Facebook, It’s Not You, It’s Me.

I have been eschewing Facebook for about four months, now. I have popped back on from time to time to see if my feelings about it may have changed. Originally, I had only intended to take a one-week break between Christmas and New Year’s, just to be more productive. But I found that I loved being away. What I have learned is that it is simply my own wiring that tends to make me shy away from Facebook.

As an INTJ personality type, there are certain personality traits that I have that Facebook really violates. (If you are unfamiliar with the MBTI scale, you may find it fascinating to visit Personality Hacker — my favorite MBTI site — and take their free online test for yourself.)

In short, an INTJ personality type is an Introvert who tends to experience the world around them based on an examination of the processes people use. We analyze systems. We plan extensively and spend loads of time learning, sometimes at the expense of doing. We can be very private, very closed off, even seeming rude or standoffish. But once we let you in, we’re fiercely loyal, even vulnerable.

Based on this very rough sketch, here are some reasons why Facebook — and most social media channels — rubs INTJs the wrong way. You may disagree with some or all of these points, particularly if you are not an INTJ, but some may resonate with you.

Facebook tends to lead to violations of privacy, a very prized commodity of my personality type. Sure, we all agree to the Terms of Service when we sign up. But Facebook’s deliberate design encourages an openness that is more than I care to grant people. I can filter and limit access in various ways — and believe me, I do — but Facebook treats those actions as counter to their purposes. If I make myself visible to only a select group of people, I have found that Facebook intentionally limits the visibility of my post even to those persons. In short, they penalize people who are selective about who they want to see their content.

Facebook refuses to allow anonymous or pseudonym accounts. They have even impugned the character of persons who want that option, only backing down amid protest. From a marketing and profitability standpoint, I get it. But that is not my concern. So I have a choice: play it their way, or don’t play.

Facebook and other types of social media allow for easy accessibility. This is unacceptable for me. I decided long ago that my phone, email, and other channels of contact to me were mine to control. I can determine who gets through, if and when I will answer, and if and when I call back. Facebook deliberately works to undermine that, even quietly replacing the email address you choose to publish when signing up with one of their own. You may or may not get Messages you are sent. People are notified if and when you read what they send — an option that Apple’s messaging service has, but allows you to turn off.

Facebook complicates relationships. It does not allow me to keep “the streams” uncrossed. Family, friends, mere acquaintances, workmates, classmates, and many other types of people all co-mingle on a list of “Friends,” when many of them certainly are not. There is an expectation that I must accept the friend request of almost anyone with whom I have spoken and will likely ever speak to again. I prefer to curate my own relationships, and Facebook makes it very difficult to do this.

Facebook prevents closure. If you have a rift with a friend, leave a relationship, or just need to take a break from someone due to some awkward circumstance, you can not slip away in the manner of your own choosing — whether quietly or with express dignity. There is a web of mutual friendships constantly updated. You have to not only “unfriend” this person, but also block them, lest Facebook encourage them to “friend” you again via their People You May Know feature. Even when blocked, your presence is conspicuous by the vacuum it leaves. If you are tagged by a mutual friend, your name appears, but no link. Certainly, there are analogues to this in real life, but who needs more of these in a concentrated, constantly-refreshed environment?

Facebook wastes my time. True, it is more accurate to say that I waste my own time. But it is also very much true that Facebook and many other businesses deliberately research how to keep people engaged, mesmerized, and coming back frequently. The methods they use are not necessarily sinister, but they are effective. In the spirit of taking personal responsibility for my own life, my conclusion is that I must limit my exposure to Facebook.

The rub is that INTJs already tend to isolate themselves. We hole up and work on projects, forgetting to eat, shave, or see friends. We love the isolation, but it does not do well for us long-term. We atrophy due to this lack of contact. Like almost everyone else, we also love the quick-hit high of approval when (certain) people respond to what we post. So there is a struggle, of sorts. For me, it is a net sum game. There may be times in my life when Facebook poses less of a threat/hindrance. In those times, I may re-engage more often.

But most of the time, I probably won’t. Your mileage may vary.

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

I used to love gray, bare Winter days. I thought it felt like a monochrome painting or charcoal sketch. Nowadays, I really wonder at how I ever thought there was anything attractive about it.

For the past few years, my tolerance for Kentucky weather and general mood in Winter has gotten steadily worse. Last year I finally admitted to myself that I may very well have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have not been diagnosed, and I don’t want to make light of anyone whose condition may be much worse than mine. So, whether it is S.A.D. or not, let’s just say that it sucks and I have had to put much effort into minimizing its impact.

On those nasty winter days, which seem to last from the day after Thanksgiving, at latest, until Derby Day (early May), I can be so down and exhausted as to be immobilized. It seems to stretch on and on. Last year I assembled a list of things that seemed to help me. Maybe some will help someone else.

Sun

This sounds like a no-brainer, but I had to remind myself all the time to step out of the office and get into the sun whenever it was available. If I woke up to a rare bright day, I rearranged my schedule to get out into the sun. At the very least, I would make treks to the window or outside and stand with my face turned toward the sun, soaking it in. The relief was palpable. Eyes closed, still squinting, it also got my face into a half-smile that fired off endorphins. Good stuff.

Lights

One of the first things I did was go out and buy some very bright compact fluorescent lights. I wanted to approximate daylight as much as I could. I was not concerned with energy savings. I lit the place up like an airport. My office area looks like you stepped into a tanning booth. The walls of my office are also lined with whiteboard material, so I get a lot of good light bounce. It really helps.

I also lit up my bedroom overhead fixtures, my kitchen, and dining areas. I still have lamps in the bedroom for when I want to dial it down for bedtime reading. But being able to walk into almost any room in the house and fire up the lumens made a huge difference to me.

Water

I have learned the vital connection between staying hydrated and keeping my head about me. But I still drop that ball with ridiculous regularity. I can and should drink almost a gallon of water a day. I’m a big guy. Your needs may vary. But I can pretty much guarantee that, if you drink more, you will feel better.

Sleep

This is a tough one for me. I have kids. When the kids are asleep, I get to unwind. I would find myself up till the wee hours of the morning, but still having to rise at a decent hour the next day. The six-hour-and-less nights caught up to me fast. I don’t always need a full eight, but it sure helps.

Green Tea

Another secret weapon. This does better than coffee for me because it also hydrates me. I just buy cheap Kroger green tea bags, which I boil rather weakly, actually. I only use maybe 1/3 cup of sugar for a half gallon, and I add one tea bag of any flavor herbal tea I want, usually some orange or other citrus. I can kill a gallon of that stuff daily, too. Because I make it weak, it doesn’t overload me with caffeine. Even so, I have learned to taper that off in the afternoon, lest it bump my sleep.

Friends

This is actually a more recent discovery. I have been terrible about getting out and about, seeing people. I tend to hole up and work. I forget how much time has gone by. I can spend two weeks without leaving the house, only recognizing it when my beard and clothes demand that I give them some attention. But being around other people shifts my perspective. Isolation ruins me. I have to remember that one this year.

Amber Sunglasses

When I was 19, I had a pair of Blue Blocker sunglasses. Remember those from infomercials? I loved those things. On a beach trip this year, I found a pair of amber-lens sunglasses at a truck stop. I forgot how they affected my mood. Even on a dark, dreary day, they turn up the feel-good colors. I will be trying these this Winter.

Meds

I have ADHD, so I am prescribed Ritalin. But I have learned that it tends to lose its effectiveness after a while. I have started supplementing zinc to replenish Dopamine, and it does seem to help. Staying hydrated is another huge factor in Ritalin efficacy.

Exercise

Another recent revelation for me. A quick walk, especially when followed by as little as two or three minutes of moderate weight lifting, works wonders for me. I intend to ramp that up this year.

This list may save my sanity this Winter. It gives me a bag full of tricks that I can use to chase away the Winter blah. The biggest trick is remembering to reach into the bag.Sometimes, when you wake up to a crap-looking day, the toughest part is just remembering to drink your water, walk to the mailbox, and breathe.