Sunday, October 27, 2013

My fight with Facebook

     I've had a Facebook account for about five and a half years now. I built my profile just before going off to Bolivia in the late spring of 2008, and just after buying Djimii, my beloved djembe. My Facebook account is older than my oldest nephew Jonathan, and over the past five years it has been a platform for new friendships, the renewal of old relationships, and the construction of a much stronger and vaster network of contacts than I had in the past.
This little thing takes up the rest of my time.
     It's healthy, though, to take a step back once in a while.
     A typical day of mine begins with my phone ringing me awake. I stop the ringer (after 45 minutes or so) and check all the notifications I received while I slept. Once those are exhausted, I hop in the shower for a minute or two, and often check my phone the second I step out. I check it again after I'm dressed, and once or twice on the way to Starbucks before work.
     While waiting in line for my fancy latte, I might pull out the phone, but I'll certainly check it again at the first stop light I reach after leaving the cafe. and should it buzz or pop or jingle, back in my hand it goes.
     Wait, really?
     I haven't even gotten to work yet and I've looked at my phone - and especially Facebook - one, two, threeee.... seven times or more.
     For those of us who have smart phones, this habit becomes more or less part of our routine. Heck, I grew up without television and didn't have a phone until I was 21 years of age, and I still do it. For whatever reason, the need to be connected and immersed is desperate.
     Taking stock of my social media accounts - which I've noticed has become a twisted source of pride - I realize exactly how overwhelmed I've become, and something needs to change. I still want that tattoo I mentioned a few months back, but even a permanent marking isn't enough. It doesn't solve the problem.
     The issue, as I see it, is boundaries (thanks, Anna). If we - meaning I - fail to set boundaries, of course things like Facebook can overrun my life. It might sound like 'overrun' is a little bit of an exaggeration, but when it becomes difficult to ignore the little jingle or wait to check the flashing tab, there's a problem.
     I'm not sure how to solve it. I deactivated my Facebook for about a week so I could think about it's necessity, and I've settled on a few things.
Firstly, the Facebook app is staying off of my phone. That keeps me from constantly checking to see what new cat picture my friends have posted. Secondly, I know I need to look for something wholesome to take its place. Not another app, not Netflix (which is my downfall), but something productive and useful.
     Those options do nothing to fix the craving. They only bury the symptoms, and the dependence on connectivity will only continue to rot and fester unless I can put that want in a box and leave it there if need be. It has no power but what I give to it, and I've relinquished too much. That trend needs to be reigned in.
     I don't know what that looks like. I'll make excuses, I'm sure, but living a life where my relationships are built on face-to-face contact makes for a bright and desirable future, and it's that reality which I cling to.


  1. When I finally got a smart phone I refused to put Facebook on it... I knew how much of a time waste it would be. It's bad enough I already check Facebook on my computer every couple minutes when I'm on it, putting it on my phone would have been ridiculous. I'm happy I didn't... :P

  2. I definitely think it's gonna stay this way.