Ever since high school, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Diet Coke. Despite its truly terrible taste, I’ve craved this cold, sweet and carbonated source of caffeine for more than two decades. When I was in college at KU, I loved taking study breaks and driving to Kwik in my roommate’s convertible for a 32-ounce fountain drink. I’d bring my refillable plastic cup, plop down 49 cents and leave with a genuine sense of happiness. Over the years, I’ve cut back on my Diet Coke consumption and at times eliminated it completely. But, there are moments of weakness when I miss my old “frenemy.”
If I’m honest with myself, I know that anything with that many artificial ingredients cannot be good for me. I know that although it has zero calories, it increases my hunger and makes me feel bloated. I know that I’m healthier without it as a daily habit…
I recently realized that I have a similar relationship with Facebook. I love it because it makes me feel connected to friends that live across the country. I’ve enjoyed watching the kids from our old playgroups in North Carolina grow from preschoolers into fifth and sixth graders. I feel closer to my Facebook friends who live in different parts of the country than to those who I only connect with via Christmas cards each year.
On the other hand, I know that Facebook can be a little fake; some friends portray a perfect life rather than an authentic one. It can also be hurtful; I’ve had my own feelings genuinely bruised by seemingly innocent photographs depicting birthday parties and get together that excluded one of my kids or even me. And, although I celebrate my friends’ achievements, it can make me feel inadequate…like I’m just not quite measuring up to my accomplished friends with incredibly talented offspring…
For all of these reasons, I decided to give up Facebook and to “go dark” last January. It was a little bit like giving up Diet Coke; at first, I really missed it and felt out of the loop…I didn’t know what to do with my iPhone when I was caught up on e-mail and still waiting in one of my many carpool lines… But, over time I stopped missing it and realized that my life was richer because I had more time to write and to focus on actual connections with close friends.
I recently set up a Facebook page for GratefulandAuthentic.com, so I found myself back on Facebook. The experience has felt a lot like pulling away from Kwik with a 32 ounce cup of Diet Coke: I feel happy to reconnect and follow the highlights of my friends’ lives and to read the inspirational articles that they share. But, I also feel a little bit conflicted because I know that it may not always be good for my heart.
I am an “all or nothing” kind of person. But the farther I travel along my life’s path, the more I understand that not everything needs to be consumed in extremes or eliminated completely. It’s okay to allow yourself an occasional treat (in the form of a Diet Coke or Facebook session), but too much of anything can turn a positive into a negative – it’s all about moderation.
Can you relate? What are your frenemies?