"Get Outta My Face"-book
This post has been brewing in my head for a few weeks. I have mulled it over, then pushed it aside. I have thought about it while walking Sofie and doing housework and going grocery shopping and then chosen to ignore it yet again. I have shared some of my concerns/thoughts with dear friends and then gone on with my busy life. But today I decided I was tired of thinking about it, and I just needed to do something already.
First, a little background: Somehow, (and to this day I'm not sure how), I avoided Facebook for a very long time. I was busy with my blog and other fun internet things and I didn't realize what I was supposedly missing. Then one day last summer, I decided to take the plunge. I have no idea exactly what possessed me or what was the impetus for the "plunge", but I signed up for my very own Facebook account and the rest, as they say, is history.
I was hooked! Within days, hours even, I had connected with friends from college and high school. I spent hours corresponding with them, looking at their pictures, sending and receiving Flair buttons, and playing Word Twist. Evidently, I had nothing else important to do because, you know, we find time for those things that are important to us, and I sure found LOTS of time for Facebook!
As the months went by, I became less enamored and started feeling a slight, icky nagging about this whole Facebook phenomenon. True to form, I ignored it and plunged ahead. Naturally, I assumed, all of my "friends" were waiting with bated breath to read my status updates and see my beautiful children and know what books I was reading. And surely I wanted to know every last inane detail about their lives too------or did I?
And then I started really thinking about this Facebook thing and asking myself some questions. Seriously, do I need to know that T just made a gourmet meal for 1500 people? Do I care that P just did 8,000 sit ups after running 40 miles? Does it really matter to her 4,789,235 friends that H has to take the dog to the vet, stop by the dry cleaners, and get her oil changed today? Does anyone, anywhere EVER need to know that R just got back from the urologist or that B has a painful ingrown toenail? Is nothing sacred any more?
And, come on, how many "random things" do I truly need to know about that guy who sat behind me in one class for one semester in college? And those quizzes------how did I ever survive for 40 years without knowing what type of flower I am, what Easter dress I should buy, or what Sesame Street character I am most like? And while I'm venting, I might as well admit right now that if you've ever sent me a green patch request, a mixed drink, a twirl invitation, a dessert, or some other "thingamabob"----I've ignored you. There, I've said it. Now you know the whole ugly truth.
The saying used to go The eyes are the windows to the soul, but I'm pretty sure that, in this day and age, that would more appropriately read Facebook is the window to the soul, and the bathroom, and the gym, and the laundry room, etc. I'm thinking that they shouldn't be called "status updates" but "brag updates" or "fish for compliments updates". Many days I think the site should be called "In Your Face-book" as it seems people just enjoy the opportunity to show off and self-promote. Or maybe "Two Faced Book" would be more appropriate--as it seems so many people misrepresent themselves to others. And don't even get me started on all the "mushiness"--some days it's like one big happy mutual admiration society.
And what about the term "friends"? There used to be a time when that word meant something, but not anymore. In the world of Facebook, a "friend" can be barely an acquaintance, someone I've passed once or twice in the hallway at church, someone who saw me buying toilet bowl cleaner at the grocery store, a middle schooler who thinks he knows my son. And what about the people who I thought were my friends but haven't "friend requested" me or people who want to be my "friends" who I choose to ignore? Or, worse, people who are friends on Facebook but actually meet and do things in real life but don't include me? Oh, the horror!!! It's like high speed junior high--and I don't know about you, but I'd rather not revisit junior high. Once was enough.
Last month, just before Lent began, I read a thought-provoking blog post that drove all of this home for me and helped me to think about, pray about, and seriously reevaluate my "need" for Facebook. Honestly, I don't think Facebook, in and of itself, is a bad thing, but I do think, like anything else, it gets used and misused in many ways. As I've been evaluating/re-evaluating/ and thinking about this for myself (and I freely admit that I am as guilty at the next guy), I've narrowed it down to a few core issues:
1. Time--I spend enough time on the internet. Is Facebook a wise use of that time or just another thing that prevents me from caring for my home properly, spending time deepening my relationships with REAL LIFE friends, spending time with God?
2. Intent--Why is Facebook so fun for me? Do I genuinely want/need to know all these things about people or am I just being nosy/voyeuristic and are all my "friends" doing the same with me? Does Facebook make me greedy/envious/jealous as I read about all the things my "friends" have, do, see, etc? Am I trying to make my "friends" greedy/envious/jealous when I post things?
3. Godliness--One of my biggest beefs is the opportunity that Facebook provides for us to circumvent those pesky (albeit scriptural!) conflict resolution principles. If someone offends us--on Facebook or anywhere--we no longer have to deal with it in the way God commanded, we can just stew about it, get angry, and then "unfriend" them!!! That'll show 'em!! And, best of all, they don't even KNOW we've unfriended them. How handy is that snazzy FB feature when you are irked with someone? And how easy is it to say things--good and bad--that we would NEVER say to someone's face? I've often wondered: would Jesus have a Facebook account??
I guess for me it has all come down to this: Is Facebook strengthening my walk with God or hampering it? Is my Facebook subscription "sharpening" my friendships, relationships, etc. or erecting barriers in those relationships instead? Maybe this is simply a lack of discipline on my part. After all, too much of ANYthing can be a bad thing. Am I just taking it too seriously?
I haven't completely landed on the answer yet. The only conclusion I HAVE reached is that I will be "paring" down my Facebook account in every way: less "friends", less time, less mental energy. If you're the lady who saw me buying toilet bowl cleaner or the guy I passed in the hallway at church, I apologize in advance, but you probably won't make the cut, and I will definitely be more choosy about confirming friend requests in the future (If I ever get any after this rant!). I'm determining to rule my Facebook account rather than letting it rule me. Care to join me?