A number of you have asked me why I have given up Facebook for 2013, so here are a few brief thoughts.
1. It’s addictive
I began to realise I was regularly spending more time checking Facebook per day than I did i) spending time with my husband, ii) working on my PhD and iii) praying. Because technology is such a huge part of all our lives now, it’s so easy to leave Facebook open hovering in the background. It had started to accompany my life in almost everything I did. I figured this could mean I was on the road to addiction, so decided to take a break.
2. It had become a medium between me and reality
What I mean by this is that I started to think in terms of status updates and photos to upload. Things almost only seemed ‘real’ if they had been uploaded to Facebook. I didn’t like that. I want life to be ‘real’ without being virtual!
3. It encourages us to post short, immediate responses to events or feelings without reflection
While this was all ok back in the day when status updates used to be about going to the shops, I’ve increasingly found this to be the most frustrating thing about the site. Most topics, particularly of a political or theological nature, deserve more than a quick ranty status update (I count myself among the guilty here). In addition, commenting on someone’s wall can turn into a 150-comment-long thread where multiple people misunderstand each other and the nature of the discussion. This doesn’t seem like constructive debate to me. Unlike on blogs dedicated to particular topics, people don’t come to Facebook with debate in mind. Often (though by no means always) this means comments do not engage with the topic in hand in a constructive way. I always find myself wanting to contribute, which inevitably leads to more confusion and misunderstanding and the need to clarify things.
4. It clutters my brain
I’ve found that I go to sleep whizzing and whirring with everyone’s views on every topic under the sun, and I can’t think straight. Life seems hectic, fast and cluttered when I use Facebook every day. I long to slow down.
5. It can be a superficial way of keeping in contact
It’s nice to have updates from friends and family, but I find that, if one of my friends is active publicly on Facebook (i.e. not via a private message), I don’t bother getting in touch with them personally.
However, I am aware that there are many positive aspects about Facebook. I miss people posting articles which I find interesting, hilarious status updates, and so on. So I’m reluctant to give it up for good. I just want to experience again what it was like pre-2005 before everyone’s lives were recorded on their ‘timelines’.
Things I do more of while having a Facebook break: writing letters, sending texts to friends, reading novels, spending more time with God, cleaning (yes, really!), writing in my diary, thinking, noticing the beauty of nature …
For a much more lucid post on the problems of Facebook, see Jonathan Lipps’ excellent summary here. See you in 2014!
(If you’re reading this via Facebook, it’s because my blog automatically updates my profile. You can link anything to Facebook these days.)