I never used to be someone who was concerned about the way I came across on Facebook. For me it was never a portal to portray a certain image of myself or my life. I never untagged photos, rarely thought twice about what I was posting as a status, and used to enjoy it for what it was – a fantastic way for me to keep in touch with friends from all over the world. But recently I’ve found myself not only more concerned about what I am portraying through my profile and how it can be interpreted (usually incorrectly), but also getting sucked into looking at others’ lives too. Logically, I know that what is shown on Facebook is almost always misconstrued and only provides a glimpse into what is really going on in someone’s life, but when you see someone having fun while you’re sat in the office or at home feeling bored, or someone always seems to be gallivanting off on amazing adventures, it still sparks real emotions. Especially when, and I admit this reluctantly, Facebook browsing constitutes a large amount of procrastination time!
I also HATE that I’ve started having those nagging feelings that I’d better make myself look more presentable at random times in case photos end up on Facebook, or “oh my god, no one has liked what I thought was a funny status – people must think I’m an idiot?”, or looking back at something posted a few weeks ago and cringing because it suddenly no longer makes sense! So silly. It’s started to infiltrate my mind, and I thought I was better than this!!
Not only this but I am also aware of how much I hide behind the ease of Facebook to ‘stay friends’ with someone. I admit that I am a lazy communicator. I get so caught up in ‘the moment’ of every day life that I rarely find the time to sit down and email someone I haven’t spoken to for a long time, or make that catch up phone call. Facebook has provided me with a simple and adequate way to ‘know’ what is going on in people’s lives without actually making any effort. The odd ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘miss you’ posts, along with a few photo likes, and we’re still friends. Ha.
Just before Christmas I was sat at my parents’ house in front of the log fire feeling all cosy and nostalgic about things, and realised that while I may superficially know what people I class as my friends have been up to, I don’t actually know what’s going on in their lives, their minds, their hearts. I don’t mean everyone on Facebook, but there are lots of people I really should make the effort with that I don’t – it’s too easy to slot into superficiality and the ‘no time’ excuse. That evening I sent out a simple electronic Christmas card I made from a photo taken that day whilst walking the dog with the vow to follow up with a proper message or phone call to anyone who responded. Obviously it’s only been a week or so since I did this and that time has been full of family and celebratory days so I haven’t got around to responding to many yet. But I can already tell, as I sit back down in front of my thesis, that it is just another good intention. Yet, I’ll spend a good while every morning whilst drinking a cuppa and every evening before bed having a good trawl of Facebook, time that would be better spent writing a proper email to someone that shows I care more than a click of a thumbs up, or making that time during the day to call someone for a proper chin wag.
So, I want to do an experiment. I’m going to give up Facebook for a while and see what happens to me and my life. Will I stop feeling as though my life is inadequate and concentrate more on what I am doing, achieving and being than judging against what I’m not doing compared to others? Will I spend more time properly reconnecting and staying connected with those I am a bad friend to but really do care about? Will I miss out on social events that are organised mainly on Facebook or will people still remember to tell me (uh oh!)? Will I feel left out when everyone is laughing at photos shared on Facebook that I can’t see (definitely think this is one of the best features of Facebook)? Will I not hear news about friends who have become recently engaged, pregnant, moved country etc. or will I hear about it first hand instead from those I am still in touch with and thus it not really matter about the others because ultimately we wouldn’t be in touch anyway?
I’m intrigued to find out what happens and how, if at all, it changes my life. I’ve had Facebook since it first came to the UK in 2005. While I LOVE looking back at all the friends I’ve made since, all the photos that span back to 2005 (and further!), and all the snippets of history that sometimes pop up, I’m really interested to see what life is like without it. I’ve had it for the majority of my adult life, and I just want to see how it feels. I don’t want to lose my account nor deactivate it so I’ve asked my sister to change my password. I can trust her not to break if I have a moment of weakness during a dark period of boredom or FOMO!
I’ll report back here. Eeeeek!
If you have any thoughts on this post, you’ll have to comment or send me a message. I won’t get it on Facebook – obvs!
Notes: I wrote this on the 1st and I haven’t been on Facebook since. I’m already experiencing issues. How ridiculous! I’ll write about them soon!