Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Evil of Social Networking

I have this love/hate relationship with Facebook. I joined Facebook back in 2007, after they finally opened up the networking site to everyone with a valid email address. See, I never joined in college, because I never set up my university email. So, I ended up joining MySpace instead, which I thought was the best thing since sliced bread. It was great being able to "find" people and "catch" up with those people I haven't seen in many, many years...kind of like a mini high school reunion. Anyway, being pregnant with our first child, I thought MySpace was a great way to document my pregnancy with pictures, updates, and show the world how excited I was about becoming a mother.

The more I "liked" being on MySpace, the more addicting it became. I found myself commenting on MySpace walls more than I was making telephone calls. The time spent on there was quickly adding up, and the time I should of been spending with my amazing husband, cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, etc was pushed aside. I couldn't believe I've been "infected" by the social networking bug!

Once I learned about Facebook, I quickly stopped updating my MySpace page, and was constantly on Facebook. I found more people were on Facebook, compared to MySpace. I was connecting with more people. Plus, I loved how I could keep my family and friends updated with my life, especially since we were gearing up to move to a different state. It was mainly family, close friends, and co-workers who were on my "friend's list". However, I couldn't get over how that small list quickly grew to over 500 people. Do I really know THAT many people? That's when I realized my social networking was starting to become a tad bit out of control.

As the popularity of MySpace and Facebook grew rapidly, so did my need to find old connections, update my status (numerous times a day), add a butt load of pictures, etc. It was more of a bragging right, a time for me to express myself to the "world", to get feedback and acknowledgement, and to be this "new and improved" individual in cyber space. Did people really care if I cleaned my house top to bottom in two hours?! Probably not! However, it gave me a sense of accomplishment by seeing those little "thumbs up" pop up one by one.

On the subject of status updates, it was those 10-20 word sentences that always catch my attention... "Pregnant and Due In June"..."It's a Boy"..."So and so just purposed, we're engaged"..."Getting ready for a romantic date with my hubby"..."Packing my suitcase, sooo looking forward to laying out on the beach in Hawaii", etc. I was so drawn into the lives of other people, and sometimes finding myself quite envious. My expectations for my life were changing, because of what was going on in someone else's.

Facebook does have it's positives. I love being able to get birthday updates. It's fun being able to wish people a happy birthday, and receive those well wishes myself. The connections and being able stay in touch are a definite plus. I do enjoy seeing "breaking news", especially pregnancy, engagement, and wedding announcements. It's easier keeping up/stay in touch with everyone, especially amongst the busy days wrangling two handsome, yet busy young boys. It's a great tool to get feedback and advice (one of the top two statuses I really enjoy) on things from baby gear, vacation destinations, parenthood advice, etc.

A negative that goes along with the positive listed above is how social networking prevents and takes away from daily social face to face interaction. It's easier to get on and type a few words like "how are you?" to someone's wall compared to just calling them up on the phone, meeting them for lunch, etc. If you disappear from the Facebook world, don't count on receiving a phone call to see if everything's okay, just check your Facebook inbox (or email for that matter). I'll be the first to admit, I wish we could go back to telephone calls and handwritten letters...both at which I need to be better about doing. Have you ever stopped and thought about how life was like prior to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace?! In all honestly, I truly believe things have become more complicated, more feelings have been hurt, especially due to everything being typed out there in black and white. Opinions, disagreements, confrontations are easier, especially when you don't receive and immediate reaction like if things were discussed in a face to face interaction. With me, it's easier for me to bring up something that's bothering me over an email, or Facebook message compared to calling that person up and talking it out... I guess it's a little cowardly of me and a tad bit immature. However, it's the "easy way out".

As my wise mother puts it, " As many things that you find "good" about FB...you will find twice as many things that are "bad" about it. It's infectious...and not always in a good way.

I'm going to challenge myself. I know it's going to be difficult, but I'm going to say goodbye to Facebook for five weeks starting on Sunday, May 22nd. I want to really see what life was once like without having to surround myself with eight blue and white box letters (ie. Facebook logo). I want to rely on the old fashion telephone to keep everyone posted on exciting news, meet ups, celebrations, or just a "hey, how are you?". I want to MAKE time to do these things, because I know not only will this help myself in the long run, but hopefully set a positive example for others. Are you willing to make the same challenge?!


  1. good for you! I admit that the (almost) month I took off FB was refreshing. It was hard, but once I got over feeling like I would miss something, it was great! Now, I am back to wasting huge amounts of time on it......and feeling guilty about it. So, maybe I need to back off again. :) And you're right. Very few people will notice or care enough to actually reach out with a call or visit. And that's tough to take. All I can say is thank goodness this was not around when I was in high school. If it is this guilt and drama ridden now, imagine what THAT would have been like??? Good luck!

  2. Good luck!! It's only hard the first week. But I understand exactly how you feel. It's enticing. Lol!! Speaking of... I can't see any of your FB posts, now that I think of it. A lot of people's really. Did FB do changes again? Hummm...

  3. FB is habit forming for sure! I mess receiving regular letters (especially Christmas cards)or even personal emails. I thought about giving up FB altogether, but I do enjoy hearing from friends. I have limited my time on it. I also went through and unfriended(that sounds awful) some people that I just really didn't know or their posts were depressing/upsetting to me. I also unliked several pages that seems to bog me down.
    Good luck.

  4. I totally agree. I've cut back on how often I check mine. Don't think I could do without for some time, because of all the heart moms and babies that I follow. But it's so true... too many people may say mean things, and then hide behind a computer screen. Easier communication, but even easier hurt feelings. I cut down my friend list periodically as well. If I couldn't just send them a quick message, asking how they are, then we're really not friends. :)