A little over a year ago I said goodbye to Facebook. I was over-stimulated, had lost my ability to manage my time well, and my thinking had become muddled. When I took a step back to examine the cause of these things, I came to realize just how much time I wasted on Facebook. I felt as if I had lost my ability to use social networking correctly. So, on a whim, I deactivated my account.
At first I was nervous that my relationships with people would be comprimised without Facebook. A year prior, a few friends and I had maintained a weekly email swap on the site, but that communication died out long before I ditched my account. Sure, I felt out of the loop with some folks, but without Facebook, I came to realize that my "relationships" on Facebook were shallow and never moved beyond virtual correspondence. Now, some folks may see these "realtionships" as genuine. But for me to feel like a relationship is genuine, I need face to face interaction. I need to spend time physically talking with people so I can observe the story they tell with their eyes and their body language. It helps me to understand people better. It feels more intimate and more real.
Over the summer a colleague and I chatted about Facebook, and she admitted that it changed the way she thought; she felt like, at times, it had turned her into a more self-absorbed person. She shared that she sometimes caught herself thinking about what she should post as her status and what those updates would imply about her. I could relate; social networking allows us to be whoever we want to be, even if that means we're posing as someone we're not. Our conversation moved towards times in our lives when we should've been enjoying a moment, but instead, we let that moment pass us by as we debated over what to share on Facebook in regards to that moment. For example, I know I missed out on genuine conversations with my husband as we road tripped to the Pacific Northwest a few summers ago because I was busy posting about the trip on Facebook.
It's funny how much social networking consumed my thinking. I was so connected with other people and their posts, that I felt like I couldn't generate an original thought that was truly my own and not a derivative of someone else's. I do value learning from others, and I value the collaboration and sharing that can come from social networking, but I had simply let it take over my thinking.
I feel refreshed and centered now that I've been able to take a step back from the constant flow of information. The other night my husband and I chatted about how hard it's been to connect with people here in Omaha. I mentioned that I have some old friends from high school who now live here, and that it would be nice to possibly get together with one or two of them. I haven't talked with many of these people since I deactivated my account. I know Facebook would make initiating communication easier. I lamented to him that I haven't been able to find a running partner to replace Kristin. "Maybe it's time you joined Facebook again," he said. Honestly, I knew that was coming. It's been something I've contemplated for a few months now, but I've resisted it in part because I kind of like swimming against the crowd, but I appreciate the silence and freedom I've had since being away. I know it's a matter of balance. I do feel like I'm struggling with that concept lately as I've let my job consume my life this semester; perhaps Facebook would offer a bit of a reprieve. It's funny, awhile back a friend recommended I read Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture, and I've put off buying it simply because I've let gading become an excuse for not reading. But today I bought the book.
I'm going to give this Facebook debacle some thought and prayer this week; I guess we'll see where I feel led.