Life Without Facebook

Dear friends, I am so sorry I’ve been lame about posting of late. I’ve come down with a severe case of Writer’s Suckitude With a Side of Blocked Writing Ducts, which has caused all my attempts at posting to sound remarkably like something a drunken bum would scrawl on a wall in an alley with a piece of plaster while singing a sea shanty. See what I mean? But since those who won’t do eventually can’t do, or something like that, I’m going to try to crank out something that indicates the author is semi-literate until I can get to the point of writing something that’s actually readable. Thanks for sticking with me in the meantime.

Several days ago, I logged out of Facebook for the last time this semester, should I be willing to actually stick with a commitment for the first time in my life (and all my friends and family said, “Yeah, right”).

I did it because we were encouraged to give up something for the semester in our Addictions class; it’s not particularly fair to ask clients to do things you refuse to do. It’s recommended that you give up the first thing that comes to your mind that you reject as being too hard to give up.

Facebook wasn’t it.

I considered giving up refined sugar, but I don’t really eat that much sugar. Except for the ice cream I had for dinner last night. *ahem* (Denial, what?).

Then I thought about giving up peanut butter; if there is one substance in my life of which I consume too much and with which I am completely obsessed, it’s peanut butter. On Saturday morning I bought a new jar of my favorite store-bought peanut butter (Smucker’s Natural Crunchy, because with a name as awkward as Smucker’s, it had better be good). Monday night found me in my favorite sweats, polishing off the little bit of that sucker that was left with a spoon. I were to draw a nutritional pyramid for myself, peanut butter would be the base of it, where the CNPP recommends that bread go; it would probably take up the meat section, too, and 2-3 servings of the fruit section.

Despite my obsession with the stuff, though, I don’t think my love stems from the taste and the relatively good nutrition (compared to other convenience foods) it offers. As someone who eats nearly 2/3 of her meals on the go, I prize pack’n’carry food, and peanut butter is the ultimate in quick and convenient. Giving up that convenience right now would reduce me to spending my meal times counting my ribs (or maybe just finding my ribs). Either way, it can’t happen, at least not if I plan to graduate without a severe case of malnutrition. (One could argue that I’m flirting with malnutrition due to my high peanut butter consumption, but why would one willingly put oneself at risk of being slapped in the face?)

Next, I considered giving up caffeine. I could give up caffeine. It’d be hard, but it honestly wouldn’t be debilitating. Despite all my talk about sock coffee and Turkish tea, I tend to be more of a social drinker; and sadly enough, I’m not out with friends enough to be at risk for even caffeine intoxication, much less caffeine abuse.

Finally, I thought about Facebook. I know I gave up Facebook for a month last fall. And it felt lame to try it again. But our professor defined addiction as the ability to stop a behavior. . .and stay stopped. And that’s what I’m aiming for now.

My goal is to wean myself entirely off Facebook, if possible. It may not be. It may turn out that Facebook is such an integral part of life in these United States (and this world) that trying to do so will amount to completely social isolation. We’ll see what I discover over the semester.

In the meantime, here are my reasons for choosing Facebook as my drug of giving-up choice:

1) Facebook is to intimacy what porn is to sex. It’s a quick fix for something that actually takes time and effort and energy. Sure, it can be useful as a means of saying hello to someone; but since ‘leaving’ Facebook, I’ve found that I appreciate sending little emails or text messages as ways to connect with people. It may seem to equate to the same thing, but I’m not sure it does; see, on Facebook, I can spend 20 minutes at a time cruising around until I suddenly see someone’s profile and think, “Oh hey, I should tell them I miss them!” When I text or email someone, I do it intentionally. It’s because I was already thinking about that person and actually missing her that I want to connect, not because her face happened to flash across my screen and I suddenly remembered her existence.

Since giving up Facebook, I also have more time to just sit and chat with people; and I’ve never turned from a living person before me to cruise through the caricatures of people on Facebook, as I’ve been tempted to do in the past.

2) It’s such a time-sucker. I don’t know how many hours of my life I’ve spend mindlessly flipping through the photos and notes of acquaintances; I think I’d be humiliated by the number. I want those hours back.

3) Facebook promotes the idea I already cling to far too hard–the idea that life is about me. Since joining Facebook, I seem to have garnered something of a reputation for being. . .dare I say. . .funny? But here’s a secret: everyone can be funny if they spend enough time walking through life composing Facebook statuses in their heads. I’m not as funny, insightful, or even as obnoxious as Facebook might lead you to believe.

I’ve started to allow Facebook to function as an integral cog in my identity development, and I’m growing increasingly disillusioned under the weight of carrying this pseudo-identity I’ve created. Some people love me just because of Facebook; sometimes people approach me seemingly under the delusion that humor and insight will spew forth if they just stare at me long enough or poke me in the bellybutton, and while I can guarantee that a verbal deluge will certainly spew forth if strangers touch my bellybutton, I can also assure you that it won’t be funny. Or insightful. Other people apparently approach me in the fear that I will give them one glance and then incise their very existences with my razor sharp Northern humor (in reality, I’m thinking, “I want peanut butter./Am I blushing?/I wish I could remember his name. But man, his philosophy sure looks cute in those jeans“).

But despite the fact that I have so strategically weeded my stable of Facebook friends that the feedback I get from that venue regarding my worth as a human being is overwhelmingly positive, I would rather give people a fair opportunity to appraise me based on actual contact. (Some of you may point out to me the glaring hypocrisy of running a blog, based on that logic. It’s a fair critique, but I believe that I’ve been given a gift and passion for writing, and while I’m in this season of my life, blogging is the one of the few outlets I have to exercise that gift).

So how is it going, you may ask? Well, it was going fine until tonight, when I rationalized logging in with classic addict excuses (“One time won’t hurt. I deserve it. My defenses are down. I’m tired. I want peanut butter. Is my philosophy showing?”). I logged in, felt connected to people for 3.25 seconds, thought, “Man, this isn’t all that interesting,” and then proceeded to mentally lacerate myself for having logged in the first place. So far, so good. I’ll try to keep you updated on any new developments as the semester progresses. In the meantime, may your Facebooking go well with you.

PS: Since I’m off Facebook, I won’t get any of your comments on my writing if they are left on my Facebook wall. That’s not a problem from my perspective, but if at any point you would like to interact with a post in a way that requires a timely response, just leave me a comment on my actual blog site; it’s not as intimidating as it looks, and I will definitely respond.

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14 thoughts on “Life Without Facebook

  1. Lauren. I’ll keep it brief. To the average North American whose family and circle of friends live within a 5-mile radius, Facebook may indeed be an unnecessary and redundant form of communication easily replaced by phone and face-to-face conversation. But…to an MK whose family and friends live across borders and continents, Facebook is one of the rare tools we have that allows us to remain connected and engaged despite vast distances. I’d suggest you “unaddict” yourself from something that is less vital to the long-distance relationships that are inherent (and so very important) to a TCK’s life. Go with sugar.

    1. I would love to dialogue with you about this, Mich! To be honest, keeping up long distance relationships, with or without Facebook, is one of my weak points; I have the tendency to check my relationships at the exit door, which is entirely ironic, considering all my big talk of intimacy. I would love to get your input with regard to healthy uses of Facebook for relationship maintenance. How do you utilize Facebook, and how what unique benefits does Facebook bring to the table for relationship maintenance? How can one navigate the dangers of Facebook (ie: maintaining old friendships to the neglect of new, face-to-face ones, the envy that can so often crop up when looking at another person’s well-maintained Facebook image, creating one’s own false identity) while deriving the benefits thereof? I would love to hear your thoughts, and I’m sure both my readers and myself would benefit from them.

  2. I won’t be talking with you this semester until you get back on facebook. Mark Zuckerberg has suffered through a lot (and continues to get sued) so that you can have this amazing gift of a website. Please appreciate it and stop spitting in his face.

    1. Oh, well if you put it that way, Zach. . .you know I make it a priority to live in such a way that disgustingly wealthy rumored-to-be-jerks are not even slightly inconvenienced.

    1. Well, Uncle Brad, I think there are a variety of heart issues that could potentially be motivating one’s use of Facebook (that is not to say that Facebook is evil, or eveyone who uses it does so with bad motives–just that the possibility of bad Facebook-related motivations does exist; the overarching one I identify in myself probably has to do with idolatry (of self, utilizing Facebook to bolster my ego). It also probably has something to do with my own intimacy-related fears; it’s a lot easier to assuage intimacy needs through quick Facebook fixes than through the nitty-gritty of real relationships. I don’t know if that could/is a form of idolatry, as well. . .? I’ll have to keep thinking about it, but good question! I’d love to hear any insights you may have!

  3. Lauren, I’ve had many of the same thoughts about/struggles with Facebook myself. I do agree with Michele that it helps to keep in touch with people far away, though. I have had to limit myself as regards to FB. I will add any of my REAL friends (here or far) but mainly use it to keep up with friends who don’t live here. An encouraging note now and again for someone nearby who might nead it, but other than that I prefer to actually take the time to call or visit friends around me. For those who are far away it’s nice to feel as though I can “see” who they are through the daily things that I might know if I lived near enough. The pictures are great. My rule is though, that I can only log on once a day (I’m not exactly great at following my own rules, but they’re there just in case!) and I can’t scroll through posts any later than today. If it was yesterday, buh-bye, sorry I missed it! Pics may only be looked at if I’m going to take the time to write the person about them. Those guidelines help me to not waste time flipping through a million pics of my best friend’s boy friend’s brothers basketball coach’s wedding = ) Just some thoughts from both sides of the line!! Excellent post, btw!!

    1. Really good guidelines, Sarah! Thanks for sharing. I appreciate hearing from people who have more self-control than I with regard to Facebook; it gives me hope that it is possible!

  4. First of all, Lauren, let me assure you that you are every bit as funny, insightful, and even as obnoxious as Facebook would lead me to believe. This is why I bring you fruit. (Although it only occurs to me now that bringing you bananas thoroughly reinforces the idea that you are a monkey whose sole purpose is to entertain me.*)
    I can relate to most of your issues on some level, but for me, the “pros” for outweigh the “cons”; It reminds me to pray for people, or get in touch with them (I still need to call Zach, but I promise it’d be much worse if I didn’t have his wife’s posts reminding me of that), and it’s an exciting way to learn new things about people that might not come up in conversation. (The kind of stuff I have almost-perfect recall on, not that tertiary nonsense like “how many living parents does Jeremy have?” [although it is nice to sometimes get reminders of the important stuff I forget])
    It occurs to me now how creepy that might seem, but I don’t care. I just love to know people.

    *You are not a monkey. You are a wonderful person brimming with importance. (Most of which is derived from entertaining me)

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