A Heart-to-Heart Conversation with Facebook

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Facebook, you and I need to have a little talk.

When I signed on to social media in 2008, I did so at the urging of my son-in-law, who told me Facebook was a great way to keep up with my family and friends and to share photos and life experiences with them. It would also be a quick way, he assured me, to check in with my family to know what was going on in their lives and to keep them updated on what was happening in mine.

Facebook, you have let me down. Or rather, people on Facebook have let me down. And I am angry that I can’t visit you now and then to touch base with my family and friends without getting upset. Instead, when I open my Facebook page, I am bombarded with stuff I have no desire to see, hear, or know about.

I’m talking primarily about the recent presidential election. I was for neither candidate, and I felt that we had pretty poor choices for our country’s leadership. But one of them was elected, and I am still – three months later – reading horrible things from both camps about the other. I understand that you are an avenue for people to express their opinions and beliefs, but I don’t understand why I have to read through these in an effort to find the kind of news I want to see. Before you were part of my life, I didn’t know (or care) who won the Golden Globe Award or what the winner’s speech was about. I wasn’t subjected to venomous rantings about people who followed certain political parties (and I am talking about BOTH of them). I wasn’t exposed to the hatred that seems to permeate throughout the postings on your pages.

I have already unfriended some folks that I really care about, because they are using you as their platform for airing their grievances, fears, and anger to the universe. And I am seriously considering saying goodbye to you altogether. I hate to do this, because I truly enjoy keeping in touch with my Facebook friends, looking at photos of children and grandchildren, learning about travel and life events, finding delicious new recipes and neat DIY ideas, and offering up a prayer when someone is hurting or ill. This week I have watched as my son travels cross-country to his new home in California from New York, and I have savored each message and photo that he has posted along his way. I have also celebrated a few birthdays with some dear friends, and have read about life milestones, major decisions, and other bits of personal news that I wouldn’t know about if it weren’t for your presence in my life.

Facebook, I have tried to figure out a way to block messages that I don’t want to look at. As a librarian, I would love to catalog them into neat little boxes, and then have the ability to choose those categories I want to look at. But I don’t have that luxury or choice, beyond your birthday bar on my personal bulletin board. I have to plow through the venom to get to the new grandchild, the family reunion, the latest travel destination, or the graduation celebration.

On a personal basis, I have to admit that I am easily sucked in. I have a hard time scrolling past items that look distasteful to me. I am compelled to give them a quick perusal, almost always ending up with an upset stomach and angrily clicking off of you until I can settle down and breathe normally. This is not my idea of social media. It seems more like anti-social media to me.

I don’t know what to do, Facebook.

I am holding on by a thread and not pulling the plug completely yet, because I know you have many redeeming qualities that I value. But I am not happy with you, Facebook, not one bit. And I’m not sure what to do about it.

For now, I think I will continue to write in my blog and share my collection of days with my Facebook friends. And, yes, I will use you as my portal for sharing what I write. I will also post photos on your pages that I want to save and share.

But I’m going to have to think long and hard about what our relationship is going to be for the future. Facebook, you and I are in serious trouble. I think we need to separate for awhile and give each other some needed space. Whether we split for good will be something to consider down the road. I am hoping our relationship can be salvaged and that we can reconcile our problems. There is so much good in you, and so much potential, I can’t cut the cord quite yet.

Facebook, I have some thinking to do.

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Addicted!

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I have been off of Facebook for three days- it feels like a month! I also have this terrible feeling that I am missing out on something vitally important to my well-being. Pitiful! Just Pitiful!

When I think of, and consider, addictions, I am well aware that while mine are minor, they are yet very real. I feel this way about chocolate. If I abstain for longer than a few days, I begin craving it and dreaming at night about chocolate- in all forms, shapes, and sizes. And, when I was a regular coffee drinker, and had to give it up ten years ago, it took over two weeks for the caffeine headaches to subside.  I am very familiar with these two addictions and am thankful that I never became addicted to anything stronger or more harmful.

Last January when I unplugged my television connection, I thought I might experience withdrawal problems. But I didn’t. I hardly miss watching television at all, which tells me that it must not have had too big of a hold on me. In fact, I have come to love the quietness of my home. I guess I wasn’t ever truly addicted to t.v.

But Facebook is a different kind of animal altogether. I first logged onto the site in 2008, at the urging of my son, and haven’t missed a handful of days since then. It quickly became my window to my world and on many occasions helped me through difficult times in my life. I connected with old friends, new friends, and even some people who aren’t even real friends at all. It’s been fun keeping up with folks and feeling the shared experience of these connections. I sometimes believe I know more than I should about some people, as a few of them seem to have no filters about what they post on their pages. I have also learned some very curious things about some of my “friends” and have been made aware more than I’d like about political leanings, religious beliefs, and even some very personal thoughts. In many ways, it has become TMI (too much information)! I have been amazed at some of the stuff people share with the world.

As a frequent Facebook visitor, I also noticed others’ virtual fingerprints as I browsed, and could easily see where people were looking and what they were interested in. I could also tell who the daily users were- like me. Recently, I became aware of my “addiction” and realized that I was spending entirely too much time clicking through pages, “liking” what I read while also checking to see who else liked the same things, and commenting on and sharing friends’ posts. This needed to stop, and knowing myself as I do, cold turkey was the most effective way to break my habit. I made the decision after a meditation session earlier this week that left me with a clear message to let Facebook go for awhile.

It’s tough. I want to log in – just to check on people and things – but I’m not going to do it. At least, not today. I have a feeling that this is going to be a day-to-day challenge. One day at a time. I may return to Facebook at some point, but I hope I will be able to temper my activity with moderation and not become as involved as I have been.

I hope I will be up to it!