When I think of all of the relationships in my life, I generally start with my parents, siblings, children, friends, and co-workers. On days when I contemplate the subject even more, I might include my doctor, my mail carrier, and my neighbors. Recently I started to think about how much time I spend with all of these people. Do I see all of them face to face every day? Do I call them every day and talk with them voice to voice, so I can listen to the emotion they might project in the sound I hear? No—and—no, I do not. I get up, text my youngest sister good morning, and receive texts on my way into work. When I get to work I start my computer, and while I wait for it to load up, I check my email on my phone. My home page was Facebook, so EVERY morning I would get a never-ending stream of other people’s status—some VERY personal, some funny, some offensive, and some sad. I get real news from The Huffington Post, and fake news from The Onion. I get spiritual messages from the Dalai Lama and political messages from every cause I have ever supported.
I turned Facebook on in the morning and it was the last thing I saw before I went to bed at night. With all the time I invested in my relationship with Facebook, we should have been engaged, or at least it should have been buying me dinner or drinks, whisking me away for a romantic weekend. It had become my life partner. Now, if FB was a person, a partner, a friend—and all I did was read, listen to, and participate with them morning, noon, and night – my family, children, and co-workers would be concerned that I was losing myself in this relationship. And they would be right.
If I WANT to know what is going on in my sisters’ lives, friends’ lives, or the Dalai Lama’s life, I can make that happen. I can call my sister and hear in her voice that she has had a tough day. I can visit her and find out that something hysterical happened to her and I would hear her laugh AND I would get the opportunity to laugh with her—instead of seeing “lol : o”
When I started my relationship with Facebook it was to stay connected, to be informed about everything that was going on, and to feel like a part of something that was worldwide. What I came to know is that connection no longer meant “personal” to me. Everyone, everywhere on my “list” knew everything, not just about me, but about others as well. My excitement and anticipation of the little red quote icon over my comments, messages, or invites started to feel the same as when I was a smoker and couldn’t wait to get outside to light one. It felt like an addiction to a harmful substance.
So I quit—cold turkey. As I write this, it has been 24 hours, 2 minutes, and 35 seconds since I posted my last status, and I can feel my connection to reality coming back. I am now five times more likely to smile when I see you, 10 times more likely to laugh at the jokes you tell, and 20 times more likely to really listen to what you have to say.