My joy for today is being facebook free for over a month.
“Hello, my name is Amber and I am a former facebook addict.” Sometimes I feel compelled to start a support group for former facebook addicts. I deactivated my account about a month ago and since that time, people have come out of the woodwork to confess their addiction to me. The response from leaving has been quite surprising.
I first heard about facebook from my younger brother and sister. Back in the day, it was mostly for college students. Then about three years ago, I reconnected with one of my best friends, and she used it and convinced me to join. I absolutely loved it at first. I added pictures, endured the endless revisions to the homepage and appearance of the site; I “accepted” as “friends” people from high school that I never spoke to in my four years at the school. I tried to maintain strict rules for who my “friends” would be but then I was convicted by our pastor that if Jesus were walking the Earth and were a member of facebook, He would not deny friendship to anyone. The friend list grew.
There are so many things that are great about facebook and that I truly enjoyed. I posted pictures, tagged everyone in them, added witty captions, updated my status at least weekly, and checked in at least daily. I posted pictures of my children’s births and shared in the joy of pregnancy, new babies, new homes, and new relationships with friends that lived close by, in a different state, and in different countries. I also really enjoyed sharing and feeling the national consciousness about events like the presidential election or the death of Michael Jackson. For a while , I even enhanced that experience with a Twitter account. About a year into facebook, I started a group entitled, “Never though I would join facebook, now addicted and LOVING it.” It was funny at the time, but the beast was starting to turn on me.
I have a part-time job as an online Sociology professor. Since I have to check my e-mail for work daily, I also would “have” to check facebook daily. When grading endless papers, I would reward myself for grading five papers with a 10 minute relaxation period on facebook. I could never quite figure out what was the best amount to share. How personal should one be on the internet? How much should you share? How much do others care? These questions plagued me. At my lowest moments, when my kids would need something from the next room, I would yell to them, “Be there in a couple of minutes!” because I was too busy looking through an acquaintance’s pictures from a recent vacation. Oh my. The shame.
The nail in the coffin occurred one night when a friend mentioned that she heard a rumor that facebook was going to start charging for their service. I acted surprised but was secretly overjoyed. This was finally my out! As soon as the friend left, I begged Google to tell me it was true. Alas, it was not. Facebook would be free; I was still trapped. I knew this had to be the end; my true feelings about the experience that is facebook were painfully obvious. I deactivated.
I hesitated to write anything about leaving facebook. I fear seeming judgmental or smug about decisions that I make for my life that do not necessarily have any application to other’s lives. And of course, blogging is its own monster that I have voluntarily befriended, but I will have to discuss in a future post. Ultimately, the ongoing outpouring of friends sharing their struggles with the site made it seem like a duty to write about my decision.
So, dear reader, I ask you: Do you truly enjoy facebook? Do you check it more than you would like? Are you friends with people who you do not really consider a friend? Do you think of your life in terms of status updates? Do you feel less self-worth when you receive fewer than expected comments on your photos? Are you starting to feel that your life is only worth as much as it is noticed by the outside world? These were all true for me. If they are true for you, consider if the virtual world is adding joy or strife to your life. You are in control of your presence on the world-wide web and even more importantly, of its presence in your life. Being facebook free was a good decision for me. If you can identify, it might be good for you too. If not, have fun, upload those pictures proudly, and please remember to call me if you have big news to share or if a celebrity dies. 🙂
Enjoy your joys for today.