Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Going Without Facebook: A Reflection

I gave up Facebook for Lent this year (and, judging by the picture I found online to post with this entry, I was not the only one!)

This meant from February 21st (I started a few days early) to April 8th, I did not engage in an activity that, up to then, I'll admit I was somewhat addicted to. It's sort of scary to admit that; being relatively addicted to logging onto a social media site and both reading up on what all of my 100-odd so "friends" were up to and posting several times per day myself about what I was up to, or thought, or found interesting, etc. Giving what was going on in my life; how much time I had to spare, I was on Facebook off and on several hours over the course of a day. And, this meant I was in all likeliness on Facebook when I really should have been doing something else.

I'll have to admit, though, even as I was asserting that I was giving up something I truly loved (and I meant it), I was also thinking in the back of my mind that perhaps this was a good time to start weaning myself off Facebook a bit. Truth be told, there had been instances where I found myself more annoyed than entertained; sometimes downright pissed off. How silly is that, then? To constantly subject oneself to the possibility of getting angry. And, over what? Some other person's opinion on (fill in the blank) subject? The fact that no one was commenting on some picture I posted (or that someone did and I found what they said to be extremely inappropriate and even hurtful?)

Facebook is a social "place". And, as with other places where people hang out (school yards, classrooms, workplaces, parties), there is a degree of who is the popular one, who says all the witty things, who is trying to say all the witty things, who is being shunned, who is being insulted, who is being talked about, etc. And, because this is all online, people can be a lot more bold; "saying" things on Facebook that they'd never have the guts to say to a person's face.

Anyway. As I said. To be honest, I was not going to miss that aspect of Facebook.

What became important to me as I approached Lent was, what would I do with "all of the time" I'd be saving not being on Facebook? Well, true to form, I had a long list. I won't share the whole list here (15 items) but here is a sampling:

  • Help Mark/Business
  • Read
  • Blog
  • Write (as in WRITE)
  • Spend more time with family
  • Play with Lucy and the kitties
  • Help people "somehow"
  • Think and reflect
As it turned out, due primarily to the time of year and our personal circumstances, what I ended up doing, mostly, was assisting with the preparation of income taxes. Not exactly the spiritual intention of Lent, but, life happens.

For both fun and sad reasons, I also spent quite a bit of time with family and I was also able to blog here and there. Maybe I got a bit of "helping people somehow" in there as well, indirectly, I suppose.

Several times throughout the Lenten period, a family or friend would comment (via email), "I sure do miss you on Facebook!" Interestingly enough, with the exception of those few folks, I did not hear squat from the majority of my Facebook friends, even though my email is clearly posted on my profile page. What does this tell you? I'm not upset about it, mind. It's simply an observation. It's a lot easier to stay in touch with hundreds of people through a few key strokes on one site than to send personal emails, or a text, or make a phone call or, God forbid write an actual snail-mail letter. I'm not saying I'd be any different. In fact, during my absence from Facebook period, I was a dismal failure at another item on my list, "Write personal notes to family and friends". I wrote ONE (not including birthday cards and the like). What's important for me to take away from this observation is, if I decided to never go on Facebook again, although it may take awhile, I'd eventually get back to communicating via an alternative method with the people who really matter and factor into my life.

Because I am a disciplined soul, I was not really tempted to cheat and sneak a few peeks of what people were saying on Facebook during the six weeks. Maybe this means it wasn't a hard enough thing to "give up" or maybe it means I was committed to keeping my promise. In either case, I didn't do it. I was, however, able to post two things remotely onto Facebook. I thought about it and decided it wasn't cheating because I wasn't actually on Facebook, nor would I go onto Facebook to see if and what people had to say about it. These two things, one a tribute to Margot (a link to my Blog) on March 1st and the other a link to my FIL's obit, I felt people would want to read/know.

As an aside, it's a bit scary how many sites these days have a button these days of "Do You Want To Share This On Facebook?" It made me ponder if, eventually, every single thing we do will have this option. "You just saved $12.35 with coupons at Publix! Do you want to share this on Facebook?" "Your pap smear is negative! Do you want to share this on Facebook?" Your husband just told you your butt looks big in those pants. Do you want to share this on Facebook?"

But, I digress.

Don't get me wrong. There were many, many times I wished I could share a thought, or an article I'd read, or some pictures from this or that. And, I truly missed being "up on things". Even though I read the paper on a daily basis, I always found out more about what was going on in the world by being on Facebook. Yeah, sometimes I didn't CARE (e.g., about Tim Tebow), but, at least I knew who the heck he was. Oh, and at times some (what I thought was) a funny or amusing quip would go through my mind and I thought, "Gee, too bad I couldn't post that on Facebook". But, I'm sure all my friends survived without my humor and "wisdom".

So, Easter rolls around and a few people said, "Oh, you'll be able to get onto Facebook!" I was busy Easter Sunday and didn't log on until late that night. I checked my profile (new timeline, great, something new to learn) and read the several comments there in response to my two remote posts. I checked each of my lists (BFFs, Family, School Days, etc.) to see what all my peeps were up to. I uploaded a new profile picture (this took some time since the format has changed). I posted a status update. By then, I was exhausted and there is simply no way I'll be going back through the past six weeks to see what everyone posted. Just won't do it.

So, going forward. What will be different for me? Here is what I am hoping to do:

1. Limit my time on Facebook. Check it once or twice a day. Don't leave it up on my computer. Not read every single thing people post and feel I have to comment on same. Keep what I post to a minimum and this to things that are more about what's going on in my life; updates, pictures, etc., NOT my opinion on every darn thing.

2. Refrain from having Facebook stuff sent to my phone. In fact, I'll probably remove the app. I may still send an update from my phone from time to time (or a picture).

3. Absolutely positively never post anything offensive, rude or hurtful to anyone. Ditto with comments.

4. Post more of my Blog entries as opposed to links to this or that article, site, etc. This way, I can keep my focus on writing/blogging (e.g., like I'm doing right now).

5. Get rid of Pinterest. Ok, technically, Pinterest isn't Faceook, but it seems somewhat connected to me and It's another time suck that I do not need.

I could probably add a few more but this pretty much covers it.

I guess I cannot end this entry without addressing why I'm even going back to Facebook. in the end, I still believe it's a great way to keep in touch with both people I know and what's going on in the world. I have learned many things from Facebook activity over the almost four years I've been on it (thanks to the new timeline version, I now know that I joined Facebook on September 27th, 2008). And, I think it's important to keep up with the way the world is or else I'm apt to get run over and passed up by the people coming up behind me. That's not something I'm ready to do.


Mrs. B

No comments: