The rush of the real. Facebook’s effect on my brain, senses and social ability.

My friend Murray and I were talking on the way to the airport about this time last week. It was an early 4.30am drive, the freeway quiet, the orange glow of hot air balloons gently bobbing above the city like chinese lanterns.

The stretch of time laid out like the open road before us. One uninterrupted hour with an old friend, conditions to incite the type of flow in conversations where one idea bounces easily to the next.

The exhilaration of having a fresh, meaningful conversation wasn’t something I used to think about. Definitely wasn’t something which motivated me to write it down and describe it. Yet now, here it is.

After two weeks in Melbourne, the town I grew up in, I was heading back to New York, my home for the past two years. Murray waved goodbye. Until the next time we were face-to-face, we typically would piece together each other’s lives through Facebook, buoy our friendship through likes of baby pictures and Brooklyn, and scrawl quick messages on the social network’s walls.

That’s when I decided it was time for me to deactivate. Sounds so dramatic. Not really, and not like it was anything new or progressive, friends had dropped out of the Facebook world a few years back, blogs have been written, books even, people coming to this point a lot earlier than I did.

I wanted to share the thoughts around switching off Facey  as a post here as much to record the experiment and my own state of mind at this point, as to stimulate thinking and opinion about why individuals are increasingly moving away from Facebook. Group effects of Facebook aside (which is far more interesting but harder for me to write), here’s a diary of what I’ve noticed happening to me personally. So bail out from the post now if you don’t want to get personal 🙂

The creeping desire to deactivate Facebook (and it was a slow, creeping feeling) was not just because I felt it had robbed me of the commune of real conversation. It wasn’t Facebook’s fault I didn’t pick up a phone to maintain a friendship between visits home. That was on me. Facebook has had a profound effect on my desire to engage in these moments of genuine friendship when there was an “easier” option.

Troubling as that behaviour was, it was the general (mental) space invasion of a social network  I’d never anticipated that really put ants in my pants. When faced with an “empty” moment like riding the subway, laying in bed, sitting on the toilet (yes, really and true for 86% of the population), even walking down the street, it had started to seem unproductive if I didn’t do something else. Distraction is the new normal state of being. Giving my undivided attention to someone, including my own mind wasn’t enough. These empty spaces of time and thought now wanted to be filled!  The perfect oxygen for Facebook.

Basically over the past year I noticed my ability to turn over ideas, to wander alone and together in conversation, particularly deeply, has been impaired. And worse, I didn’t really care.

This is my first blog post in over a year. A slightly awkward ramble but it is another reminder of how I’ve become a digital sloth. While Facebook has been steering me away from making things and connections deeper than likes on pretty photos, the net effect is a divot in personal development.

As Sheryl Turkle said in an interview last year “We are letting technology take us places we don’t want to go.”

And instead of dissing technology, I’m hoping by switching off for a bit I can better understand how technology like Facebook can lead us back to our real lives instead of away from it.

77 thoughts on “The rush of the real. Facebook’s effect on my brain, senses and social ability.

  1. Hearty, sincere and slightly gushing congratulations! You just articulated what I have been thinking and feeling for a while now, except that you have expressed it far better than I.

    What a wonderful reflection!

  2. Bryony I love this!! In theory! Funnily enough back when Google+ first arrived on the scene a friend of mine Steve Colman and I decided we’d be ahead of the pack and quit Facebook. We proudly erected signs where our Facebook profile pics once stood saying “Gone to Google +”. It didn’t last and we’re both back (our G+ profiles are dormant!). Obviously your departure has nothing to do with being on trend (I think we were just being wankers actually) but getting back to real life conversations, connections and being more focused. And I love that, god knows I need it. But – the thing about Facebook is that it allows me to stay connected to so many people I probably wouldn’t stay connected to otherwise. As an expat living in New York City like you, that’s super important to me. Please keep blogging as we neeeeeed to hear from you more than once a year! I am also super interested in hearing about how this turns out and I’m wondering if there is a happy medium? If you need a pilot group for an experiment on this subject sing out! 🙂

  3. Thanks for posting this Bryony. I have often debated whether to stay on or off but then I think, “how will people contact me, or how will I know what people are up to?.” And although it has kept me connected to folks I have met around the world it also creates an enormous amount of frustration. You have heard me complain about this in the office but I end up just re-reading the most ridiculous statuses that make me question the intelligence of our population. That’s why I love riding the subway where my signal does not work. Gives me an opportunity to look up and notice the most interesting people that roam this city. As Luke mentioned above, I’m interested to hear your feedback on this because I also hope there is a happy medium.

  4. Great sharings Bryony, I would say hardly rambly at all !

    Would you say that your engagement with Facebook has distracted you from sharing longer, more thought-out blogs in the past year?

    I have had to deal with my own ebbs and flows in how much I use Facey… but now feel that its all just a matter of habit. For example, I write about a morning practice without it (and other digital distractions) on Medium:
    View at

  5. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found
    a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  6. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the site
    is also really good.

  7. These upgrades are really where this sports management sim is won and lost,
    by giving your team the best tools to improve.
    There is definitely a push for Tupperware recruiting.
    There will be times when you look over your shoulder, wistful
    for the days of being his better half.

  8. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article.

    I desire to read even more things about it!

  9. Once you create your Expert Page, you can also begin networking with other Experts on. You
    pay only for reasonably good matches recog nized by your potential customers.
    You’ll have to first verify that you own the domain.

  10. We absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content for you?

    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write with regards to
    here. Again, awesome web site!

  11. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a
    famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  12. If some one wants expert view on the topic of blogging and site-building afterward i suggest him/her to visit this blog, Keep
    up the nice job.

  13. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole
    my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 25 foot drop, just so
    she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she
    has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had
    to share it with someone!

  14. I get pleasure from, result in I found just what I was taking a look
    for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.

  15. I was recommended this blog by way of my cousin. I’m now not certain whether or not
    this put up is written by way of him as no one else recognize such
    precise approximately my problem. You are incredible!

  16. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.

    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted
    to say great blog!

  17. Gold jewelry can work with just about any other color dress, from classic
    black and white to pink and more. Don’t be guilty of the same kinds of assumptions,
    however. If the establishment is co-educational, then there
    are separate arrangements for lodging.

  18. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter
    to be really something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me.

    I am looking forward for your next post, I
    will try to get the hang of it!

  19. I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the
    web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  20. What i don’t understood is in truth how you are no longer really a lot more well-favored than you
    might be now. You’re so intelligent. You understand thus considerably in relation to this topic, produced
    me individually consider it from so many various angles.
    Its like women and men don’t seem to be involved unless it’s something to accomplish
    with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. At all
    times care for it up!

  21. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank
    you so much, However I am having difficulties with your RSS.
    I don’t understand why I can’t join it. Is there anybody having identical RSS problems?
    Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  22. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I believe that you should write more on this subject matter, it
    might not be a taboo matter but usually people don’t discuss such topics.
    To the next! Many thanks!!

  23. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing problems with your website.
    It appears as though some of the written text in your
    posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me
    know if this is happening to them as well? This could be a problem with my
    web browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Appreciate it

  24. Attractive element of content. I simply stumbled upon your
    website and in accession capital to claim that I acquire actually loved account your weblog
    posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing in your augment
    and even I achievement you access persistently fast.

  25. I think everything typed made a bunch of sense. But, what
    about this? what if you were to create a killer headline?

    I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your website, but what if you added something to maybe grab people’s attention? I mean The
    rush of the real. Facebooks effect on my brain, senses and social ability.
    | Bryony Cole – Thoughts on the future of work is a little vanilla.
    You could look at Yahoo’s home page and see how they create
    news headlines to grab viewers to click. You might add a video or
    a related pic or two to grab readers excited
    about what you’ve got to say. In my opinion, it might bring your posts a little bit more

  26. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles
    as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
    My blog site is in the very same area of interest as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from a lot of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this alright with you. Appreciate

  27. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I to find this topic to be actually one thing that I think I’d never understand.
    It kind of feels too complex and extremely huge for me.
    I’m taking a look forward for your next post, I will try to
    get the cling of it!

  28. This particular design generally begins once
    the puppy sometime to absorb the training collar is best used on their lives.
    Here is a must if one thing clear that Vito barks incessantly when he is doing the commands of” NO”.
    S, St Francis Pet Ministry in Atlanta is offering a $10, 000
    years, remote puppy training dog training. A dog training with minimal distraction. First off you will learn tricks faster than men and women who are not

  29. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this excellent
    blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking
    and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will share this
    blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  30. As a reporter, my job is not to define what is ‘best’, nor, for that matter, what is a ‘zoo’.
    For while the market may be pumping out what seems like endless noise,
    if you listen. Here you will be able to stitch in your floor shot.

  31. Setting up your i-phone 3G on the market provides by it a few advantages.
    It is possible to move into a newer, over all better and faster mobile phone with all the latest Web technology and images, first.
    Because now you can get something for which employed or
    even broke iPhone second, it is possible to save money in the act.

    Broken iPhones will be sold by them, also. You are going to be able
    to do this without really having to proceed through the hassle of harassing your
    entire friends and finding a buyer, third. Last but not least, you’ll be helping away the environment.

  32. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everybody else encountering problems with your site.
    It appears as if some of the text on your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please
    provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too?

    This could be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.


  33. Simply wish to say your article is as astounding.
    The clearness to your submit is just excellent and
    i can suppose you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to seize your feed to keep up to date with impending post.

    Thank you one million and please carry on the rewarding work.

  34. Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to
    see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has
    83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  35. We absolutely love your blog and find most of your
    post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write
    content for you? I wouldn’t mind publishing a post
    or elaborating on many of the subjects you write in relation to here.
    Again, awesome web log!

  36. Hey there! I know this is somewhat off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does managing a well-established website such as yours
    take a lot of work? I’m completely new to blogging however I do write in my diary on a daily basis.
    I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my personal experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas
    or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers.

  37. You’re so cool! I don’t think I have read something like this before.
    So nice to find another person with a few original thoughts on this subject matter.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This website
    is something that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  38. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous
    to and you are just too great. I actually like what you have acquired here,
    really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it
    wise. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific site.

  39. you’re actually a excellent webmaster. The web site loading pace is incredible.
    It kind of feels that you are doing any unique trick.
    In addition, The contents are masterwork. you have done a great process on this

  40. What Kinds Of Vegetables Can I Grow In A Hydroponic Grow Closet.
    By using a growing tent, you can easily provide the seeds with exactly what they need
    for optimal germination to occur. Although colder weather shuts down and destroys
    tender vegetable plants, you do have an alternative for growing your own succulent vegetables, and that is to utilize a grow closet and garden indoors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s