I recently read an article on my fave blog, Simple Mom, about Facebook. I found it very interesting, and was inspired to write my own thoughts on this social networking phenomenon.
I remember the first time I had heard of Facebook. Honey and I had run into an old high school acquaintance in the grocery store, and stopped to make small talk (I loathe small talk).
She asked if we were on “Facebook”. We said no.
A few weeks later I was trying to remember the name of that site she had mentioned, and googled it. I found it, signed up, and the rest is history.
Until a few months ago, I was totally hooked. I found it served two main purposes:
- Being connected to my current social circle. It is really convenient to have the messaging feature where you can have a conversation between multiple people all at once. Also, many of my friends check their facebook more than their email, so it’s easier to get replies. And then there’s all the extras, like sharing photos, seeing statuses, commenting on them, etc. It’s like being involved in their daily lives even when you don’t necessarily see them all the time.
- Connecting to people I knew in my past. This is the part that I am embarrassed to admit… I got a kick out seeing where people from my past ended up. People who intimidated me, people around whom I felt loser-ish, people I thought were snobs, people I thought were cool, etc. All those feelings of inadequacy and negativity tended to come flooding back as soon as I became “friends” with one of those types of people (“Hey, I knew her in grade 9 and we were in a play together. I always felt like such a loser around her”). Why did I do this to myself? I have no idea. I also connected with people from my past who I had been friends with (my elementary school best friend, etc). However, there are actually a few cases where I re-connected in a genuine way with some good friends that I had lost touch with.
I would log-on maybe half a dozen times a day (I’m embarrassed to admit it!). I would usually just check out the homepage to see if anything interesting had come up, and if not, log off immediately. But sometimes I would meander my way around, checking out people’s pages, looking at their photos, etc. I felt like a kid again, always on the outside of the cool circle… but this time having an “in” to knowing what was going on.
The vast majority of people on my list (I had around 240 on my friend list) I had little to no relationship with in real life. I never had total strangers on my list, yet I wouldn’t say I had actual genuine relationships with them all either.
So why were we on eachother’s lists?
I think that FB provides us the ability to feel connected without making us actually go to the effort of building relationships with real people.
So a month ago, I decided to go on a facebook fast for one week. I had my husband change my password so I wouldn’t be tempted to log-in.
It was not as difficult as I thought it would be actually. When the week was over, I logged back in, and found I hadn’t really missed much at all.
Now, I log-on to FB maybe once a day, if I’m already online. I tend to check my email and google reader first, and forget all about FB! I also decided to chop some people off my list – I deleted anyone with whom I don’t have a relationship in the present, or had a significant relationship in the past and want to keep in touch. I kept anyone current social circles, like at church. I kept those who I felt I would stop and say “hi” to if I saw them on the street (and remember, I HATE small talk!).
In the end, I deleted about 100 people. It was so nice and felt so freeing!
I guess in the end, I think FB is a valuable tool in some ways, but it’s also got it’s quirks. I want to handle it carefully, as it’s super-easy to get sucked in and waste hours of your life away.
What do you think? How do you use FB? Do you think it’s helpful, or harmful?