That is the question, or at least that is the one that has been plaguing me for the past few days. I enjoy the feeling of “keeping in touch” with people that scrolling through my Facebook news feed can provide, though why does it leave me feeling empty many times?
I’ve been known to be a Facebook pusher…just ask my mom! Everyone’s doing it, I said. You’ll get to see pictures of friends’ kids, I said. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people you’ve lost touch with over the years, I said.
Now, I’m second guessing whether the effort is indeed worth the benefit for hypocritical ol’ me.
Over the past twenty years, I’ve lived in ten cities. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many lovely people who I want to keep as part of my life. It takes a lot of work to build a friendship as an adult compared to how much easier it was back in school. You have to conscientiously schedule the time to get to know someone, then keep carving out time from your packed schedules to maintain that relationship. While it can be an amazing investment, it does require plain and simple effort. And if you’re lucky enough to find a genuine friend, then it is heartbreaking to lose touch because of something silly like distance.
One of the main reasons I have been a Facebook user for so long has been to stay in the loop on these friends’ lives and to keep them posted on mine. It’s a lazy and superficial way to do so. Personally, I tend to post about the high level positive moments in life. I choose not to take photos of my little one crying, nor did I share what I looked like postpartum, for instance. To say that my posts captured the Cliff’s Notes level of my life would be an overstatement! That may be one of the reasons using this site leaves me feeling empty. It’s often not indicative of real life and therefore doesn’t feel as meaningful.
Though I feel reluctant to use Facebook now, there was a time that I found it to be a useful filler in my life. I put myself on virtual lock down when my baby was a newborn. It was a struggle for me to function in the real world while breastfeeding, and I missed human, adult interaction. Logging on gave me a sense of blissful fulfillment.
Now when I logon, I let myself get caught up in the advertised posts. Thank you, Facebook, for suggesting that I might want to know why Steve from Blue’s Clues quit. I didn’t know he had, but sure, I was curious when I heard that it was for a reason I wouldn’t suspect. It took me fifteen minutes of scrolling through page after page of inaccurate speculations to find out that he both wanted to pursue his music career and didn’t want to document his hair loss. Thanks a lot for nuthin’.
I am a stay at home parent at the moment. I still crave that adult interaction, and I’m no longer on breastfeeding lock down. My child and I are both free to go where we want, when we want, with whom we want. And for some reason, when I want to socialize, I continue to go to that website. I login. I scroll through my news feed. And, naturally, it’s not exactly satisfying, as you would expect.
We went to a friend’s son’s first birthday party this past weekend. On our way out, my friend said for us to stop over any time now that we know where she lives. You know what? I think she meant it. I would never just show up – I’d at least text in advance to make sure it was okay – and that’s what I should do in the future when I want to use Facebook as a crutch to socialize: find people to talk with, old school style.
Another reason I find Facebook depressing at times is because I find myself addicted to the Likes. If someone absentmindedly clicks on a button to indicate that they like a photo I’ve posted, it can make me feel happy, almost validated. I enjoy seeing the Likes ramp up. If they don’t, then I can feel a little discouraged. Not significantly so, though it is disappointing. And even if a photo I posted gets a lot of Likes, when the new Likes stop coming in, that makes me feel like I need my next rush. It’s admittedly sad.
Most of the time, I share photos of my child on Facebook. I know my child is adorable. I know my child is sweet. I know my child is the best baby in the world. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t need my Facebook community to confirm this, and yet I find myself looking for just that.
While I’ve been fortunate enough to make quality friends with whom I want to maintain a relationship, there are some people I’ve encountered who I purposefully choose to not stay in touch with. Despite having no friends in common, some people in this category appear under my People You May Know list. How does Facebook know? Do these people creep on my profile? It all just weirds me out, even though my privacy setting prevents them from seeing anything personal.
Of course, Facebook does have its advantages. I have a page for my blog, which I don’t intend to take down. Also, there are community pages that allow you to keep in the loop with what’s going on in my neighborhood. Just last night, my husband shared with me that there were a couple more bear sightings near us. I would classify this information sharing method as beneficial indeed!!
I haven’t decided to what capacity I’ll use Facebook going forward. I might just look over my husband’s shoulder to catch the photos of our friends & family. Perhaps I’ll stay on, make my profile even more private and use self-control when it comes to how often I log in. Time will tell. I just hope I get to stay in touch with people in a more meaningful way.