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March 11, 2013 - Carrie Olson
The second loss this week. Another punch to the gut, it hurts just like before. My mind can think of nothing else, as I try to hurl myself into the darkness of sleep.
Facebook. It has been a constant in my life since its inception. Dorm friends and I waited anxiously for its arrival on our campus, as it was formerly an exclusive club for university students. When rumors began to fly around that it would be arriving any day, I tried to play coy. Oh, I wouldn’t be sucked into the trappings of online social media. That is also what I said when ICQ became a mainstay on my parents’ computer, quickly replaced by MSN Messenger.
Years have passed since I created my first online profile. Photo albums document my drunken college years, while friends can browse my “like” of Joan Baez and my past directorship of the group “Gay rights for grey squirrels.” A quick glance at my page could give a glimpse of my real life, or perhaps a person could see through the painstaking persona that I have created. Thoughtful quotes from others much smarter than I, favorite movies that I have maybe watched once, and the absentia of anything indicating my age. This is the shadowy enigma that I want you to see, a shimmering illusion of who I actually am.
While I consider Facebook a valuable resource – photo sharing, keeping in touch with close family and friends, sharing my writing – it has become quite a burden as of late. Maybe it’s because I have too much free time on my hands, but I cannot seem to stop scrolling the newsfeed. I know this about so-and-so and what this person said about another woman’s photos. It’s ridiculous. Many of these people I haven’t spoken to since high school, yet here I am looking through their six-month-old’s latest photo shoot. If I ran into one of these people, I would probably embarrassingly lie that I had no clue what they were up to, but knew that they worked out for 25 minutes at their local gym yesterday.
Probably the worst aspect of Facebook is developing this crippling feeling of inadequacy. Perhaps this isn’t such a problem with other people, but I have always had this competitive edge that won’t stop. Fellow classmates, colleagues, or family members may boast of an accolade, their new house, or an upcoming wedding. While happy for them, that green-eyed monster rears it’s ugly head. That is when the questions start. Why haven’t you been able to do this? Why are you wasting your time doing nothing? It’s a class reunion every day, without the much needed booze.
I have found myself becoming a bit too obsessed with my laptop and finding out what is happening outside of my living room. When I found out that a girl I was in high school band with and a girl I worked with in college had both deleted me, I panicked. Literally, panicked. What had I done to deserve this? Did I post something offensive? Are my articles too frequently added to the newsfeed? What is wrong with me?
When I asked myself the last question, I stopped. Really, what was wrong with me? I haven’t spoken in person to either of these two people in years. They were acquaintances at best, and probably wanted to pare down their friends list. And if they did have a problem with something I had written, well, what can I do?
It has made me take pause and look at all the time and energy I have put in Facebook over the years. Too much. What could I do with that extra time, avoiding the site and others that occupy my everyday thoughts? Write more, read more, perhaps live more.
One of my best friends confided in me long ago about the problem with Facebook. She ended up completely deleting her profile and hasn’t looked back since. Of course, that has had its downsides in this Mark Zuckerberg world. Events are sometimes only posted on the site and important information gets passed down the grapevine much easier through postings.
So I’ve made a bit of a challenge for myself. Fifteen minutes or less of Facebook a day. You may roll your eyes, but it has seriously become this horrible. Cutting off cold turkey like my friend has done isn’t possible for me right now, as I do value it. But giving myself a bit of a break throughout the day will most likely free my thoughts to flow elsewhere.
Maybe I will no longer wonder why a certain family member never comments on my postings and hopefully I will stop caring so much about what you ate today.
Here’s to a fresh start with Facebook – to use as a tool and not so much as a crutch.
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