I have watched friends, both near and far, do away with Facebook, either for a time or permanently. I have considered doing it but never really thought that I could do away with Facebook entirely. The truth is that there are a couple things that happen on Facebook that are very important to me. I have a very dear group of friends who meet once a month for dinner and chatting. We plan these gatherings and discuss any follow-up conversation in a Facebook group. I wasn't sure how we could continue this if I took time away from Facebook. I also have a very connected, but very long-distance, family, which tends to use Facebook messaging as the primary method of communication. How could I go on a hiatus without disrupting these two vital parts of my life?
So, I must confess that when I took a Facebook hiatus last week, I created a Facebook alter ego and decided to use that account to contact the aforementioned people. I have also chosen to log on to post a blog update, but I have not used it otherwise. I have been able to stick to my resolve to stay away from the noise of Facebook.
So, back to what I really wanted to talk about...
As of this morning, it has been one week since I bid adieu (for an undetermined time) to my Facebook account. I find it interesting to look back over the last week and analyze my "reaction." (Read: "withdrawal symptoms as a Facebook junkie.")
The first day, Monday January 6th, I kept finding myself defaulting to check Facebook when I had a brief moment of "nothing." I had to keep reminding myself that I had logged out and wasn't planning to log back in. A couple of times my thumb did manage to hit the icon on my iPod before I realized what I was doing, but since I wasn't logged in, there wasn't much to see.
By Day Two, I had broken my body of the habit (since that is what it had become) of checking Facebook every hour or so. It was rather freeing to have so much time on my hands. (Sobering, as well, to realize how much time and energy had been put into checking into the lives of friends and family afar, instead of checking in with my own family.)
By about Day Four, I noticed one of the lingering long-term affects of Facebook addiction: Every time I thought of a clever one-liner, I thought about how it would be great to put it on Facebook. Which made me wonder why it mattered so much to have something clever to say on Facebook. Which made me stop and analyze what purpose I really wanted Facebook to have in my life.
By Day Seven, I decided that when I did go back, I wanted to minimize my Facebook experience further by getting rid of most of the pages that I follow. I don't need to have my Facebook news stream cluttered with voices from companies and businesses around the world. Some of them are useful and uplifting, but for the most part they are just noise.
So, I find myself asking, "What use does Facebook really have and when will I return? Or will I return?"
I do want to return. I have a lot of friends who really do matter to me, living all over the world. It is easiest to stay in touch with them by logging in to one place and seeing how everyone is doing. While I have email addresses for the most important people, it's still nice to stay in touch throughout the year. And that's where I find myself wondering if I'm using Facebook the way it was intended to be used and the way others wish it would be used.
Facebook has literally become a news ticker. It was intended to be a place for people to connect, but now it is a place to share memes, link to new articles, and post inspirational pictures with inspirational quotes. I want to interact with people, not their favourite links. I realize that this is impossible as this is how we interact. Humans interact by sharing news. That's completely understandable. But I hope to see more of what's happening in my friends' lives when I return. From Johnny's first loose tooth to Matilda's wedding and everything in between, I want to share in my friends' ups and downs. We are communal!
When I left Facebook, I set a goal for myself that I wanted to nourish the relationships around me. I can see it happening, but there is still more that needs to be done before I return. I have set a goal, the specifics of which are private, which needs to be reached before I return. This won't be a walk in the park, but I'm motivated to get it done. I think that the accomplishment of this goal will go a long way towards setting many relationships on the right path.
Until then, this is my prayer, for myself and for you:
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God."