Going Dark on Facebook

A few days ago I looked down at my Blackberry and threw my hands up in the air. I had just about had enough! Flinging my phone to the ground, I declared: “Facebook must die!!!”

Okay, fine, so it was slightly less dramatic than that. What really happened was that over the past few weeks, I had been frequenting my personal Facebook account less and less. I just didn’t have anything much to say. I found myself browsing my newsfeed purely out of thoughtless habit.

Sometimes I did come up with things to share with the world: “The TTC should burn to the ground.” “It is freezing like a biznatch out here.” “Watching Alias makes me want to drink red wine.”

But after instinctively reaching for my Crackberry and hitting the Facebook app to spread these profound thoughts far and wide, I paused and asked myself: “Does anyone really care?”

Yesterday, I had been chatting with my cousin about potentially disabling my Facebook account for an indefinite period of time. An hour later, I came across a Freshly Pressed post, Are you Being Squeezed by Social Media?, that asked the readers what justified us staying on Facebook and what would it take for us to leave?

Then today, I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader and came across Mooselicker’s post. It really didn’t matter what it was about (I don’t mean it like that, Tim) — all I saw were the words “Soul Sellers” and “Facebook” together and my mouth dropped open. My God, it was a sign.

What did justify me staying on Facebook? What the heck did I do on there anyway? I decided to take a browse around my page to determine this answer.

I found that I used Facebook to broadcast urgent requests:

I used Facebook to update my friends on what had become of me …

… and about my vacations and crazy new adventures.

My Facebook page was the home of many a football game commentary, where friends would take the opportunity to diplomatically discuss their thoughts on my favourite team.

But Facebook was also where friends would send me links to interesting videos and news articles:

And where I could easily connect with family who lived in different countries:

So at the end of my search, I was nowhere closer to figuring out the answers to my burning questions:

  • Would shutting down my account actually lead to more meaningful communication between my friends and I?
  • Or would I simply lose connections with people I did care about, but who choose to mainly communicate through FB?
  • Are emailing and texting actually more meaningful ways of communicating? Do we give FB a lot more flack than it deserves?
  • Would I be more productive with the time I was using to mindlessly browse my newsfeed? Or would I at the very least feel less like a FB automaton?

WOULD MY LIFE CHANGE WITHOUT FACEBOOK? OR WOULD ITS DEMISE BARELY MAKE A DENT?

I’m curious to find out. But I’m not completely convinced just yet. Thoughts, people?

– Cafe <3

Photo Credit: Facebook stats

Getting Past the Stereotypes: The Inside Story on the Jane-Finch Community

Paul Nguyen, my guest blogger and founder of Jane-Finch.com. Here, he has received the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada Award.

The Jane-Finch area has a bad rep for gangs, drugs and gun violence. It’s a community north of Toronto and a place many immigrants call home. Residents have fought hard to change the public’s perception by working together to show the positive reality of the neighbourhood.

I grew up there and, as a kid, I was unaware of the media stereotypes. For me, the community was an exciting mix of diversity, culture, and occasional mayhem. It was normal to shoot firecrackers at each other during Victoria Day, shop for brand names inside someone’s apartment, and witness the 6 o’ clock news reporting a murder on your street. I’ve seen SWAT guys, police, and gangsters walking around with sawed-off shotguns. It’s not your typical suburban upbringing, but those unordinary moments help give you a different perspective on life. Continue reading

Life’s Greatest Mysteries: The Cure for Insomnia

There’s a lot of things in life that I don’t understand, but climbing to the very peak of that list is how people can fall asleep, full out snoring, within sheer seconds of their head hitting the pillow. If you are one of these people, start explaining.

I’ve been an insomniac for quite some time now. These days, I’ve been hit particularly hard. I lie down in bed and my brain is wired. I’m up at odd hours of the night. Then I have to arise from my sorry excuse for a slumber at some godforsaken hour in the morning.

Every day, the question of prime importance has been whether I should engage in that second cup of delicious coffee or desist. Most days I surprise myself with the willpower to begrudgingly let it go. Other days, I crumble without shame.

Yesterday, someone suggested that I buy a bottle of melatonin and take some before bed to regulate my sleeping schedule. It wasn’t the first time this was suggested to me, but the idea of taking a sleep-inducing chemical to put an end to my misery at night has always given me the heeby-jeebies. What if that stuff is so damn good that I can’t get off it?

Not only that, I had been re-reading one of my favourite books, Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography, and was at the part where the author Streatfeild describes how cocaine products, when first introduced into Western society, were sold in pharmacies and praised as the cure-alls to any ailment one may be presenting with. Toothache? Stomachache? Stuffy nose? Try cocaine. Next thing you knew, cocaine addicts were sprouting up everywhere.

Well, after passing out on the bus and missing my stop — which meant that I ended up taking a tour of the city for almost two hours — my fears of turning into a melatonin junkie were superseded by the realization that things were getting way out of hand. I needed to get my act together. Pronto.

So today I picked up a bottle of liquid melatonin and after having read another couple chapters of Cocaine, warily examined the bottle and decided, at 8:45 pm, that it was time to take the plunge. Ten minutes after having a few sips of my green tea-melatonin concoction, I started feeling funny.

Ah, it’s all psychological, I scoffed.

But no, it was really taking over my body. For fear that my face might end up implanting itself into the table in front of me, I retreated safely to my bedroom where I am now groggily writing these last two paragraphs. So here I am, at 9:15, ready to fade away into La La Land. Good…zzzzzzzzz…

– Cafe <3

Let’s talk about suicide. Volunteers anyone?

I’d say most of us consider suicide a sensitive topic, and it’s rare to come across someone who’s outspoken about their suicidal experiences. But is suicide more prevalent in this day and age, or is it because of social media that makes it seem more common?

My name is Tai, and I would like to share my views and experiences on the choices of life and death. I’m recovering from substance addiction and depression, and I attend the CAMH addictions and mental health program.

In my group therapy sessions we often discuss emotional well-being and its effect on choice-making. During one of our sessions a particular member came out and admitted that he had attempted suicide. Not only did he surprise the entire group and myself, but also caught the counselor off guard because she didn’t quite know how to respond to him.

He recounted that fateful night with vivid description, where he went out and purchased what he needed to hang himself.

He said he survived only because someone found him hanging unconscious but just short of zero vital signs. He went on saying that he does not regret surviving, but he regrets that he botched his suicide because he now feels stigmatized as “the guy who tried to take the easy way out.”

Opinions aside, I just have to say I deeply admire his courage to speak up and share his darkest of experiences. I myself have had suicidal thoughts but even sharing my thoughts I find it difficult.

There’s a saying, “the will to live is great, but the will to die is greater.”

So, did he really take the easy way out?

* * *

I want to sincerely thank my friend Tai for writing this very honest post and sharing his personal experiences here. As he said, suicide is a very sensitive subject and maybe most people would prefer to avoid it altogether. However, I feel like there is just not enough attention brought to this problem which is much more widespread than most of us probably realize. In one of my recent posts, On Mental Health: If You Got Issues, You’re Officially “Normal”, I talked about the stigma surrounding mental illness and the need to talk more openly about these issues and I appreciate Tai contributing to this discussion.

Since publishing this post, I’ve come across a couple of other posts on suicide that I think are worth a read and certainly got me thinking more about the question: Is suicide selfish?
A letter to my brother-in-law by Twindaddy (about suicide being a selfish act)
Suicide isn’t selfish, so why don’t we all quit saying that? by Sara (the title explains her take)

CAMH is the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health