So, I took the plunge this summer and finally deleted my Facebook account after a few years of reluctant use. Originally becoming a member because my BFF refused to e-mail me pictures any longer, I succumbed to the peer pressure. When Instagram became available as a photo sharing site with brief accompanying descriptions (and after my fourteen-year-old neighbor set up my account for me), I now had my opportunity to exit. Yes! I held on as a Facebooker for a while longer because I administered a page for a women’s blog at church. When this blog went belly up, my obligations ceased, and I severed my association with Facebook.
For me personally, this was the right decision. My e-mail is no longer congested with invites to play such-and-such game or with Facebook reminders telling me I am “missing out on so-and-so’s latest post.” I enjoy my lean e-mail inbox now which frees me up for more quality time with my family and friends.
In addition, I no longer have to deal with angry people who do not seem to have a sense of control over what they write to other people behind the security of their keyboard. Has everyone forgotten the saying . . .
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!
On Facebook, I have witnessed people typing some of the most vile words to one another. When did this become okay in our society or rather the norm? To me it seemed as if there are a lot of people out there who are ticking time bombs just looking for any reason to engage in an argument with another person.
Case in point . . . on a religious site no less (am I the only person who expects religious people to be kind?), a person posted a story about a pastor disguising himself as a homeless person before attending church. He then wrote of how the majority of the congregation lacked empathy for him, but rather turned their backs on him. When I then replied to said post with something to the effect of, “The Methodist church in San Francisco feeds X number of homeless people.” The person who shared the original post replied, “Let’s not make this a theological debate.” Okay . . . I posted this information about said church not because I was trying to engage in a debate, but because my family and I had just returned from San Francisco.
Case in point . . . a breast cancer survivor, I dealt with the entire ordeal with lots and lots of humor. This is how I roll. It was either this or tears, and there was not much opportunity for the latter with a three and five-year-old in the house. I needed to reassure them Momma was going to be okay despite the fact she spent a good chunk of 2011 and 2012 in the hospital. Thus, those who know me know I embrace the light-hearted approach to breast cancer. So, when a friend posted a Mammo-Graham snack recipe (an ideal means of explaining prevention to little kiddos) to my wall, I shared it with one of my survival groups. In addition to several “Likes,” one person wrote an essay explaining how insensitive I was and how breast cancer was not a joke. Of course, this wounded me to the core because as a breast cancer survivor, I KNOW it is no laughing matter, but I do think laughter is conducive to healing, at least for me personally. In fact, the hub and I took “the girls” (my ta tas) on a final vacation to Chicago immediately prior to my double mastectomy. We documented their final hurrah by taking their pictures at every location we visited.
More importantly, what I find disturbing is how much Facebook seems to prevent quality, focused time.
Case in point . . . I teach writing to college freshmen. When a bright student turned in a handwritten rough draft, I asked why he did not utilize the computer as a revision tool which heavily expedites the writing process (believe me, I went to school using an electric typewriter for papers, and I had to write a lot of them). He told me if he used the computer he was constantly distracted by Facebook. I still did not understand being that I had to intentionally log in to Facebook if I ever made use of it. He said his Facebook automatically popped up on his screen. I then replied, “Log out of it while you compose your papers.” His response was something to the effect of how trying to remember that many passwords would be too difficult.
Case in point . . . with two young children, we visit a lot of child-friendly locales where I witness a plethora of parents looking down at their cellphones instead of savoring these moments with their children. My girls have recently undergone a growth spurt which has had a bittersweet effect on me. Sweet in that they are healthy, happy young girls, but bittersweet in that I have come to understand especially in this past year how quickly this time with our children passes, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.
Early this past summer, I was in the McDonald’s restroom waiting for my girls when a middle-aged woman came in to mop the floors at the same time a young mother studying her cellphone exited while her young children were trying to gain her attention. The employee and I exchanged pleasantries and then she commented, “I don’t know how to use a cellphone, but it doesn’t matter because I can’t afford one. I see people on them all the time in the play area when their kids are trying to get their attention.”
To me, this was a profound statement on so many levels which instigated my deletion of Facebook. I was never one to scroll through posts while with others, but I was usually the one tinkering with my phone trying to figure out how to post and tag a picture until I eventually would give up out of frustration or due to a locked-up phone.
Not only when considering quality time with children, I have observed how it interferes with physical face time with other adults. A friend told me the only time she hears from another person is through a mass invite via Facebook. Another friend said an RSVP was never answered to her child’s birthday party, but the person in question found the time to constantly post pictures of herself on her Facebook wall. I have been with friends on planned get-togethers, and they will be engrossed in their phones rather than involved in the here and now which makes me wonder, “What is so important that it can’t wait until you are home?” or “Am I really that boring?” I then break into an inner monologue much like John Candy’s in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, “I like me. My hub likes me. My squirts like me.”
Perhaps it’s a generational issue . . . I feel as if I’m an old soul at heart and now chronologically. I like the written word, and ooh and aah over cards found in my mailbox. Several of my friends are not on Facebook and have never even expressed an interest, “I don’t do that sh%t!” as my author friend once eloquently told me.
Whatever the case may be, I think I hear my kiddos stirring, so I am off for now in order to spend some quality time with my girls.