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It’s been 27 days since I first deactivated my Facebook account. Honestly, they have flown by.
Let me preface all of this by saying a few things: I have had to reactivate my account for some non-social reasons. Reactivation happened for the express purposes of helping my husband with job-search related queries to potential employers, and these days even they use Facebook as a primary means of communication. Thus the reactivation while we are waiting for some responses.
Having my account technically open, but keeping it mentally closed for social-networking purposes, has presented some challenges. I log on to “just check” for responses but find myself browsing the top few posts of my news feed. I’ve also had a few random people try to chat with me and post things on my profile…and as I don’t like to be rude, well…what can ya do right?
I’ve also found a way to keep my blog’s Facebook page open under a secondary profile and have posted a few updates and pictures on there. (I’m trying very hard to limit myself to a one-post-a-day rule.)
So, in all honesty, I have not been 100% successful.
But, wow…I’m amazed at how different things look there in Facebook-world looking as though I were an “outsider” looking into the club. At first it was so weird…hard even. I mentioned in a previous post that I had doubts as to whether or not this was the right choice for me. At first, seeing Facebook friends “in real life” was so awkward. I don’t have a clue what’s going on in their life! And they don’t know what’s going on in mine! I felt like I was at a loss as to what to say to them! But, over time, I have found that while the frequency and quantity of my “social” interactions has diminished, the quality of those interactions has increased. For example, instead of a quick Facebook post to a friend about meeting for coffee the following day, we shared a five minute phonecall that extended to discussions about our parenting frustrations and how we deal with them.
I’ve realized a few things about myself. One being that I am definitely a Facebook addict.
At first I went through a sort of withdrawal where I was still thinking in status updates and then remembering, oh wait…I’m not on Facebook. But now, I’m really enjoying this newfound measure of privacy that exists from NOT posting every little detail of my life on Facebook. I’m enjoying the fact that the network of 300 some-odd people is no longer hearing about what I’m eating for dinner, where I’m shopping, and how many hours my kid slept last night. Now I’m living my life simply to live it…not for the benefit, opinion, and comments of others.
“But, Aprille, come on…it’s really your own fault…I mean, you were the one who chose to post all of that stuff!” True that. Which begs the question in my mind…WHY? Why did I post all of that stuff? What was my motivation?
(Do I really have to answer that? No, please don’t make me say it…)
I want people to like me. It’s that simple.
The truth is that for the last 5 years I have been living my life for the attention and praise of others…feeding off of their praise to find my sense of self-worth, instead of seeking Scripture and a relationship with Christ and finding my worth in Him.
I walked close to God in my high school years, but when I went to college I experienced several heartbreaks that rocked my faith and caused me to doubt God’s love for me. All of this happened in 2005-2006 and, as part of the healing process, God led me to some forums and consequently Facebook through which I met some amazing friends. Unfortunately, because I was still struggling with doubt and anger with how God had “failed me,” I turned to others for their love and attention and lived in denial about the strained relationship I had with God.
I never stopped believing in Him, or loving Him, but I stopped letting Him love me. Most days I would have never admitted it though. In fact I was “happy” most of the time. I mean who wouldn’t be? I have a great marriage that many of my “friends” envy, a beautiful family, people think im pretty, I’m good at finding resources and sharing them, people think I’m helpful and sweet and good mom… My list could go on. But I’ve been judging my spiritual and social success based on how people in cyberspace see me.
Is this the fault of Facebook? Do I blame my friends? Absolutely not. Do I think that everyone on Facebook has this problem too? No.
But Facebook and social-networking in general has made it easy to ignore my strained relationship with God because it has filled me up with vain flattery and attention. It’s kind of like not realizing your body is starving for the vitamins and minerals that come from fruits and vegetables because you are full of macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake!
As Facebook has changed over time, and as I’ve fed more and more on this atmosphere of the praise of men, my insecurity and self-confidence has plummeted…it’s never enough. I feel worse and worse about myself, so what do I do? Post more, seek more attention because it temporarily makes me feel better. Until I see someone else’s post about how they are doing this or that with their kids, or do Jillian Michaels workouts, or cooked something amazing, or lost more weight, or can handle four little ones with ease, or whatever, and I feel worse all over again! And I’m filled with even more self-doubt, anxiety, and self-loathing, until someone else comes along to praise something else I’ve done.
Then there is also the daily inner questioning of how to exist in the cyberworld. If you don’t post often enough, but read the posts of others, you are a “lurker” who makes people uncomfortable. If you post too much you are too newsy. If you post only the good things, you aren’t being genuine and honest. But if you post too much bad things, you are a drama queen. If you want to post about the bad stuff going on in your life (to “keep it real”) but give too many details, then you are “airing your dirty laundry.” But if you don’t post enough details, then you are being ambiguous and still creating unnecessary Facebook drama. Am I the only one whose mind is reeling now? It’s like no matter what post you do it’s always wrong. So people take the attitude “Who cares? It’s my profile I can do and say whatever I want whenever I want!” But is that the kind of woman I want to be? Swinging like a pendulum between trying to please everyone or not caring about anyone at all?
I logged in the other day to check something quickly and I browsed the first few posts in my feed. Several of them were heated discussions about something some-odd politician or someone had said. I had no idea what people were talking about and quite honestly, I didn’t care. There were a few other random posts, most of which were people “venting” about problems in their lives. Within five minutes the only thought I had was “wow…I don’t miss this at all!!!” I had been having a perfectly peaceful day minding my own business and suddenly I was thrown into this vortex of distress and drama.
The truth is that my life is much more peaceful without having to log in and scroll through the details of 300 other people’s lives. I have had more time to cook, take care of my home, and spend time with my family. Being off has shown me how much time I spent and wasted on Facebook when I could have been doing more productive things.
Me 1: So, you can still have Facebook, but you just don’t have to read through your entire news feed every day.
Me 2: Um, then what’s the point? If I am going to say I am “friends” with someone, shouldn’t I keep up with their posts?
Me 1: But that’s draining you!!! You don’t have the time for all of that.
Me 3: So just unfriend people and just keep up with family and close friends!
Me 2: But then people will get mad at me, or hurt because they think I don’t like them!
Me 3: Well, they can just get over it!
Me 2: Well, that’s rude and selfish…why not just get rid of Facebook completely!
Me 1: But what about my family? It’s the easiest way to share photos and videos? And what about your extended family? And your aunt and friends struggling with cancer? And your military sisters needing encouragement? Not everyone has a blog you can follow! Is not having a Facebook account equivalent to shutting people out of your life who really care about you?
This is the dialog running through my head on a daily basis. Part of me wants to walk away and shut the door on this chapter of my life completely. Part of me wants to just scale down my friends list to the 50 people I feel closest to and keep my blog for everyone else, but then isn’t that rude and selfish to ask people to keep up my life when I’m not willing to keep up with theirs? …and there I go again trying to please people…
I’m writing this not for people to give me answers or solutions. I don’t think that anyone else can really help me with this decision. I wrote this more to sort out my thoughts than anything. I’m the only one that can know how to go forward keeping God and my family first and maintaing a balance.
A friend of mine told me that Facebook isn’t bad, and asked why I can’t just keep a Facebook profile and stay balanced and keep a right motivation. Right now, I don’t think I can do that, and until I can, I think I need to stay off. I do know this: If and when I do come back, things are going to be very different. I’ve come too far to go back to the way things were.
Please understand, this is my own personal decision and journey… I am not trying to make anyone feel bad or judged by this post. I don’t think that all of this makes me somehow better than other people. I don’t think that Facebook is some evil machine that shouldn’t exist. This is simply the path that God has taken me on, and I’m going to keep following Him no matter what the consequences are or what people think of me.