it. And then there are the time-wasters. It’s easy to get sucked into the matrix. By the way, which Saved by the Bell character are you?
  5. Most people are drunk on narcissism.
    There’s really not too much I need to say here except that when it comes to,… wait. Hold on a sec. Can you take twenty or so pictures of me posing next to this tree? The lighting is good. Make sure to get the flowers in the background though. This will make a great post. I love photos as much as I love validation.
  6. Life goes on.
    Facebook is more convenient for people to use than cultivating and nurturing a few meaningful relationships in real life. Bear with me. Since we all know 500+ people now and since anything we could ever want to know about is on Godfather Google, our brains / attention spans have only been conditioned to handle so much. It really is information overload. With that said, when I chose to get off of Facebook, I made an effort to try to reach out to close friends more. It wasn’t always reciprocated, but the experience made me realize just how much things can be superficial. I also learned what is important to me, and what is not. Cute cat photos are not important to me. But puppy photos are.

In the end, this was a useful 14-month social experiment for me. Facebook is just a tool. A tool can be used in a multitude of ways. It’s when we let a tool control our lives that it becomes destructive. I just found/find the site mostly annoying and time-wasting, but the fault was also in how I was using it. For me now, I have unsubscribed and unfollowed just about every page and lots of individuals who I really didn’t know too. I have simplified my newsfeed and am much more mindful and intentional with the relationships in my life but also the types of content I want to take in.

The beauty of it, is you can take a break from social media as an experiment any time or you can simply clean up your account a bit and unfollow and simplify, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just tired of it. Sometimes it helps to take a step back from things to view them with fresh eyes.

And yes, I will share this article on my newly revived Facebook page. Because what would any good piece of writing be unless it’s saturated in irony.

Catch you on the flip side,
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Learning How to Live Light: A Special Light by Coco Interview

Learning How to Live Light: A Special Light by Coco Interview
One of my favorite YouTubers is Coco from Light by Coco, so you can only imagine how thrilled I was when she accepted an invitation to be interviewed for my website. This is a time of the year when so many people lose themselves in a frenzied world of shopping and sales. I just know this interview will serve as an inspiring step for individuals to declutter and simplify rather than waste or live with excess this holiday season. What I find most inspiring about Coco is her well-rounded approach to decluttering and how she travels with very little. I can only imagine that her living space is a tranquil sanctuary.

1. Your YouTube channel and blog focus on living light and minimalism, but also fashion, travel, and lifestyle tidbits. The information you share, and most importantly how you share it, is something I find this world needs. Can you please share a little bit about yourself, your journey toward minimalism and how you have evolved over the years?

Thank you! Well, I’m from the Netherlands but grew up all over the world, hence my fluency in English. I spent my middle and high school years in the Netherlands, though my parents insisted on us (my siblings and me) having Dutch roots. When it was time for college, the itch to get out there again came and I moved to San Francisco.

Sometimes when my family and I would all be packing up our stuff to move to the next country, I would think about those cartoons with people leaving home with nothing but a bindle. I would wonder how they did it, imagine what my bindle would hold, and then quickly wave the thought away because it was unrealistic. Until I came across minimalism in early 2010. I had boxes and boxes of stuff that I never touched. I imagined I might one day need the contents but when an appropriate occasion arose, I would always default to buying something new instead.

Minimalism didn’t happen in one day for me. It came and went. Somedays I would be fanatically cleaning out closets and drawers, and others I would be shopping like my life depended on it and hanging onto packaging just because it was so pretty. I feel like maybe you can compare transitioning into living light to puberty. It’s a roller coaster. You’re adjusting to this new you, but the old you is still there so you get confused. You still want to buy all the pretty things, but at the same time you want to have empty drawers and a jewelry tree with just one necklace and a ring hanging on it. Now that has all evened out a little; I don’t feel that need to just buy something for the sake of having it anymore. It’s definitely a process.


2. Have you ever regretted something you have given away, sold, or donated? What would your advice be to people who are toying with parting with something (or many things) but afraid that they will regret it? (Note: I recently went through this with my book collection. Yikes!)

I know I have regretted getting rid of things but the funny thing is that I cannot remember anything specific. I think that’s where my advice lies – ultimately it doesn’t matter because it’s just stuff. I always tell people to store the things they are thinking of getting rid of in a box. You can put the box away for an extended period of time, and if you forget what was inside you should just go ahead and donate it.

Most things can be replaced if need be. If it’s something that holds a memory or reminds you of a person there are two ways to handle it:
1. Take a picture of it and donate it 2. Keep it in a keepsakes box. A keepsakes box is a nice way to limit the amount of things you keep for emotional reasons. Once it’s full, you can go ahead and declutter it and see whether it’s worth keeping one item over the other.

3. How often do you do laundry? Some people who have simplified their wardrobe will re-wear certain items because they don’t have enough of certain pieces (like jeans) to wear seven days a week before they have their laundry day. What is your laundry schedule and how do you make it work with the wardrobe you have?

Once a week. I have no problem with wearing my jeans/pants multiple times in-between washes. In fact, it’s recommended not to wash jeans too often. Shirts? I won’t wear mine more than twice and they will always get a sniff test! As for unmentionables, I have enough of those to last me two weeks, haha!

4. What advice do you have for someone who has simplified their home, workspace, technology, etc. but now wants to take it to the next level and live even lighter? Do you recommend a capsule wardrobe, project 333, or something else depending on the lifestyle of each person?

I love the concept of a capsule wardrobe and recommend trying it out to everyone. Project 333 is great because it’s seasonal, so you get the chance to make changes every 3 months. 33 items is quite a lot actually, if you don’t count jewelry like myself. If you’re up for more of a challenge, try the 10 item wardrobe. It’s awesome to see how limiting your options makes life so much more stress-free.

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5. What are some of your future personal and professional goals?

I would really love to, at one point, make a living off of my YouTube channel. I know there are hundreds of thousands of people out there with that same dream but I can’t help feeling like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel motivated and inspired to work on these videos. Living light has changed my life for the better and I want to share that, especially with younger girls. I’d like to make a difference somehow. I’d also like to give back to Stephen (my husband) what he has given me: the opportunity to figure out what I want to do. He has been so incredibly supportive of my journey. When he comes to a point where he wants to try different things career-wise, I want to make sure he can do so 100% with no distractions or outside pressure. Eventually, we want to start a family, but for now we are going to enjoy being just us two.

6. I was so excited to learn that you are married, because I find that many (not all, though) people who enjoy a minimal lifestyle and who have blogs are single and for couples and families, it’s nice to have some ideas as well. I’m married too, so I love learning about how couples can both live simply. I thought it was sweet that your husband did a video with you recently. What have you learned about love and relationships over the years that has profoundly changed your life?

I’ve had my fair share of heartbreak. Mostly because I was afraid of being single and rushed into relationships. The turning point came when the guy I was interested in stood me up for the 5th time in a row. I mean really, what was I thinking?! I decided that I was worth more than that and that I was going to live my life for me and not to be someone’s girlfriend (patriarchy much?). I figured the only one I could really trust was myself and if I was going to be alone with myself I’d better love me. I had fun with my friends instead of chasing after some guy trying to get some sort of validation. I’m so glad I was stood up!

I was happy, confident, and most importantly, not bitter. I was happy for the people who were in loving relationships, and I didn’t feel any negative emotions towards the guys who had wronged me in the past. The moment I deeply and honestly felt okay with being single, Stephen came into my life. As we got to know each other I was more and more convinced that he was the one. There was no urgency in our dating or fear of falling, it was wonderful. Every day I felt this deep sense of trust grow, and I can confidently say that the feeling was mutual.

What have I learned? Love yourself first; don’t make decisions (especially pertaining to your future) for anyone but yourself. In moments of tension with others you sometimes have to put your own reactions aside when you notice the other is having a moment of weakness (be that stress, anger, sadness, insecurity or jealousy). Listen more than you speak and trust your gut.

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7. I just wrote an article about friendships and taking an inventory of personal relationships and how important it is to be surrounded by good, genuine people. Up until I started doing research for this, I had no idea how many people of many age groups struggle with building meaningful friendships, finding considerate people they can vibe with, and letting go of friendship clutter. I realize this is such a broad topic, so please just share your thoughts on friendships. Have you found it easy to make new friends and let go of toxic friendships? Do you minimize your friendships as well?

My family and I moved around quite a bit when I was a kid so I am actually quite good at making friends and talking to strangers. From these travels I have learned that, above all, friendships are transient. We change as we go through life and so do our friends. The people we might have been a perfect match with 5 years ago may now be on a totally different wavelength, and that’s okay. It’s important to let go of relationships that just don’t work anymore. Friendships should feel natural, not forced. I don’t consciously minimize my friendships, but I have come to a point where I feel comfortable about people floating in and out of my life.

8. There is a lot of information on YouTube regarding how to be healthy. You seem to really have a grounded and balanced approach to how you view wellness. How would you define a “healthy life” and how important is having a balanced approach to health (whether that be fitness, yoga, meditation, nutrition, etc.) for you versus an extreme all-or-nothing approach? And going off of that, do you have any thoughts on all of the diet trends that are so prominent online?

Being healthy is my top priority. Exercise keeps me sane and my food is my medicine. That being said, you won’t see me at the gym more than twice a week or on a juice cleanse. I believe that all the small decisions you make add up to the bigger picture. Working out every day is not sustainable for me, taking the stairs every day is. Same goes for diet trends. Sustainability is very important. How does this impact the earth? My wallet? My mental wellbeing? No diet trends or all-or-nothing approaches for me, just sensibility. Figure out what you are eating too much of and what you are eating too little of. Find a good balance where exercise is enough, yet still enjoyable. Be healthy but still have fun.

9. Regarding social media, do you limit the time you are on social media each day? Do you only use certain platforms? Do you only follow a limited number of accounts? I could talk for hours about social media alone, because it’s a pervasive part of our society. How do you manage your online relationships?
I’m pretty bad about social media. This is such an exciting time for me that I check almost every hour. I know that’ll even out eventually though; I’m already seeing a change. I’m barely ever on Facebook so that’s a start. On Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest I only follow a small amount of accounts so that my feed doesn’t get overloaded. I don’t update  social media a lot either because I only want to send out content that’s worthwhile. My channel is about removing clutter from our lives, so I don’t want to clutter up other people’s feeds! Apart from interacting with my viewers, I’m quite a passive user; I lurk.

10. Do you have a career outside of writing and making videos? And if so, what is it? What advice do you have for all of the career people out there who don’t always put themselves first and who perhaps feel as though they don’t have time to live light?

I’m a Ux designer with a love for branding and identity design. I think that after the initial decluttering, living light is an amazing time-saver. It’s all about a shift in perspective. So instead of going out this weekend and spending your hard-earned money on things you don’t really need, stay home and go through a room to get rid of the stuff you already own and don’t really need. It’s pretty addicting actually. Plus, you can make extra money from selling stuff, and you can actually claim a tax deduction from donating stuff in the US.

Once everything is out you can spend your valuable and limited time on the things you like, instead of taking care of your possessions or shuffling around an overcrowded mall.

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11. Anything else you would like to share?

When it comes to living light and minimalism, I think a lot of people assume the goal is to have the least amount of stuff. They are afraid that their house may no longer feel like a home and that they will be rejected by society or that they themselves have to reject consumerism. This is not the case. This lifestyle is about finding a balance between too much and too little. You can still collect magnets and live light. You can still be a minimalist and have a garage full of tools. The key is to keep the things you use and/or love – the things that make you truly happy.

Coco’s Video on Changing Spending Habits:
For more information on Light by Coco:
Light by Coco on Youtube
Thank you, Coco!
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Also: Please be sure to check out my most recent video where I answer your questions and host a special giveaway.