Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Biting the Hand That Feeds Me

I have a confession to make.

You're probably going to need to sit down for this one.

Okay, are you ready? Sitting down?

I only check my Facebook account once a week.

You weren't expecting that one now were you?

And you are probably reading this right now because you clicked on this post where I share it, on Facebook.

 I'm not opposed to Facebook by any means.  I actually love the idea of it.  It's helped me connect with old friends, stay in touch with family from a distance, and will be a huge help in planning my class reunion (in the future).

It's also a great tool for publicity and business.  I love sharing my ideas on Facebook and reading people's responses.  Actually, a lot of my friends stumbled upon this blog from Facebook.

But, I think Facebook has a dark side.

It can be a substitution for genuine relationships.  A replacement of face-to-face interactions.

What do you do when you're bored, lonely, or avoiding work?

Me? I checked Facebook.  Scrolling through pages and pages of News Feed, reading peoples statuses updates.  Looking at pictures.

Learning about what was going on in people's lives without even having to talk to them.

Oh, but I was really good at pretending I had.  When I stepped back into realty and met up with other friends I would talk and talk about what other people were up to.  All the information I obtained was from Facebook.

"Oh, yeah they just had a baby."

"Well they've moved to Florida."

"Can you believe his hair is that color?"

Talking about them just like they had called and told me themselves.  Like I was actually genuine friends with them.  Engaged in their lives.  In a real relationship.  Not an electronic one.

I was really just pretending.  Because it was easy.  Just following people, giving nothing in return.  No hardwork, or love, components required for real relationships.

So these past couple of weeks I've been trying to be mindful.  Of my time and my effort in relationships. Mindful of the distraction technology plays in my life.  Mike Donghai says it best:

"I’m mindful of the ways that technology encroaches on my life. The sneaky way it steals me away from the things I truly value. And even the way it alters human relationships and social networks."

I'm not saying cancel your Facebook account today.  I'm certainly not.

Remember, we're going for Simple not Crazy.

I'm hoping to stimulate us to start being mindful of our time and engage in genuine relationships with people.  Here are some simple things to try:

Be genuinely interested.  I read an article by Scott Dinsmore from the blog Reading for your Success.  It was about personally engaging people and not letting technology let you forget to be human.  Living in real, sometimes messy community with people is how we build lasting bonds with people.  Sometimes it's difficult, but definitely worth the journey.

Send them a Facebook message.  You can use Facebook to really connect with people.  I really like sending messages on Facebook.  It's more personal, deeper way to connect.

Limit your number of friends.  Great suggestion by Mike.  Are you really friends with the 798 Facebook friends you have?  Ask yourself why you decide to accept friend request.  Is it just to increase your number? Are your real friends getting lost in the masses?

Set a time limit.  This was a great tip from Tammy, she even suggest setting a timer.  Check out her post, she has great ideas about limiting your computer use in general.  You could even join me in a Facebook Diet, only logging on once a week.

Write a letter.  Pick up a pen and scratch out an encouragement note for a friend that is going through a rough patch.  Or send someone a thank you note for just being awesome.  Put in writing how much you love someone.  Trust me it will make their day.

Get up and do something.  Take a walk with a friend.  Plan a dinner party.  Call your Mom.  Surprise your significant other and take them out to lunch.  Be engaged with people and form a strong community around you.

We are relational beings, let's live deeply with one another.  Face-to-Face.


Uncle Tractor said...

Facebook reminds me of the nosy neighbor down the street who is watching what everyone is doing. The nosy neighbor then gossips like they have good first-hand knowledge, yet, you always feel sorry for the nosy neighbor. I don't want to be the nosy neighbor. I don't Facebook.

Stephanie said...

Very good points! I think I'll be making a few phone calls this week.

SillySimple said...

I think that the difference between the nosy neighbor and facebook is that on facebook you are only seeing the story that people want you to see. The exception to this would be people who don't understand privacy settings, I always feel a little bit bad reading those pages.

I think it is really interesting how people use facebook in different ways. Some use it as a giant rolodex and have very little 'friendship' with their many connections, others keep very few close friends and follow them avidly, and others use it as a giant cafeteria table with diverse debates and discussions across the globe.

That said, facebook IS a huge time sink. For a facebook addict removing the mental clutter of the news feed probably makes for a better more rounded person.

Simplifying in the South said...

@ Uncle Tractor: You're right! I never really thought about it like that, but Facebook is sort of the nosy neighbor type. That's why I've been struggling with it so much the past couple of weeks. It's sort of like keep track of people with out all the hard work. Which is not a shallow life I want to live.

@Stephanie- Thanks. Good luck with your phone calls. I hope they continue to deepen your relationships.

@SillySimple-I agree. There are so many tools and faucets to Facebook, it really amazes me. The scary thing is (for me) you can spend so much time on their, with the constant stream of information. It's kind of overwhelming. And when you look up from the blue glare, what have you really learned from it? How have you bettered yourself or the world you live in? Just some thoughts.

Tanja from Minimalist Packrat said...

I still haven't embraced Facebook technology. I signed up for an account but I never go there, I mean never, never, never. Twitter was hard enough for me. Just recently I cut twitter down to the bare minimum (after reading Mike Donghia's book) and it's been a relief.

I realize I like communicating online by being active with blog commenting. It seems to go deeper for me than a quick short tweet message or a facebook entry. I'm an old-fashioned gal I suppose!

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