28 April 2016

Why I Left Facebook

Last week I left Facebook for good. Finally, I followed through on my threat. After thinking about it and talking about it for a full year, I finally left. I left Facebook for a few reasons, and I want to share those reasons with my blog readers.

First, let me explain. I had a personal page and an author page on Facebook. Both pages factored into my decision to leave. I actually would have left Facebook much sooner, if I didn’t give my author page “one more year.” And I gave my page one more year, and that year turned out to be fruitless.

Everyone tells you, no matter what you do in life, you must use social media, and Facebook is always at the top of the social media list. So, of course, I listened. But after two years of struggling to gain followers, I finally gave up. Why? Because Facebook does not help promote my writing. Most of my page followers never interacted, commented, or even saw my posts. Most never read my book or showed any interest in my writing at all. Most liked my page, never to return. Plus trying to find clever things to post on my page became more and more time consuming. My time is valuable, and it is already stretched to capacity, so I began to realize my time could be better spent elsewhere. So I decided it was time to focus more on the social media that works for me, my style of writing, and my readers, and my readers are not on Facebook. That was a difficult reality to accept, but when I finally accepted it, it gave me a sense of relief and power. I do have readers. They are just not on Facebook. And in this pressurized world of social media, that could mean failure.

However, I don’t buy into that. I don’t buy into the idea that social media will make or break you. I don’t believe that any more. What do I believe? I believe in breaking the rules or making your own rules. I have done that in my writing, and I will do it again with promotion and social media.

Here is why I don't believe Facebook will help you, unless you already have a large audience.

Most Facebook users are scrolling through a massive amount of information. Most use their cellular devices to skim through their feeds. I suspect that out of 144 followers on my author page, a handful of followers even noticed my posts. I was a small fish in a large ocean of other fish, not to mention the whales and the sharks. It is unrealistic to think I can compete on such a large forum. So I had to ask myself, "why bother"—not with social media but with Facebook in particular. It is too large, with too much information, coming from too many sources. People are not on Facebook looking for updates from me. I just don’t have that large an audience. It is a harsh truth, but it is, in fact, a truth. And I am finally ready to face that truth.

So over this last year I did my research, and I thought about my own habits on Facebook, and this is what I have discovered: people get bored and move on. We all do it. Our attention span is very short these days, and there is no way a small independent author like me can make any difference on a massive social media outlet like Facebook. It just won’t happen. So I decided to leave. And I will be honest. When I made that final decision, it was freeing. I am going against the tide. Once again, I am breaking the rules, and it is truly freeing.

So what now? Where am I going now?

Well, my focus is mainly on my blog. I do have faithful readers here, and they have stayed with me. And that is really what is most important—the faithful readers. And I love writing my blog, and that is also what is important. You need to do what you love. Time is limited, and life is short.

I will be on other media outlets—the ones I like—the ones that work for me on a personal and professional basis—and the ones that focus on the positive. Facebook never worked for me personally or professionally. It is overloaded with information that is not important to me, and it is actually filled with negativity. I don’t have a lot of time any more for negativity.   

When I left Facebook, I thought I would miss it, but I surprised myself. I don’t miss it at all. I feel a sense of peace and my heart feels light. There is something to be said for swimming against the tide. There is a freedom that is difficult to describe.

So that is why I left Facebook.

Maybe you should too. 

13 April 2016

On the Death of My Father

I had a meeting with my spiritual director last night. He is a priest in our Diocese and one of the kindest people you will ever meet. We spoke about things of the spirit and the passing of my father.

At one point the conversation turned, and he asked me where I am going from here. And I said, “I don’t know, but I do know that my father’s death has changed me.”

Afterward, I thought about how I answered, and I began to ponder how my father’s death has or will change me. I don’t know the answer to that yet. But I do know that watching someone die changes you.

In the last week of his life, my father was unconscious. He struggled for every single breath he took. Each day he slipped closer to eternal life, and I watched it all unfold.

My father’s last struggle coincided with Lent. And I watched it all. He entered the hospital for the last time on Palm Sunday and struggled through Holy Week. He was placed in hospice on Good Friday and died almost a week later--the week between Easter Sunday and Mercy Sunday.

I explained all this to my spiritual director, and I told him that I watched it all as if it was a movie. And Lent and Easter are my favorite time of year. I told him, if I could choose my own death, I would choose this time because it is the most beautiful time of the Church calendar. Yes, God chose to take my father at the most beautiful and appointed time. It was as if my father was truly walking with Christ on his Passion. I wasn’t ready for the death of my father, but I see the beauty in the timing.

I have now entered the most difficult time of mourning. My father is buried. He is no longer struggling, but I am. There are no more condolences. Time has moved on, but I haven’t. The sun rises and sets, but there is one less human being here to witness it. The world still turns, but for me, I am at a standstill. 

11 April 2016

My Father's Desk

So we buried my Father this past Thursday. I am still processing everything, and I imagine, with time, I will feel the need to write about it all.  

My sister and I had to empty his apartment out very quickly, so we didn’t have a lot of time to sit and reminisce over all his possessions.

I am not one to really hold onto things of the past, so I didn’t take much from his place. I did, however, take his desk.

I’m not sure where it came from. I am thinking he probably had it when he was first married. It was probably in the attic of the house I grew up in. I know it was not used in that house, and I think he maybe took it with him when he moved into his one-room apartment. I am not really sure. I never thought to ask where he got it from. But I liked the old-fashioned look to it, and with some refinishing, I think I can make it my own, yet somehow, keep a bit of my Father’s memory alive in it too.  

I don’t really have a “writing desk.” I usually sit at a table and type on my laptop. But I now have a writing desk, and I hope to use it for a lot of writing in the future.