Monday, January 7, 2013

My Facebook Diet

No Muffins, this is not a new way I found to lose weight through Facebook. I mean that even though diets supposedly don’t work, I need to do some severe restriction. By the end of this week I am deleting Facebook apps from all of my mobile devices. The only time I will be able to go on Facebook is if I’m home for a stretch of time and have the time to turn on the desktop computer to play, and don’t have Kevin interrupting me to say he needs the computer for something more important than Facebook.

At the beginning of the year I just made a New Year’s Resolution not to put any political posts on Facebook. I know I have a large group of like-minded friends who enjoy them. I also know I have collected a fairly diverse group of friends in the online space who aren’t always as like-minded. I’m cool with that. It keeps the world interesting. Unfortunately I have noticed a few unfriendings along the way and I’m sure many more have deleted me from their feeds. What’s the point of being connected to over 300 people if they’re ignoring you anyway? Then I have to deal with the people who want to “bait” me and always seem to be gunning for a debate, which I think is a pointless exercise since internet debates are almost always just about one side trying to prove itself correct and never does a friendship any good. As much as I love sharing certain things, it was time to put an end to it.

That made me start to really examine why I’m on Facebook in the first place. The main reason is I do love the fun of interacting with all sorts of people on a daily basis. The people I talk to most on Facebook have become a whole new subset of friends for me. I adore my daily Facebook gang. On the other hand, I really have become reliant on their company. I am constantly checking Facebook for updates. I think I react more with my Facebook gang than I do with my family or even my husband sometimes.

I also find that every action I make, every thought I have, must be made into a Facebook status. It feels as if I always have to have an arsenal of witty observations to share. I fell into that trap years ago when I first started my blog on MySpace. I began to feel as if I were living my life in blogs and not really being present in my own life. All I was thinking of was how I was going to blog about whatever was happening to me. What’s worse is that I am under the delusion that people care. Sure I do receive a lot of “likes” when I say something clever, but no one needs to know what I had for breakfast (unless it’s some special recipe I stick on my food blog), how I feel about the weather, or the hygiene habits of the person sitting next to me on the train.

There is also a more sinister reason why I’m so addicted to Facebook. I’m addicted to the attention. I have been an attention seeker my whole life. When I open a Facebook page, I’m not just looking for my friends’ updates. I want to see how many people have responded to me. I want to see how many “likes” I get for my clever and witty status updates. I want to confirm how many of my friends are Dr. Who fans. I want the world to know just how special and different I am. I realized that I am starting to believe that I am holding court on my Facebook page, as if I have convinced myself that I am a queen entertaining her adoring subjects.

I should be the one to know my constant love of attention can backfire. When you do whatever you want for attention, the attention you get isn’t always what you want. That’s a lesson I should have learned in school. I have shown a fair amount of restraint in the past couple of years both in Facebook posts and my blogs, but the little demon comes out now and then.

The biggest fallout of Facebook though is how it is actually creating distance, rather than closeness, with my friends in real life. The most communication I seem to have with my closest friends is through Facebook posts. We all share a lot of the trivial stuff on Facebook, but there is much we don’t share. There are personal stories that we don’t want to broadcast to the world at large, but do want to share with friends, but somehow that isn’t communicated anymore. It’s amazing how little I know about my best friends these days. It goes both ways. For example there was a big upheaval in my family a few months ago. It didn’t affect me negatively, so I wasn’t desperate to talk about it with someone, but I know that if I were in regular, personal contact via phone, email, or snailmail, I would have told my friends all about it as soon as it happened. Instead it was months before some of them knew the story and I’m not sure all of them know it now. It works in reverse as well.  I read surprising things from my friends and wonder what's going on, but I just assume Facebook will eventually explain everything rather than just typing up an email or picking up the phone. My friends and I all think that as long as we’re talking on Facebook every day that there is no need to catch up, but it seems to me that Facebook has left us farther behind.

I also have another big project in the pipelines for 2013. If it comes to pass, I hope to be devoting more online time to it. I will certainly be blogging about it if it happens.

My blogs will remain and I’ll still post them on Facebook for those who like to read it and want to be notified of a posting. Yes, many of them will be political. I will also update photos on Facebook so you can all envy my fabulous life. :-) I will also be maintaining the Facebook page for my food blog.

Anyway, while I enjoy seeing a diversity of posts (even if some of them irk me and cause me to blog about how much they irk me), when one of the progressive pages I subscribe to tells me there is a page called "Ted Nugent for President", I know it's time to pack it in.  Facebook has just gone over the edge.

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