Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Help! I think I’m addicted to FaceBook…

Why is FaceBook so addicting?  It’s something I have been reflecting on lately.  What I am seeing is that, for me, it’s because it creates the illusion of relationship. 

I have great, real friendships with lots of the people on my “friend” list.  But, a large portion of my list is made up of old school chums, people I know loosely through some contact, the parents of my kids’ friends, distant relatives etc.  Nothing wrong with keeping in touch with those people!  FaceBook can be a great tool for communicating.

In my busy life, sometimes it really is the best way to communicate with large groups of people, vent about my day, or share pictures and news with the grandparents.  I can ask for advice, I can check in with a friend, I can throw a question out there, and get neat responses.  If someone starts crying ( me or the kids, lol) I can stop typing where I am, and come back to a message or conversation.  On the phone, it’s harder to stop and start conversations at times that are convenient for me, or for the other person.  It’s helped to co-ordinate schedules, make plans, and organize parties.

What I am seeing is that while FaceBook is a great tool, I have become too dependant on it.  It allows me to feel like I am genuinely connecting with my friends, when often, I am not.  I like reading everyone’s statuses, feeling like I know what’s going on in their lives.  I enjoy reading what people post back.  But am I really investing in their lives?  In our friendship? 

I am very guilty of neglecting the friends I have who are not on facebook.  Partly, I envy them a bit, because they never got into the habit of facebook in the first place, and partly I wonder how they stay connected without it in this day and age.  When talking with several of my FBF ( facebook free) friends, I have also noticed that sometimes they feel left out.  FBA (facebook addicts) like me often forget to phone and invite them to things because “I posted the invite over facebook”, or “everyone set the time on facebook” etc.

I like posting interesting or funny things that happen during my day.  I suspect that this too has gone too far.  When something funny happens around the house, one of my kids will say “ Mom, you should so put this on facebook!”.

Our Bible study group has been reading a book called “A Celebration of Discipline”, and the chapter last week was on “simplicity”.  This week is “solitude”.  These chapters have convicted me so much!  I am loving how much this book is challenging me to grow.  I bring it up here, because in the chapter on simplicity, the author lists 10 things to think about.  One of them is to remove things that you are becoming addicted to or dependant on.  These are things that are taking away from your relationship with God.  I have to admit, for me, facebook falls into that category.  If I was sitting praying or reading my Bible, and I heard that little message bing sound, I would get up to see who was trying to talk to me.  I wouldn’t get up to answer the phone, but… And I realized that in the past, I have probably invested more time sitting on facebook than reading the Bible on many days. 

In the chapter on solitude, the author talks about how we need to have both solitude and social times in our life.  We can’t be good to people without having some solitude times, and we can’t enjoy solitude if we don’t have enough social times.  Am I leaving enough solitude time in my life?  Facebook allows me to feel constantly a part of a social group, never really alone.  I often feel antsy if I haven’t checked in for a while, and I have to consciously decide that I won’t check as I walk by the computer. 

Ouch.  Yep, I’m addicted to facebook.  I have mentioned before that I gave up facebook last year for lent.  It allowed me so much more free time, which I spent in better ways.  I did feel left out of conversations and events some times, but on the whole, it was really good.  I definitely felt withdrawal!

While I don’t want it to become a default that every lent I will give up facebook, I am considering it again this year.  Last year, it reset my use for a long time, but I have slowly crept it up again.  I want to be a better friend.  To have a real connection to those in my life.  I don’t want to settle for the illusion of a real friendship.  Over the last few weeks, I have been consciously trying to be more intentional about connecting with those in my life.  I have been purposefully spending less time on the computer.  I wrote some long overdue letters.  I went for coffee with a friend.  I have turned the TV off more, and have enjoyed the quiet and calmness that brings to my house. I have been reading great books, studying my Bible and praying more. I am weaning myself off of the dependence on facebook as my main communication tool.

Will I go FBF cold turkey for lent?  I haven’t decided yet.  But one of my good friends is giving it up this week, maybe I’ll go see her for coffee… 

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