Thursday, May 9, 2013

Social Media Has Changed My Life

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Life in 2013 is different.  Growing up as a kid in the 70's and 80's, we watched television shows about people having madcap adventures together and they were often a reflection of "real life."  Families REALLY DID eat dinner together.  Neighbors REALLY DID stop by for coffee. Our parents gathered with other parents or family on the weekends and they worked on cars together, played board games and stayed late, often putting us kids in pajamas before the ride home.  Depending on where we lived, I was able to walk to school, waving to school buses as they passed me by and saying hello to the crossing guard stationed at one end of the elementary school.  The librarian at the local library in one of the towns where we lived knew me by name.  Life was lived at a snail's pace and, even though we were dressed funny, we were a part of real community.

Now, I'm a part of the Facebook World.  Even though I don't know my neighbors, I communicate regularly with friends from way back in high school via computer.

It's kinda funny because even though MOST of the people I'm "friends" with on FB were once a very real part of my orbit, every now and again I've accepted a friend request from someone who knows someone I know or who was a member of a group (for example, someone who attended my high school) and was never a real friend of mine but only a vague acquaintance.  I see their posts regularly and sometimes feel like I'm getting to know them.  I have to pull back and remind myself that I have NO IDEA who this person is!

I get attached to people this way.  I am moved when they update their status with the information about a sick child or an injured spouse.  "Oh NO!" I think to myself.  "Little Johnny has a BROKEN ARM?  I wonder which hand he writes with?" I start to think maybe I should send a note and realize that I knew this person VAGUELY about 20 years ago and that they would wonder why in the hell I am stalking them on FB.

I start to worry about people when they begin to post dramatic status updates like "Loving you was so wrong...but I never want to be right."  Hmm, is Alfredo not happy with his current girlfriend?  Did she leave him?  Did he leave her?  I wonder if he's OK.  Maybe I should send him a note...

I check my feeds every morning and then leave FB open during the day at work.  I'm always so PLEASED when I see a little number next to the FB icon.  I see (2) Facebook on the tab and get giddy!  Ooh!  A starred friend has posted a status update or someone has commented or, even better, "liked" a post!  FB is connected to my iPhone, so I also get notifications filling up my screen with comments and status updates galore.

When my kids are with their dad for the weekend, I sometimes spend entire weekends alone in my jammies watching old episodes of The Gilmore Girls (I have started writing a post about THAT part of my life, never fear), drinking wine with my computer opened up to FB and one ear open for the pinging sounds that say something new is out there for me to pay attention to.  I avoid invitations to dinner and don't answer my phone, but I pay attention to the World According to Facebook. 

Obviously, I have an illness.  I have a Facebook addiction.  And because I'm an ass-kicker, I'm going to kick the addiction to the curb.  I so enjoy the witty comments of my friends (both real and imagined) and I really do laugh and smile when I read updates and post comments...but this has simply gone too far.  I depend on social media far too much.

So, I think it's time for a personal intervention.  I'm going to conduct a non-social social experiment.  For the remainder of May, I'm going to access FB only once per week.

Holy crap.

Can I do that?  Once per week?  I'm panicking a little bit thinking about it. What will I do without the funny, sarcastic updates?  What on EARTH will I DO?  HOW WILL I FEEL CONNECTED?

That's the point, though, isn't it?  I'm falsely connected.  Instead of being out there in the world, I'm on the couch in my jammies.  It's time for a radical shift in my thinking and in my behavior.  Social media has changed my life and, while I FEEL closer to people, I'm not ACTUALLY closer.

I'm going out into the world.  Maybe make a new friend or two.  Or connect (in REALITY) with friends I already know.  Time to begin a new class or spend time doing some of the many REAL fun things I enjoy.

The Great Non-Social Social Experiment begins today.

Goodbye, Facebook.  Hello, World!

Cue panic.

If you'd like to contact me during my hiatus, you can give me a call.  Seriously.  Call me.  I'm rejoining the world.  The rest of my life starts today.

Or does it?

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