I haven’t been on Facebook that long. I really just started using it on a regular basis about a year ago – even then I started out slow, posting only about once or twice a day, posting my personal pics, etc. After about 4 months you get sucked in and your occasional visit to post your child’s graduation pics or review a great restaurant turns into liking, commenting, messaging, ignoring, searching for just the right birthday quote, sending out prayers/positive thoughts/etc…. you get the picture. Maybe you have been there too, or you’re there right now. We thought it was a great way to keep up with the long-distance family members or the long lost childhood friend, we heard our family members talk up the virtues of finding the perfect recipe, following their friends sport teams, hearing about funny or miraculous events; so we dove in head first and arms wide open waiting for bounty that Facebook would bestow upon us.
But instead it became, quite literally, our Universe. We have the app on our phone, we have it bookmarked on our computers and I know one lady at my son’s dentist office who uses Facebook for any and all communication. Having a birthday party? No need to send out physical invites, you can use Facebook for that. Having the family over for Thanksgiving dinner? Use Facebook to coordinate the menu. I heard someone in the office ask her about her plans for a long weekend and she said “I will be putting our agenda on Facebook, you can see it tonight.” Really? She can’t just right then and there tell her co-worker what her plans are? Apparently, not.
Now I get it, not everyone is this extreme with their Facebook use, but I think some of us will never truly see how encompassing Facebook is in our lives until we step away from it. Will that be easy? I propose that the more engaged your life is within the Facebook “universe” the harder you will find it to ground yourself to your own personal earth and refrain from “checking in”.
Removing the Facebook app from my phone was my first step. After that I stopped “Liking” stuff; not because I didn’t like what people said (most of the time I did) but because I wanted to phase out my activity. Also, by not “Liking” posts you will change the way you see posts on your timeline (as the opposite is true: the more you “Like” the more Facebook dictates what you see/feel). See these articles about how what you Like can determine what you see and feel – the articles are brilliant and enlightening:
I can’t even begin to tell you (well, okay, I probably could) how many times I saw distasteful, negative things crawling up my timeline. The decision to walk away, albeit slowly and methodically, has been freeing and I’m actually looking forward to being more present and intentional with my communications and correspondence with others. Here’s my plan:
- I’m going to get physical about correspondence. I am actively searching for just the right stationery so I can experiment with actually mailing my thoughts and well-wishes to my family and close friends. It’s also very creative – I can even make my own via venues such as Zazzle!
- I plan to put more of my thoughts – both the good and the bad – on my blogs. People can choose to read my blogs or ignore them, so I feel more genuine about my writing on my blogs. On Facebook, I found myself holding back in light of my “Friends” views and cultural differences — and holy cow were some of them ever different!
- I already have a Flickr and Instagram account, so I will utilize those for my pics and photography so that family members who do not have email or texting capabilities (yes, my sisters still live in 1998) will be able to see everything via someone’s smart phone or I can send them to a Walgreens in their area where they can pick them up at their convenience.
- Email is my best friend (next to Google), so if family/friends have email we will be connected!
- I do plan to check in with my Facebook at least once a month to check in on those family members and friends who are exclusive to Facebook. I get it, some people love Facebook and if you aren’t on Facebook they may never know if you still walk the face of the earth or not. In light of this I will check in with their Facebook profile pages each month to get current photos, births, wedding announcements, etc.
The bottom line: I just want to be in total control of what I see and read in my universe. Unfortunately, Facebook does not allow that kind of democracy. So how about you? Is Facebook your Universe? No? Can you turn it off… cold turkey? You might be surprised.