Friday, March 23, 2012

Facebook or Fakebook?

A few months ago, one of my best friends joined Facebook. I was thrilled because it'd be another way for us to keep in touch (since we moved, we now live 1000 miles from each other so I'm looking for any and every way to stay connected). You can imagine my disappointment to learn that she deactivated her account a week later. When I asked why, she responded, "Facebook makes me upset and angry." Hmmm.....what? How? And in the span of a week? I was confused but didn't want to push and decided it was best to just let it go.

But it never fully went.

For the past few months, I've been reading a lot of articles about the effects of social networking on the people who use it. I'm not on Twitter, SchoolFeed, LinkedIn, or the seemingly millions of others out there but I am pretty addicted to Facebook. In fact, I think the longest period of time I've ever gone without Facebook is one day. Pretty sad, huh? I got to thinking, what is it about Facebook that keeps me coming back for more day after day? Having recently moved, Facebook is an excellent way to keep in touch with friends back home. But so is phone calling, texting, email, and Skype. Why do I choose Facebook over the others? I think it's because 90% of the time, I'm NOT on Facebook to keep in touch with old friends. I'm on it to read what's going on in the lives of people I haven't seen in 20 years, see pictures of people's grandkids that I've never met, read complaints about dogs peeing all over furniture or how much someone hates his job, watch videos labeled "funny" but do not make me laugh (or even smile), and keep up on the latest celebrity or political gossip. Definitely time well spent, wouldn't you say?

The reality is, I have no way of knowing how much truth there is in what anyone writes on Facebook. The people who claim they're on top of the world with a wonderful spouse, three beautiful, well-behaved kids, two cats in the yard, a fantastic job, money out the wazoo, 75 degree weather every day, and zero stress or problems may in fact be telling the truth but who really knows? If life is truly that amazing, kudos to that person. That's awesome. But more realistically, some of what he's posted is sugarcoated. I'm noticing a lot of people post what they wish would happen instead of what is really happening. I'm not judging....just wondering why not post the truth?

I've found that the posts I make about silly or crazy things my kids do get much more attention than anything else. I believe that is because other parents can relate. It's nice to know your kids aren't the only ones who act up, you know? ;) I have no problem being honest on Facebook or in real life. What you see is what you get. Rob and I do not live the perfect life- far from it- but we're making the most of what we have and we're happy. That should count for something.

In some of the articles I've read, people mention that reading about others' lives makes them feel inadequate about their own. "Why don't I own a mansion like Todd?" "Why aren't I making six figures like Sandra?" "How come my kids don't go to top-of-the-line private schools?" "Why aren't I beautiful and thin like the girls from high school?" So instead of accepting where they're at in life and working to their fullest potential, they're wasting time being envious of others. And we don't know if what they've read about others is even true!

I guess what I'm saying is that while Facebook is a terrific way to keep in touch with people, there are aspects of it that aren't so positive. I'm tired of the political garbage and the whining. I'm tired of the comparisons. I'm tired of the gravitational pull it seems to have on me when my time should be spent on other, more productive tasks. And I'm tired enough to do something about it. I've decided to unplug for the weekend and see how much more I'm able to get done and how my mood changes. Is discovering what color Tina painted her nails crucial to my happiness in life? I think not. We'll see what happens on Monday.

Oh, and I'm very aware that this blog entry will automatically post on Facebook since we have the two pages connected. Gotta laugh at the irony of that. ;)

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