Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Facebook Farce
I was spending A LOT of time on Facebook. It was the first thing I did in the morning after checking my email. Facebook was my version of morning coffee and helped me wake up to the day's chaos or peace, it didn't matter. My list of "friends" isn't gigantic and unbelievable like my cute 20-something niece's list with over 1300 connections, but I have quite a few people to keep track of and support when they are frustrated with Doha driving or fighting a cold. I was actually reading my cousin's five or six posts a day on his political views and childrearing, and we haven't seen each other in probably eight years. I was spending so much time on Facebook that it was starting to affect my non-Facebook time. If one of my in-person friends didn't know the latest news about one of our mutual friends I would start to wonder why she didn't keep up with status updates. I found myself thinking way too much about why my "friends" didn't comment on my latest uploaded photos and feeling a little hurt by their lack of attention. Even when I didn't comment on a link or status from some of my friends I would read through the "conversations" that took place after the updates and then find myself emotionally connected to the interchanges. That is how bad it has been. Yes, I will admit I was turning into a loser.
Facebook has been filling a void in my life for awhile now and two weeks ago, when I found myself actually angry with one of my "friends" about a link that was posted and the following comments that were made by various people, I knew I needed a change. I started with a day off from logging on to Facebook. Then I deprived myself of another Facebook fix the next day. Surprisingly, I didn't go into withdrawals. I didn't curl up in a corner and cry from loneliness. I didn't even miss it! I felt more free with every day that went by without Facebook in . . . well . . . my face. It has been enlightening and such a rewarding experiment, so I am continuing my days sans Facebook.
Now, don't get me wrong, I will definitely post a link to this blog post on Facebook when I have finished it, because I now understand more about the beast of Facebook since I have been giving myself time to think and interact in the real world. I have come to realize that Facebook is all about self promotion and smacks of those long ago high school days that left lifetime scars on my oh so youthful heart. And my reason . . . well I will be promoting my blog post and want people to read it. I have also logged on once to respond to the ONE person who sent me a message asking me where I had been because they hadn't seen me on Facebook.
Disconnecting from Facebook has brought all kinds of learning for me. In fact, just now, when I typed the word "Facebook" I created a typo (or Freudian slip) and spelled "Farcebook". Yes, I have come to realize that the illusion that Facebook creates is a farce. (Many of you probably already know this.) Facebook is not a good indication of how many friends a person has, nor is it a good indicator of how involved someone is in a friend's life, because according to Facebook, out of the 263 "friends" I have, only one of them cares enough about me to notice my absence and send me a message. I think many people are re-thinking their devotion to entities like Facebook. Here is just one article I read. And here is another one which is something I wish I had written.
I originally joined Facebook so I could connect better with my adult children and nieces and nephews. Since that time they have all moved on to other social media or pulled out altogether. Now my generation is definitely not the target audience that Mark Zuckerberg and his minions work so hard to try and ensnare, but maybe someone like me can help others think about what they are doing when they let their lives and their sensitivities be eaten away by something like Facebook. MySpace was the first of its kind and I know Twitter is popular now. Blogs have had their day in the sun too but they might be on the rebound (yes, attention hogs like C. Jane still have quite a big audience) and many people get lost in other people's seemingly perfect lives, but anything that removes us from real experiences is dangerous. These "easy" fixes for social intimacy only serve to further isolate us from the truly rewarding, yet sometimes messy human experiences of friendships.
I am striving to build on the real friendships that I do have and let go of the ones that really aren't reciprocal. That word is a key when thinking about Facebook. A reciprocal relationship is where both parties GIVE. Facebook is a taker, a taker of time, a taker of privacy, a taker of peace. There are so few things that I can control about my life these days, but leaving Facebook alone is one of them, so I'm headed back to the woods with Thoreau because he said, "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."