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I feel like my blog readers deserve a bit of an update after all the blogging I did about my personal issues with Facebook and my month-long deactivation in April. If you are new to my blog or would just like to refresh yourself on what I’m talking about, you can read my posts here:
I am incredibly thankful for all the support and advice I was given from friends and family and all of the things that I learned about myself during my month off. When I came back to Facebook I did so with a very different outlook on life in general, and specifically on social interactions and how they function best in my life.
The first thing I did was do a major scale back on my Facebook likes, blogs, and pages. Then I went to my friends list. Cutting out “friends” is a much harder thing to do. After several days of consideration and soul-searching, I had gone from 339 friends to 119 friends, a loss of 220 people. One of the difficult things about Facebook is that with the level of connection in regard to “mutual friends,” it’s very easy to be reminded about people who have unfriended you (or you have unfriended) because you can see their name pop up in your notifications. Because I interacted in so many sub-circles of friendships, and have kept certain people from those circles, I can see some people asking themselves, “Why is she still friends with her, but not me?” I’ve heard through the grapevine that others didn’t really understand why they didn’t “make the cut” and perhaps even had their feelings hurt. I can assure you that there were so many factors that went into each decision, and while I don’t feel like I HAVE to explain each decision, I do care about the people that I cut and would like to take a moment to explain some of those general reasons a bit further. Here are some of the questions I would ask myself during this process.
- “How deeply connected do I feel to this person?” It wasn’t a matter of “I like her” or “I don’t like her.” It was a matter of depth of our relationship. I have come to the conclusion that, for me, I’m not going to use Facebook to keep up with “acquaintances” but rather dear friends. I will be very honest in saying that there were some people on my friends list whose updates went “in one ear and out the other.” I feel bad about that, but when you have over 300 “friends” it’s a lot easier to do. I hypothetically gave myself a quiz and if I couldn’t spit out the names and approximate ages of your children, most likely you didn’t “make the cut.” I would rather be honest and admit that we aren’t really that good of friends and be able to devote more time to the people that I really connect with, than to maintain some facade of “friendship” that doesn’t really exist.
- “How much do I connect with this person outside of Facebook?” or “If there WAS no Facebook, how much effort would I make to maintain a friendship with this person? How much effort would they make to maintain a friendship with me?” While I was off of Facebook for a month, it became very apparent that some people were much more invested in my life than others were. I got emails, phonecalls, texts, comments on my blog, and invitations to playdates and get-togethers. Those people who made that extra effort were the ones who I was more likely to maintain on my friends lists. If we can go a whole month and not communicate at all, then why are we friends on Facebook?
- “What other options exist to keep in contact with this person outside of Facebook?” I was much more willing to hit the unfriend button if you have a blog that’s updated regularly and if you have followed my blog in the past. It’s nice to be able to stay connected with people and not just lose a friend completely, while still having a way to keep my online time balanced. Reading half a dozen posts from a dear friend each month is much more limited, but still such a blessing!
- “What is the overall lifestyle and attitude of this person as it comes out in Facebook? How is this person edifying me and helping me become a better person?” Chronic complaining, blatant support of immoral behavior, skanky photos, partying, and swearing are things I’ve just decided to not put up with on my friends list anymore. I want to surround myself with people that are going to lift me up, not discourage me.
- Other kinds of questions: “How much do we have in common?” “How long have I known this person?” “What kind of history do we have both in real life and cyber-life?” “Would I want to sit down and have coffee and a long conversation with this person?”
I know that might not explain everything, but it’s the best I can do for an explanation. For some people, the decision was very easy. For others, it was very hard and I sometimes question if I did the right thing. But above all, if you have been affected by my decision, know this… it’s JUST FACEBOOK!! It’s not some serious personal or emotional rejection. It’s one teeny little website that should not define who we are or what kind of friendship we have with people. Sometimes, we are friends for a while and then life just moves on. And that’s okay. My email inbox is always open if you want to stay in better touch!
The second thing I would like to address is the matter of Facebook addiction. Have I just jumped back on and gone back to things the way they were? Well, in some ways, yes, but in other ways no. As far as the amount of time I spend on Facebook, that varies from day today. With my husband working longer hours I do find myself spending more time online. I often have to take a day off to reset myself if I can sense I’m getting too sucked into things. Some days my computer is open all day long and I’m checking frequently, but I find it so much easier to set it aside for a day or two because I know it’s not going to take me hours and hours just to catch up on what I missed. Sometimes in the morning I can catch up on posts from 8PM the night before in just a matter of minutes, which is such a relief! I feel a lot less guilt for spending time on Facebook now because I know that the people I’m connected with are true friends! I’m not spending hours and hourse of time not focused on my family for people who are just acquaintances that I’m connected to out of obligation.
I still post a lot of photos, but status updates from me are far less frequent. I try my best to stay away from “play-by-play” style updates (especially ones concerning food! lol) and save my posts for things that really matter. (80% of the time that means silly stuff that Ezra did!) I’ve also become a lot more picky in what blog articles I re-share.
I have also made it a point to try to spend more time interacting with people face to face than Facebook to Facebook. I try to schedule playdates and coffee breaks with friends locally so that I’m not just being a hermit in my house connecting with people over a computer screen. When I interact with these people IRL, I try to engage them further about things they have posted on Facebook, and when I’m on Facebook I try to really pay attention to their postings so that when it comes time to see them, we have more to talk about than just the weather or our kids.
I also guard myself from the temptations to build up my Facebook with more friends. Before all of this started, anytime I met someone new my first question was to ask “do you have a Facebook?” Now, I don’t mention it. Why? Because it doesn’t really matter. Just because I meet someone at a coffee date or even go to church with them doesn’t mean that I NEED to be Facebook friends with them. They may end up just being an acquaintance and then I have to go through the whole awkward bit of unfriending them in the future. I try to work to establish a personal connection with people outside of Facebook FIRST, and then in time if I feel we would benefit from a Facebook connection, initiate it then (or better yet, wait for them to initiate it with me.)
I think that I will probably always struggle with bits of addiction to online interaction (I’m considering getting rid of my smartphone next time our contract is up, but that’s another post…), but all in all I feel like I’ve made some serious improvements. I am still incredibly thankful that God allowed men to create the internet and am thankful for the opportunities that it has provided me to create and maintain good solid friendships.
To ALL my readers and cyber-friends (past and current, Facebook or not)…I love you ALL!