FACEBOOK AFFLICTION

AGING WOMEN 2 So, I did it! I finally did what I was saying I was going to do for a long time. I deactivated my Facebook account. I didn’t want to delete it because at some point I want to harvest some of my commentaries and pictures and save them on a memory stick.

Making the decision to give up Facebook was easy.  The difficult part came when I had to actually cut the cord because I was still so hooked to how I felt when I first joined. In the early days of my affiliation with Facebook, it was akin to going to one giant combined class and family reunion. Suddenly, right there on my desktop, were updated pictures and comments from people I hadn’t seen in years. Some, I have not seen in at least 30 to 40 years!!! What euphoria! It was SO much fun to share with each other what had been going on in our respective lives since we last saw each other, and it was fun to share pictures of our families and friends.  I was on Facebook for 4 years and can honestly say that for at least the first three years, it fed my social side.

But then, as often happens in life, things began to change.  For one thing, once all the blanks had been filled in on the lives of long lost friends and family, that rush one gets when seeing someone you haven’t seen in years begins to settle down.  You still enjoy having them in your life, but now they become a part of your daily routine.  You begin to take a look at  your list of  cyber “friends” and find yourself musing about who of these you are actually friends with in the “real” world.  You especially find yourself wondering about the validity of having people on that list that never show themselves to you other than the initial request to be your friend.  It begins to feel a bit like they are using your acceptance of their friend request as a “peep hole” to take in your life happenings while keeping their life completely hidden.  Not fair, in my estimation, but now one is stuck with the decision to “defriend” them and that somehow feels drastic regardless of the merit of doing so.   For my part,  my “friends” list had grown to 13o!  I mean, seriously?  I have 130 cyber friends? As Facebook accounts go, I was on the low end of head count.  Many others had hundreds…in fact one aquaintence had 750 “friends” on their list.  How is it possible to know and have a friendship with 750 people?  Well, of course, we all KNOW it isn’t possible!

I began to notice a shift in my newsfeed.  Little by little my friends posts dwindled, while simultaneously, Facebook ads grew in the feed.  I had to wade through a barrage of uninvited stuff I wasn’t interested in just to find my friends postings, and I began to realize I easn’t even receiving ALL  of those.  I read somewhere that FB was deciding FOR me, and for all FB users, who we get to receive posts from!  There was even a suggestion that if we paid money, we could increase our friends posts.  Well, now, that seemed a bit too much like the “Big Brother” activity to me and I did not want anything to do with it.

I joined Facebook because I saw it as a new way of “communication” with friends.  At first, when we were all new to it, it was exactly that!  Back and forth the comments moved in a way that simulates conversation.  But then, it began to feel like “show and tell”.  Lots of sharing about ones life, but less and less interaction.  Comments dwindled along with the likes.

At one point it felt a bit like going on a stage in a vast empty room and trying to communicate with the air, because the “audience” had left the building.  The luster of Facebook had dimmed greatly for me by this time.  So, after a couple of proclamations about leaving Facebook, I finally did it!  I only recently left that forum, and since then have satisfied my urge to write on my new baby blog.

Is anyone reading my stuff?  I really don’t know…and frankly, I am o.k. with however the dust settles.  I put out an invitation to a number of my “friends” to check out my blog but only had a couple of “takers”.  So, this reinforces that my decision to pack up my writing utensils and leave that forum for another forum was the right thing to do.  FB was never meant to be a writers platform anyway!

I am now comfortably back in my old life sans Facebook.  My nature has always been to have just a few good friends, and when I say few, I mean it!  I want and need relationships that have some measure of meaning and depth and endurance, and this is not possible if you fill your life with hoards of so called friends. There is only so much time in ones life to nurture an ongoing relationship.  If, at the end of my life, I have only one friend left on my dance card, a friend who truly cares for me, I will be happy and deeply grateful.  Leaving Facebook now opens up a LOT of time for me to take care of the friends I have and to work on deepening the relationship.

I do not regret joining Facebook at all!  It added a dimension and experience to my life that hadn’t been there before, and I am certain that as time allows, I will be back into it.  BUT….. THIS time I will do things differently!  I don’t believe in an all or nothing approach to much of anything in life.  It simply boils down to setting limits and having some self control.  One very good thing that came out of my experience with Facebook, was some growth in my writing.  I have always written in one form or another, but usually in complete privacy.  This time I ventured onto a somewhat public stage and  when I posted a little bitty poem…the reaction took my breath away.  Really?  You like it? Seriously?  Well, that only served to fuel the writers channel in my brain.  No doubt about it, when someone likes your writing, something in your writers channel gets turned on!  It has been such FUN, and I think I shall write my thoughts in one form or another until I take my last breath!

My suggestion for anyone who is really ambivalent in their feelings about FB and want to gain control of your former life, is to simply take a break to clear your head from the way you have come to view FB. Everyone will have a different timetable.  It would be very good for your psyche if you decided to look at Facebook as just one more news source, similar to the local news.  Don’t fool yourself by thinking this is how real friendships are formed.  It is really no different than going down to the local grocery store and running into someone you haven’t seen in a while.  You feel delight in seeing them, you catch up on each other’s news, and then wave goodbye as you get back to the business and busyness of your life. These are people you can enjoy on the margins of your life because they add a dimension you like.  However, you need to KNOW this is just a tiny part of who you are.

As with any affliction, there is often something you can do to remedy you back to a state of wellness.  Once you find your remedy, you will begin to learn to live within a modified lifestyle, and you are happier and healthier as a result.

Now, I say to Facebook…..not goodbye…. but rather, “Until we meet again”.  In the meantime, I really must finish up on that project that I began before I was sucked into the vortex of FB, and which has been sadly languishing for the last 4 years!  I believe I am even feeling a little excited about it!  🙂

Jjb/4/8/2015

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