A Final Thought: Thirteen months without Facebook


By Mitch Allen

On September 25, 2016, I signed off Facebook and didn’t sign back on again until last week. All told, I went 13 months without posting, sharing, commenting, liking, facepalming, or slamming down my phone in frustration at the human race.

Being off Facebook was freeing, no longer having to stress over the nuances of managing my online persona. I could enjoy an entire meal without wondering whether I should take a photo of it and post it with accompanying words of wisdom. Ultimately, I came to realize that my posts were actually selfish, little more than subconscious attempts to managing exactly how I wanted others to perceive me.

It was time consuming and exhausting.

My goal for my year off Facebook was to do something grand, like write a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel or climb Mt. Everest. I fell short, but here’s some of what I did do:

  • My wife and I remodeled our family room mostly by our own hands. It took four months and two dumpsters, but we transformed our den from a 1970s-era, dark-paneled former garage into a light, airy space with more windows. Earlier in our marriage, we would want to kill each other during home improvement projects (the Wallpaper Battle of 1996 left permanent scars), but after 34 years of marriage, we can spread insulation in an attic with nary a discouraging word.
  • I hurt my back swinging a kettlebell and experienced back pain for the first time, including a genuine spasm. It lasted only three seconds, during which time I prayed for my own death. I’m not sure how the pain of childbirth can be worse, but I would never question that. My sincere sympathies to those who suffer chronically.
  • I played often with my grandsons (now 28 months and 18 months) and changed a lot of diapers. Truly, what is the evolutionary advantage of wanting to pinch a child’s cheeks? I just can’t help myself. I also like to kiss their cheeks, but they usually turn their heads at the last second and I get a mouthful of snot.
  • I got to know every bartender within a five-mile radius of my house. (Hi, Dan, Melissa, Jen, Lawrence, Jess, Tony, John, Jenny, Lee…)
  • I officiated a wedding, gave two eulogies and saw ALS, heart disease and cancer take more of my dear friends. Enjoy today, you silly man.
  • I acquired a 1996 Mazda Miata convertible which has been a great honor to drive because it belonged to my daughter’s father-in-law, whom we lost last year. I think of John every time I realize that I’m now the grey-haired guy in the antique convertible listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash and not giving hoot who Ed Sheeran is.
  • As I reported in a previous column, my wife and I hiked the 102-mile Cotswold Way in Southwest England through mostly rain, mud and sheep poop.
  • I actually grew a hop plant this summer. It soared to 25 feet, sometimes growing six inches a night, and yielded a pound-and-a-half of Cascade hops (dried weight) which I put in my freezer to use the next time we brew beer. I suppose you have to be a craft beer junkie to appreciate this wonder.
  • I made homemade wine for the first time, too, seven gallons of sauvignon blanc. I left it on the yeast too long so it tastes like a flat hefeweizen, which is a beer, not wine. No one will drink it.
  • I learned to drink my coffee black. I recommend doing this. It’s freeing not to stress over whether there is cream or not.
  • For the first time in seven years, the anniversary of my brother Michael’s death came and went without me noticing until the next day. That’s how long it takes, they say, to repair a hole in the heart. About seven years.

Give or take 13 months.


Categories: Smart Living