Hi, my name is Jami and I am a Facebook-oholic.
I invite you to read an article from April in the New York Times called “The Flight of Conversation.” You can find the link here: http://ow.ly/cZPgn. The article describes this time of being so connected on social media networks yet people feeling very alone. Texting, e-mailing, Facebook, Twitter have all allowed us to edit our lives and let them appear much better than they really are. The technology and instant connections that it offers allows us to keep relationships just where we want them – not to close, not to far, but just right. The author calls this the “Goldilocks effect.”
The irony of me writing this post is that I am absolutely guilty of most of the behaviors described in this article (except for the one about texting while still looking a person in the eye, if we are having a conversation – you have all of my attention!).
The minute my family gets in the car, I pull out my iPhone. (Husband is driving, of course!) It doesn’t matter that I just got off Facebook on my laptop five minutes before we walked out the door, I still check it the minute I get in the car. I go to my Twitter account after I’ve started seeing Facebook posts twice. There isn’t any conversation between my husband and me unless he’s telling me very loudly that the kids are trying to get my attention.
After the kids go to bed, I’m on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest while trying to catch up on episodes of Breaking Bad. Guess how much my husband and I talk to each other at night? Not much. (See a pattern?)
What has Facebook really taught me? The more I engage with my “friends” on Facebook, the more I dis-engage with my real-life, everyday relationships including my spouse and my children.
As the article reads, “people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people – carefully kept at bay.” I’ve always been a social butterfly so I’m very comfortable on Facebook. I share what most people do on Facebook: articles, blogs, pictures of my kids, etc. On the flip side, I love seeing and reading all of the posts from my “friends.” It’s been a great way to re-connect with old classmates, friends, colleagues, neighbors and those whom I just put in the “other” category.
Facebook is easy for me. It’s the electronic, quicker version of actual eye-to-eye relationships. It’s easy to sit behind a screen under the illusion of having a real relationship with people you never actually see. It’s easy to express empathy or excitement when the status update occurs because I don’t have to look in their eyes to actually see the emotion. It’s a quick little response of concern or whatever the case may be. That’s not to say that I’m not genuinely concerned – I am. I only say it’s “easy” because you can show your emotion without needing to clean up anything messy or spending any more than three seconds on your statement. You don’t have to really engage.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my relationships and wondering, what’s wrong? What could possibly be my fault? Everyone on Facebook “likes” my photos and my updates. I couldn’t really see my role in this until it occurred to me driving home that I was getting so much positive response to my posts that I was spending all of my extra time there because it was building me up. It’s just so easy there, but I was ignoring the real people in my life and that is never okay. So, if you don’t see me as often or as regularly on Facebook, know that I’m spending it with my real-life family – I’ve missed them.