Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Facebook Detox

So I realized I'd developed an unhealthy relationship with Facebook: I'd become preoccupied with what was going on there to the point of addiction. Part of it was the immediacy of being able to post an impulse and have it be read by so many people; part of it was this sense that I was connected to this larger web.

There were side effects. One was that I stopped blogging. Facebook satisfied my craving for communication, leaving me no motivation to create thoughtful entries.

Another was more insidious. I spend most of my free time alone; it's just how my life is. I don't have a BF/husband, and I live alone. I meet tons of people through various activities, but few that have turned into real friendships. A woman in my building put it this way: "Chicago is TOUGH when it comes to making friends. It's almost impossible to break into people's groups."

 I think of the friends I have in Boston, and the ways we met. We could have easily not turned into friends, but people were easier to bond with. No such thing has happened here. I'm tired of trying to find a tribe.

Before Facebook, I went out, saw movies, had dinner, kept myself busy. It was fine. After Facebook, I did the same thing but then got to read about all the activities my "friends" did while I was by myself. I discovered that the kids I used to sit for had a birthday party. I wasn't invited. I'd post, "Hey, who wants to do XYZ this weekend?" and get no response.

I became lonely, and the lonelier I became, the more addicted I was to FB. It was like the nerd who tries harder and harder to get the cool kids' attention by hanging around all the time, trying to be witty and eye-catching.

I'd stopped looking for activities to go to; instead, I spent hours posting and reading, trying to feel a sense of community, and feeling more and more empty.

Facebook is great for so many things, but it's still just a tool, and I'd let it decide its role in my life. So as of this Friday, the only people I will keep as FB friends are people I know who live out of state. There has been a bit of a response of dismay from local people, but what they don't get is that if they need FB to stay in touch with me while we live in the same city, maybe that says something about their investment in a friendship with me. The people I see and do things with are either not on FB or communicate with me outside of it or in addition to it.

I'm feeling a mix of anxiety and relief, but mostly relief. I can let go of a facsimile of friendship and focus on my real-life life again, get some real perspective. I'll still be here; the people who really want me in their life know where to find me.


karen said...

Oooop! You're back!

I would totally dump FB's ass, except it keeps me in touch with overseas people ... and my old friend from school, that's nice in a different ways. But you are right, and I think I'll overhaul mine too. But I was thinking of just making people invisible ... like my brother-in-law, for starters (It's true!). Is this the cowardly way or a sign of the medium ...

later ...


JC said...

I agree with your logic, and I've tried that - not having people post. But the addictive part still hung in there. it's very personal, and you have to decide how to make it work for you. All of my long-distance friends are still on there. I actually just deleted people today rather than wait. feel kind of freed for having to check FB every ten minutes or so. This will either force people to make an effort, or they won't. There is something profoundly wrong about needing FB to maintain friendships with people who live next door.

karen said...

Well ... just ran into next door neighbours (with kids ages similar to ours) at the bowling alley ... again talked having dinner together (aren't fb friends so ... win ... the guy is a drummer for various theatrical and symphonic thingies around town. This time we have agreed on a potential night AND restaurant rather than having to cook and clean, so maybe we will get to know a neighbouring family? That would be a good start ... seeing as we've had this house since '93. (They are newer, and in my defense I spent the better part of the 90s in Hong Kong so ...)

My mom has emphysema, so she is not getting better. I can't post the thing I wrote on my page because my sisters aren't comfortable with this medium and publishing is nowhere near as important as my relationship with them. (Publishing is not important to me at all ... I'd probably have a few more stories out there if it was, sigh.)

My mother is a piece of work, and exhausting for three of the four of us to look out for at the best of times. She's currently on a ventilator, and she was being rude, selfish, non-compliant to treatment and demanding regardless. Yeesh!

I would say more, but I've had a couple of drinks and might start looking really callous myself ... we are doing everything we can to care for and support the woman, though that was never something that she did for us ... whatryagonnado, eh?

Sorry to post this on your blog, feel free to delete after you've read it, I just can't leave it on mine! I have sent the piece to another site for publication (I call it the anonyblog treatment) and if it gets published there, I'll post the link here. Shhhhhh ...

hope you are doing okay and not too bummed out. remember, you could have my mother, and then you would be REALLY FREAKED OUT. (Count your blessings, and DON'T tell me yours is worse cuz I don't wanna imagine it is possible (though I know it is).

later gater ...


JC said...

Hey, I hope you have found some new friends. It can be hard to find people who get you and you enjoy spending time with.

I'm sorry about your mother - my grandfather had emphysema and it was not pretty. The hard part about these things is that having a progressive disease doesn't make a person a saint, or alter a bad temperament, and you feel kind of hijacked because of the illness. And these situations always seem to bring out all the nasty stuff lurking underneath.

Do keep me posted on your published status - would love to read all about it. Hang in there, and feel free to post here anytime.