So I am now on a “no facebook” diet. My husband laughs each time I say “I DID NOT stop checking facebook because I did not like the social obligation it had become”. I get angry each time he laughs, because I know he is right, and I am lying with that statement. Because facebook HAS become an obligation to people like me, who hang out in facebook often. For example, here is a hypothetical scenario that I think we all can relate to, although the specifics may be different for you and me:
You see heaps of your friends wishing a common friend on her birthday in FB, and you join the herd, even though you forget about her the second you press ‘Post’. This is because she is someone you haven’t talked to (or about) for more than a decade. You have moved to a new country in that decade, but you have found out (through facebook of course) that she now is in your city. You even know exactly where she lives (not too far away from someplace you visit often), but you never feel like dropping by or contacting to say hi. But you know exactly what this person has done in the last year or two. She’s landed a job (looks like a nice big salary boost, as she now flaunts those snazzy handbags and dresses that turns you green), has a (very!) handsome husband, and has just completed her family with a chubby kid, while you struggled to find a job or a guy that kept you happy (and financially stable). Of course, all this info was thanks to facebook. You also know that she knows you are in the same city too (you post your photos in front of Vivid Sydney in front of the Opera house every year anyway!), but she hasn’t tried to contact you either. So you feel its OK to not want to contact her. But when everyone wishes her on her birthday, you feel obliged to post. Few words are not going to hurt you. But in reality, it does. It makes you fake. You actually felt more sincere about wishing the old couple in your morning jog with a ” Have a very nice day”, than when you posted this ‘wish’ for this friend. You felt more connected to those oldies. But never obliged.
Facebook is great actually. It lets me tell my mom, who is not very computer savvy, that I went to the beach last weekend and had loads of fun. It lets me know that my mom has grown a nice garden again this year (someone has to post the photos for her when they visit my parents), and I can see my sister’s son’s really cute dance (he has grown up so fast!) from miles away. I get updates about who I am close to, and also about what is happening back home (someone always posts that there was an earthquake, or a major celebration before I had a chance to talk to any of my family or friends there). But I found that I also spent a LOT of time looking at what ‘the rest’ are doing in their lives, how they are digging up their garden (or digging their cars out of snow, when we here in Sydney are dying in the sweltering heat), what they wore to their friend’s wedding or what they cooked for dinner. If that made me inspired to dig up my own garden, or get a fashion tip for myself, or gave me any positive motivation, then it was all great. But besides wasting my time (which I would have perhaps spent doing nothing anyway), more often than not, it gave me reasons to feel inadequate about what I have achieved so far, because others always seemed to do it better. Perhaps just the grass is greener on the other side syndrome, but unfortunately I haven’t made to the other side to compare. So now I was green about 100+ friends who didn’t matter in my world pre-facebook. Lets face it, most of them are not in my life (real life, not FB) now, because I chose them not to be. But now that I chose them to be in my virtual life, I still feel obliged to maintain the friendship?
So, I decided to see how I go without FB. I have been clean two weeks so far. Don’t get me wrong. I go to facebook often when there are commercial facebook pages, or pages for specific purpose, like my local community’s facebook webpage to see what the current progress is. But I am getting some space for myself from what my ‘friend’ ate for their 10th anniversary dinner or what they decided to name the pup they have just adopted. I sound selfish, but at least I am not faking that I care by liking their post, or posting a well meaning message, when I know deep inside, I don’t really care, and have no reason to feel obliged.
PS. They have predicted that FB will probably stop to exist soon anyway, so I am happy that I am already on the mend with my life without it…