Friday, November 15, 2013

My Facebook Experiment

*By the by, after you read "My Facebook Experiment," you might want to read my latest update, "Farewell, Facebook!" Some might not believe my actions, but in March, 2015, I deactivated my Facebook account again—this time, however, I won't be going back.

On February 7th, 2013, I deactivated my Facebook account. I had no intentions of returning, except to download my status updates at a much later date—as part of my personal history. I had very legitimate reasons for deactivation. Some of those reasons were: privacy concerns; time constraints (I spent too much time on it); great annoyance with Facebook's constant advertisements and suggestions (I'll "like" what I want! I don't need someone telling me what to "like," thank you very much!); feeling bummed when my "friends" didn't include me in their lives like my heart wished, etc.

I was very happy with my decision. I stayed completely away from Facebook for exactly eight months and three weeks.

Why did I rejoin Facebook? There were several reasons, so let me share a few.

Over the many months I was off Facebook, I realized that society has changed. I truly believe that the creation of social media and social networking websites has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other. I naively thought that because I had all of my friends' and family members' email addresses and phone numbers, we would absolutely stay in touch. That was not my experience.

Yes, my immediate family and close friends stayed in contact with me, but that was about it. Even when I texted people or left messages for them on their voicemails or answering machines, people weren't great about getting back to me—unless it was for a specific reason. If I simply wanted to chat while I did the dishes and laundry, those phone calls were rarely returned. Sometimes there were late replies, but more often than not I never received a response. I guess I could take that as a sign that people simply didn't want to talk with me—I fully admit that could be the only reason! But I also interpreted it to mean that people are either (a) too busy, or (b) they just don't care for the in-person personal connections as much as I do. (I classify over-the-phone communication as in-person, since you can actually hear their intonations and get much more out of the conversation than you would via technology.)

For those of you who don't know me well, let me say that I truly love connecting with people! :) I love conversing and having discussions with others. I'm definitely an extrovert. To say that I'm energized by other people would be an understatement. Actually, I begin to feel withdrawn and on the sad side if I don't have human interaction for a couple of days. Call my need for personal connections a weakness or a strength, I don't care, I just know that's how I am. :)

I tried connecting with my friends and extended family members through blogging, but after several months of not many posts posted from everyone else, I realized that blogging was not where it's at anymore. Even though I adore blogging—because I feel it allows people to express themselves in a more in-depth manner than a Facebook or Twitter post—it appeared that not many members of my personal social circle agreed with me.

I was invited to join Twitter several times, but I never signed up because I've never been interested in it. Again, I like the in-depth connecting. 140 characters just doesn't work for my personality.

Obviously, I joined Google+ and that has been interesting. I like their program, but not many members of my personal social circle connect through Google+. I think that scenario is slowly changing, so I'll be interested to see what happens with G+.

I even sent multiple update emails to people I care about, but only received a few replies. Let me be clear: I didn't expect a reply. I was just truly stunned that I didn't hear back from more people—simply because I would absolutely reply to my friends/family if they sent an email like that to me. Sometimes the very people I sent those emails to would say to me, "I had no idea!" I realized right then and there that very few people were reading my emails—despite the time and effort I spent in not only composing those emails, but in deciding who should receive them.

After calmly examining my strengths, weaknesses, foibles and blunders, I decided not to take the disconnectedness personally. I knew I was loved by my true friends and family. I knew I wasn't that horrible of a person to be snubbed and slighted on purpose. I began thinking that maybe people just weren't connecting in the same way I thought they would—and should—before social media/networking came along.

Another reason I rejoined Facebook is because people would frequently say to me, "Oh, you didn't know (insert major life event)? I posted it on Facebook!"

I'd reply, "I'm not on Facebook anymore, remember?"

"Oh, that's right. Well, you should get back on Facebook! I miss seeing you there!"

I can't count the number of times that type of scenario happened to me!

I ultimately decided to rejoin Facebook after I heard at a family dinner that Greg's nephew was engaged and had been for several weeks! I heard the familiar phrase, "Well, he posted it on Facebook. Oh wait, you're not on Facebook." Yes, friends, that's when I fully internalized that if I really wanted to stay in-the-loop with our extended family members and friends, I would either have to accept the fact that I would live a socially quieter life—which is torturous to me(!), or get my hiney back on Facebook post haste! ;)

Thus, October 29th, 2013, I clicked on facebook dot com! (as my funny brother would say). My heart was racing! I was excited and curious to see how things had changed. I wondered if people would think I was a fool for my final post on February 7th that boldly declared I was leaving Facebook Land. I then realized that most people probably never read my bold declaration the first time! Ha ha. It was very interesting to note the people who unfriended me—I was surprised by some, but not others. I decided not to worry about the "whys," and just be happy with those who still considered me their friend.

I'm happy I decided to be more brave this time around in requesting friends, for I have already made some good connections that I would have missed out on if I hadn't requested their friendships. :) Yes, there are many good reasons for connecting on Facebook! It's just that this time around, I will absolutely remember to not spend too much time on fb, or it will become detrimental to my life. Indeed, I am much better at using my Facebook minutes wisely. I won't regress. :)

I've also decided to be more cautious with what I post on Facebook. During my last Facebook experience, I allowed my personal feelings to cloud my judgment. There were several times I posted status updates, or made comments, or sent messages that weren't indicative of my best self. But I'm not the only one. I've seen many status updates, and posts/messages between Facebook friends, that were very unkind and unnecessary. When I read those posts, I would think, "I can't believe they wrote that! They would never say that to the other person's face!" The same thought applies to me as well. Yet I'm determined not to worry about what my Facebook friends post. Previously, I had allowed some of my family and friends' status updates or comments to rile me, but I don't do that anymore. Yay! :)

To help me remember what I've learned and what I hope to accomplish on Facebook—which is staying connected to my family members and friends, I created this phrase and topographic design: "If you can't say it to their face, don't post it." I think my words are applicable to any social media/networking site, not just Facebook! :)



I'm truly happy to be back on Facebook! Connecting with my family and friends again is very satisfying to my sociable soul. It's nice knowing that even if I don't log-on to Facebook for a few days, I can instantly get back on and see what my loved ones are doing, thinking or venting about! ;)

Oh yeah, and in order to remind myself to be my best self on Facebook, I watch Studio C's clever Facebook friends video often. :)



P.S. I think I used to be like five of those annoying people! At least I never went on Twitter! Ha ha.

2 comments:

  1. IF YOU CAN'T SAY IT TO THEIR FACE, DON'T POST IT! I love that sooooo very much, and I truthfully wish that more people would abide by that rule. Love you my sister, so glad that you're back on FB! :)

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  2. Thanks, Carly! I love you too! :)

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