Monday, February 8, 2010

Facebook Sabbatical



It's been a long time coming but I've finally decided to take a facebook sabbatical. While I haven't entirely decided to remove my personal profile and de-activate my account, I will not be visiting my page or any one else's for a good long while.

Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends, especially those that are long-distance. My friends kept asking me to join and that is ultimately why I joined, so I could catch up with my hometown friends from Canada. I really enjoyed seeing new photos of their babies, their wedding photos after the big day in which I had celebrated with them as well as new home purchases, updates about their day and a quick way to send and receive emails.

So, you might be wondering with all of these positives- Why am I taking a long break from this ever-popular social networking site? The answer is four-fold. Here are the reasons for my decision.

Firstly, although it's a great tool, facebook is also a huge time sink. I've said that so many times before but haven't taken any action with the exception of a one-week voluntary vacation from it a few months ago. When I have extra time, what begins as a 5 minute login to respond to a message in my inbox turns into an hour of reading wall posts or the news feed to catch up on daily happenings and browsing through photos online. That is a whole hour I could be spending on other important things that help me make the most of my day.

My second reason is because I don't feel that facebook truly lets me get to know my friends in a deeper way. It's so easy to post a quick wall comment here or post an album of photos there. However, it takes more time, energy, patience and love to meet people face-to-face, and really spend time with them, really hear what is on their heart, get to know them and be present. Facebook is just another tool in our fast-paced world that lets us think we are accomplishing more or staying in  better touch, when in actuality it has provided the exact opposite (for me).

Thirdly, because of the nature of facebook and its features, anyone can read anything that you've typed on someone's wall, comments you've left about a photo and complete strangers can get access to photos of you through another friends album in which you've been tagged  (if they haven't properly set up their privacy settings). I know this because I've had access to other people's photos in this manner, which immediately raised red flags. I am not a fan of the lack of privacy which is out of my control.

Lastly, I don't think that facebook helps me contribute to becoming a better person or friend. We've all heard that the written word can easily become misconstrued or received incorrectly and I believe that it's true.  I find that it would be easy for a friend or friends of friends or even complete strangers to judge you and sum up your life and who you are based on your wall, your friends' comments and most of all, your photos. This has never happened to me (that I'm aware of) but I want to be mindful of it. In some ways facebook lets you be a voyeur into other people's lives, focusing too much on what they are doing instead of focusing on yourself. I've also come across many posts and walls filled with boasting, complaining and also harsh words about others (celebrities, family or friends) too. Once information is out in cyberspace, it cannot be reclaimed..

Often times, such posts or distateful photos have changed my view or level of respect for someone, however it is important to remember that facebook isn't the be all, end all. I owe it to myself and my freinds to spend more 'real' time with them and less time learning about them via the web. Of course I visit with many regularly and phone calls are a good substitute for my non-local friends but I believe this will allow me to listen more intently too, because their stories won't be second hand news that I already read about in last week's wall post.

Please know that I don't judge anyone for using Facebook, this is just my personal decision. I have defined my priorities and this is something I need to do to re-balance and get more out of my life so that I can be the person I want to be and reach all of my 2010 goals too. I will keep you posted on my journey and let you know what I was able to accomplish with my 'extra' time and if/how it has improved my life in any way. I believe that one full month away (to start) will be a huge eye-opener into how much time I was actually wasting, similar to the way that creating a budget and reviewing past expenses does for the finances.

Have any of you moved away from facebook or social networking sites? What was your motivation? How did it help or change your life? I'd love to hear your stories.

8 comments:

  1. I deactivated on Facebook for the month on November, and never went back! I also loved looking at friends pictures and catching up with long lost ones, but I found it was more of a waste of time.

    I decided to spend more time either face to face with friends, or on the phone with long distance ones. I hated how technology was making me lazy about cultivating my true friednships, and having more personal contact.

    One thing nice to know is that if you deactivate your account, it simply goes dormant. It disappears from Facebook, but as soon as you log in again, it restores it with all your friends, pictures and messages, as if you never left. I like this feature for the fact that someone cant write something on my wall that I might not see for a long time and need to erase.

    Good luck, and I hope you enjoy being Facebook Free as much as I do!!

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  2. Karla,
    I agree totally with you evaluation of Facebook. Thank you for helping me understand why I grew disillusioned with it, too.
    Steph

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  3. I was relieved to read your post. It is nice to see someone who wants more out of the relationships they do have, full participation is necessary and facebook is about popularity (to some extent) and reminds me a bit of high school. I can understand the need for families to stay in touch with each other if they live great distances from each other, and close friends that are in a similar position, but other than that, I'm in absolutely agreement.
    Thanks for this honest post.

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  4. couldn't agree more as just yesterday I read a status update on the health of my cousin's husband's heel! Why in the world do I need to be reading this? FB is ridiculous!! Good post.

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  5. While I don't totally want to remove anything, I, too, need to disengage somewhat. I have recently gone back to re-evaluate the "Friends" portion. Everyone uses FB for something different - for me, I was interested in finding and renewing old friendships. I use mine as a mini-blog, but not too detailed. I decided that if I've emailed a "friend" and have never heard from them, or I see that they have plenty of time to play games on FB, but never respond to a post (realizing everyone will not comment on everything, it's impossible), I would simply delete them from my list. After all, what are they contributing to my life besides a name on my FB profile? I have deleted 14 and only 1 has asked me why. Interesting. I love FB, but as you said, you can spend TOO much time on it.

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  6. Thanks for your great comments ladies! It's been 3 days so far and I don't miss it at all, I surprised myself.

    M- Thank you for catching me up on the deleting vs. de-activating. At least I know my information will still be there later if/when I go back.

    Simply Luxurious- I agree with you about the highschool aspect. In some ways I feel as though many people are entering a popularity contest on FB by seeing how many friends they can 'collect'. That has never been my friendship. style, I like a small group of very close girlfriends.

    Ashlin-I agree with you on re-evaluating the friends portion. I did the same thing. Many people from the highschool days that I wasn't good friends with (who added me) were deleted months ago. I call it FB de-cluttering. LOL. I keep mine at 100 or under,when I see pages with 500+ friends, to me those aren't friends they are acquaintances, ex-colleagues and people you wouldn't normally spend time with anyway.

    I agree, people that you KNOW are using FB, playing games and writing on other people's walls but cannot answer your messages, are not friend-worthy on FB.

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  7. oh i love this!! such great points, thanks for commenting on my blog. Your post is better ;-)

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  8. I saw your link on Drea's blog and HAD to read :)
    I'm right there with you right now, so I think I'm going to do the 1 week break. I need it. My kids need it. And when I actually say that outloud and confess it, I realize Facebook can so easily be more of an addiction than a fun pastime. It is sometimes on my mind way too much. Even if I'm out having a great time with my family - I've got this in the back of my head "oh! I should post a picture to FB so people can see how much fun we're having!" and so on. Its sad.

    Thanks for this post. I needed it and God knew I did :)

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Warmly,
Karla

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