Recently two friends decided that they were going to quit Facebook. I admire their resolve, and the time has come for me to make a decision about my own Facebook future. I am ambivalent, though.
I just looked–I have 691 friends…except, I don’t really. 342 of them are former students. Of that number, some have become my friends in adulthood. I have fondness for them all, and I’m glad to know that they are doing well, but we aren’t friends outside the FB world.
Nearly 200 are people I knew in high school–now, many of those are still good friends, but certainly not all 200.
I am proud to say there are only about 10 people on the list I have never met.
There are a lot of positive things about FB:
- I can easily post pictures for my families in Florida and Michigan. I know I could use Flickr or some such site, but this FB provides a really accessible photo album.
- A few people, even though we haven’t been close friends in “real life”, have regular interaction online, and I would miss those “conversations”.
- Some people post wonderful things that I love to read and am grateful that I don’t have to find myself (and I love memes).
- WordPress makes it really easy to publicize my blog to 691 people.
- When I have a need, such as the name of a good specialist, I get nearly instant feedback.
- I find the two games I play regularly a nice way to relax (more on that later).
- There are days when it can be a really nice self-esteem booster.
- When I’m excited about something, it is a nice place to announce it.
- I often use FB messaging in lieu of email.
- Event invites are easy.
Now the negative:
- I feel enslaved to it at times. I am always connected: phone, computer, iPad.
- I definitely spend more time on the couch with my “devices” than being active.
- I get annoyed at people I used to really adore, simply because of what they post or how frequently they update their status. (One example: Vaguebookers)
- The games that I like do suck a lot of time from my life (although the “limited lives” games are better than some I found myself enmeshed in Castleville at one point…wow. Talk about time-wasting).
- FB provides a false sense of reality…nobody looks that good, and is that happy all the time, right?
- Guilt: I often feel like I should be doing this, or eating that, raising my kids this way or reading that book simply because of what my FB friends are doing. (Note: that isn’t always a bad thing)
- FB just isn’t always that interesting.
I often wonder, what did I do with all of that time before FB?
Well I exercised, for one. And you know what? Even if that were the only reason I quit or cut back, it would be worth it. I want to be a good example for my kids, and being on my devices all evening just isn’t positive. Yesterday, I decided to do some Pilates from a DVD my mother sent to me. My youngest looked at me as if I were a stranger…what do you mean, mom is exercising? Yikes! And here’s another thing: I am noticing that may students are having an increasingly more difficult time figuring out how to interact socially, and I’m starting to believe it has something to do with social media. I won’t make any rash claims, and I realize I may just be getting old (“back in my day” actually comes out of my mouth from time to time), but I wonder.
What will I do with my free time? Read more, exercise, spend more quality time with my children and husband, and knit. I will work on my blog and perhaps write the book that has been knocking around in my head.
Will power is not my strong suit. I can’t merely say, “I will only check FB once a day”. It doesn’t work like that. I will have to, I think, alter what FB means to me in my life and what it looks like. I will likely pare down my friends list to family and close friends, with perhaps a hidden group of acquaintances with whom I need to and want to interact with occasionally. I will keep myself available for messaging…former students can still use it to request letters of recommendation or ask grammar advice.
It feels a little bit like quitting smoking, or Diet Coke…which means it is definitely an addiction, at least for me.
Do you battle with finding the proper place for Facebook in your life?