In my post 2011: The Year of Recovery I indicated part of my ‘recovery process’ from two big moves in less than three years was to use Facebook less this year. Currently this is made easier by the fact that we have no internet access at home yet and probably won’t for a while. Even when we’re at last connected to the World Wide Web again, it’s a ban I intend to stick to.
That probably sounds bizarre to those people who know me to an avid user of the Facebook beast with at least one status update every day, except when I’m away on holidays or our internet has crashed. I’ve stated before that because we are so isolated, it is often my window to the outside world because it’s not like a lot of people would bother to keep in touch otherwise. Well, times have changed and Duncan is in full support of my self-imposed ban and intends to keep me accountable. Here are some reasons why I think this is necessary for my own peace of mind and godliness:
People being ungodly
I’m often shocked at what some people write on Facebook, and I don’t just mean ranting or people who are honest about their personal struggles (I quite appreciate the honesty in a world of fakeness). It’s like some people forget that what they write is not in a private diary with a lock, but online and read by however many friends they have. I’ve seen Christians write stuff like, I’m drunk hehehe or I’m watching *insert movie title here* and perving on *insert actor’s name here* or just swearing in their status updates. Hmmm. This stuff could potentially be read by several hundred people, including their pastor, people in their church, and their boss. I would have thought if people wanted to live ungodly lives, they would do it in secret (not that that makes it better). Why put it on Facebook for all to see?
People wanting attention
Now this isn’t a bad thing in itself. I greatly appreciated Karen’s article about Facebook usage and how there is an inbuilt desire within each of us to be loved, noticed and appreciated (what she calls 'recognition hunger'). I know I certainly want all of those things. There is nothing wrong with writing that you’re sick, depressed, lonely, lost a loved one or experienced some other misfortune. It is normal to expect some others to commiserate with you. Mourn with those who mourn, so to speak.
What I have a gutful of is chronic attention-seekers who either are so blatant in their pursuit of attention I feel embarrassed for them, or who offer little or no sympathy to anyone else. I can think of two friends in particular who are constant Facebook users (multiple status updates per day), and who have experienced hard times recently. I have sympathised with them, I comment on many of their statuses, I even post them things in the mail to cheer them up. But rarely do they offer me a comment in return. I was particularly annoyed when I announced on Facebook that my Nan had passed away and one of the people I mentioned updated her status minutes later. That means I’m guessing that she would have seen my status among the recent ones on her news feed. I have had several more statuses since then about Nan, but I have not heard a peep from either of these people, even though they are constantly online. The worst thing was that one of these friends has recently lost two loved ones herself so I thought she would empathise. I thought they were quite good friends of mine, but recently I decided to stop letting them know personally about things that were happening in my life because I never got any response. Oh well, it just means that I know what sort of people they really are, and now I won’t be giving them the attention they crave. I certainly don’t want a repeat of feelings I felt when I wrote Friday Focus: Mourning with the Mourning. It just means I have learnt my lesson and moved on. Funny how it took Facebook to reveal what some people are really like though when I thought it was easier to be fake online than it is in real life.
People are often different online to what they are in real life
Again, this isn’t a bad thing in itself. Some shy people find the written form easier (myself being one of them). I have no qualms with people being more confident online than they are in real life. What I do have a problem with however is cowardly people hiding behind their monitors and saying things they would never dare to say in real life. I’ve known some people for years before Facebook came along and thought them to be mature, thoughtful people. Facebook shows another side.
People don’t think before they write
This partly falls under the previous point. I have been shocked by what some people write on their own statuses, but in the end, I really don’t care as much as I do when they write thoughtless, offensive things on MY status or wall. This is one of the major reasons I am using Facebook less. To be frank, I’m sick and tired of people who write stupid or inconsiderate things. I’m fed up with not being able to write what I want without considering what some smart arse will write in response. I’m dumbfounded how people can be so thoughtless. Some have apologised and I have forgiven them, but it appears some others will never learn. One of my close friends was telling me the other week that she has nearly fallen into this trap herself. She doesn’t use Facebook all that often, but when she does, she told me she started writing on other people’s statuses without thinking, then re-read what she’d written and promptly deleted it, horrified at how inconsiderate she was being. Now my friend is one of the loveliest, kindest people you could meet, and if she’s tempted to write crap on Facebook, then may the Lord help the rest of us! It’s like Facebook bewitches normally nice people and turns them into heartless fools. But in reality, I know that’s not true. The real problem is not Facebook, but sin, and this is just another way for sin to manifest itself. It’s strange how people think what they write online has no repercussions though. It’s time some people applied the Take 5 principle to Facebook.
Flee from temptation
It’s too tempting for me to use the online medium for all of those things. Honestly, I like using Facebook for recognition, to know that people still care about me, that they are interested in my life. I like connecting and re-connecting, offering advice, sympathy or rejoicing with those experiencing happier times. But I’m also far too naïve for my own good. I always thought that if I drop my mask, it will encourage others to do the same, but I’m realising that only opens myself up to ridicule and rude comments. I’ve come to the hard conclusion that an element of fake, plastic happiness is necessary to survive in social media otherwise people will just use it against you. There have been a few times where Duncan has found me in tears or just greatly troubled due to something that someone wrote online. A couple of times he has gone in to bat for me before I have even read the comment myself. Facebook has taught me a lot about myself. I need love, attention, sympathy…but Facebook is not going to give it to me. I will continue to seek it from those who I know I have a real, genuine, give-take relationship with.
Where I’m at
Right now, I’m feeling pretty fragile. Everything is unfamiliar and I’m in the daunting process of meeting new people and looking for a part-time job. It’s tempting to go online to seek familiar faces. But recently Facebook has made me feel worse rather than better, and I have decided my blog is a far better place to focus on. It’s stupid but I just realised recently how much control I actually have over my Facebook profile. I can delete comments I don’t like, and I can even defriend people if they are really getting to me. And guess what? I’m also realising that ignoring idiots really does work! My mum wasn’t lying all those years. If they have no-one to laugh at them or give them any kind of response, they will slink away with their tails between their legs.
I will continue to respond to emails and Facebook messages when I am able. I figure that those who value my friendship will keep in touch via other means, and our relationship is not limited to Facebook. I will update my status from time to time, but I’m aiming to keep it pretty general. If you think I’m falling into old habits and using Facebook too much, then you’re welcome to drop me a line and politely tell me so. I mean that.