Monday, October 18, 2010

To Facebook or to NOT Facebook...that is the question

Last night I had a dream that I was missing out big time by not being on Facebook.   All my friends were on the social network (not an exaggeration real life) and I was feeling majorly left out in my dream.  In real life, I gave up FB back January, or sometime around then.  ALL my friends were on, but the fact is that the majority of them were not really friends anyway. They were friends that I had in Highschool, but that I had never talked to since graduation. There were plenty of those from college too.  It was even to the point that if there were in my high school or college, but I barely knew their last name, they were my facebook friend.  I had no problem being social and telling the events of my life to people that knew me well enough to sincerely care, but it was the hundreds of other people who were getting to know me and didn't care about me- that was bothering me.  If I didn't say anything on FB, and just checked out what everyone else was doing, I felt like a stalker.  If I was social and shared my status often on FB, I felt conscientious of everyone else stalking me.  Plus, let's be honest, when parents and relatives are on FB, it gets kind of weird.  I don't know many people who share the same kinds of things to friends as you do to your great aunt Hilda who you see only on Thanksgiving.

It was true that I was in better contact with my real friends- and even those people who I would call acquaintances, but after awhile I started to wonder if these were real connections.  After moving to a new location, I was lonely and desperate for some real friends in my new neighborhood.  I knew this wouldn't happen overnight, and I knew is very normal and I was expecting these feelings.  But I was growing impatient.   I found myself spending more time on FB, but not feeling like this was ever enough.  What I really wanted was a phone call from the friends who knew my updated FB status to the minute, but had no time to call.  I wanted to see friends and family, not just pictures on FB. 

After I quit Facebook, I suddenly needed a new outlet and started blogging more.  Blogging, however, is very different from FB.  If I write a blog, I know I am writing to a general audience and I don't include personal details and feelings that I wouldn't want a stranger knowing. Another bonus is that I have found other bloggy friends who are not anymore present to me in real life than the people on FB, but because they share their thoughts in the forms of long paragraphs and not one line sentence, I feel more connected.   It was an unexpected surprise.  Not only that, blogging has been great for business!

I can't say if facebook is real socializing or not, and I certainly don't think that blogging is real socializing, but I would say that personal emails are real socializing.   Because I get more email correspondence from people who follow my blog and people whose blog I follow than I ever did from FB friends makes me wonder how "connected" I really was in the social network, FB.  I still get the same amount of phone calls from friends and family, but now instead of saying, "oh, I saw this and that on FB." We say, "how are you doing?"  It feels more genuine to me and that's what's important. 

Now that I have friends in the area, I don't "need" facebook as much as I used to, but I there are times when I wonder how this or that person is doing and what I am missing on FB.  Those are the times, I pick up my phone and have a real conversation, or write an email and wait for a real response- in the form of paragraphs, not one-liners. 

I'm not drawing any conclusions about whether FB is good or bad, and someday, I might go back on (at least for Clay Rosaries business).  But if I do go back on for social reasons, I am going to limit my FB friends to people who I really see, talk to, or know well.

What are you thoughts on Facebook? Are you on the network? Does you think it's real socialization? If you are on FB, are you a stalker or a talker? Please share!


melody said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I have some similar feelings and am not on FB but I do blog. I did do Twitter once but really didn't like it and didn't use it. It felt forced and was pretty boring. As I said, I have never joined FB but I have had the opportunity to browse around a bit through the accounts of a couple family members. I have to say that I did feel like I was snooping. I found curiosity to be a primary motivator and felt rather silly when I was done even though I hadn't really done anything wrong...just looked at pages of people who positively would have been my FB friends if I were on.

At any rate, I've lost all desire to join FB. I really enjoy blogging though. It's not "socializing" in the traditional sense but the pace and content are more comfortable for me.

Jamie Jo said...

I blog, because I like writing to a general audience. I like getting my thoughts down and yet shared at the same time.

I like the idea sharing in blogworld. I like this sense of community we all have with blogging, picking (for me) Catholic, (mostly)homeschooling blogs.

I don't want to be in contact with someone I knew in high school...of course, I'm much older than you, but I just feel like that's the past, leave it there.

those are just my feelings. My husband likes FB though, being in touch with childhood friends, even just to say Happy birthday to someone. He is not on much though.

Julie Cragon said...

I blog each week and and by means of hootsuite my blog comes up on facebook. I do have a website for my books and use facebook to mention what is going on in my writing life. I also have a St. Mary's Bookstore page and most of my comments are invites to store events or information about new product. I have friends from my youth who enjoy reading some of my blogs that include times with them. I do have a totally different group on facebook than who follow my blog but I only check facebook a couple of times a week to see what customers have responded and who makes comments on the store.

Christina said...

Hey Sarah, I'm with you on this one,
I don't have facebook and i don't really want it... at my age EVERYBODY has it but once in a while when people ask why i don't have it, i tell them and they actually agree with me!! :)

Angela said...

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for this very thoughtful post. I have a Facebook account but have considered deleting it so many times. It feels like a big popularity contest in some ways.

I am on there less and less; it leaves me feeling like so many people are doing so many things; and I am not; I am home with kids doing day to day stuff. I know that what I see on Facebook is not the reality of most people's lives; but I can't help but feeling like I just can't compete.

The verdict is still out on whether or not I will keep my Facebook account.

I haven't felt like it as enhanced our increased my "social life" in any way, so I am not sure what the point is anymore.

Lorie said...

I signed up last year for Facebook for 1 day because my Grandma got on it..yes Grandma! But I deleted my account because it just looked too time consuming and I have four kids oldest just turned 7. Two are 18 months a part so I am really busy.
What I don't like about it is when others talk about something that was on facebook and I don't have a clue of what they are talking about. So that is a real downer. So I just assume that they are not a "true" friend if they can't even let me know what it is they are talking about.
Anyways that is just my opinion. Also, I recently heard this: replace facebook with "HIS" book. I thought that was really good. Also, I prayed for you and baby and offered some things up for you and baby. May God keep you and baby healthy.

Sarah Harkins said...

Lorie, thank you for your prayers and offerings. That is very sweet of you!

Allison said...

I've gone back and forth with FB...even give it up from time to time. I use it now, but when all my major life changes were going on (divorce, move, etc) I cut my friend list from over 200 down to about 100 - basically getting rid of anyone I wouldn't talk to in real life (i.e. those high school classmates I hadn't seen in 10 years...) I made my profile completely private so that only my friends can see anything I have posted. No one can search for me or see any part of my profile unless they are already my friend. I made it so no one can send me a friend request unless they are already a "friend of a friend".

I do enjoy FB, and have found some other like-minded people on there. It's a good way to get information about charitable organizations and activities going on in your area.

I think you can have a FB page without letting it get out of hand :)

Sarah Harkins said...

These comments are great! So far everyone who has commented is not crazy about Facebook for the social aspect.

Where are all the people on face book that love it? I know you're out there! Please share :)

Sarah Harkins said...

Allison, I like how you do facebook. It is easy to let it get out of hand- what you've done would be great advice for a lot of teenagers who let it consume their lives.

Gae said...

Dear Sarah,
OK I am on face book and I do LIKE it. I think it is very different to blogging and I enjoy the bits and pieces I share and read on my'friends' fb pages.
having said that most of the people I 'know' are people I have know through blogging and message boards. There are a few distant relies and NO school friends and some people I have 'met' through friends os friends.

I like the fact that it is really just a snippet. Often the tings I share are just not big enough for a blog post or a prayer request gets quick attention.
I also like how unlike message boards and I am on a few you don't need to nominate a topic in a specfic group.
Some of the other things I enjoy are the quotes often people say and I alays love sharing links eg. Your giveaway and Lacy's link ups etc.

I think of it as a little peek into inot my life and others (with whom I have much in common) and sometimes a little more personal than just a blog post.
No tsure if I am clear in what I am trying to say but at this stage I like fb and blogging BUT they are entirely different.

Many blessings

I hope you are still gettting plenty of rest

Sarah Harkins said...

Gae, thank you for your comment! I think it's great that you are enjoying it and get the best things from being on facebook!

tomschulzte said...

Oh my gosh- you are not on facebook?! You know, if you are not on facebook, you really don't exist!
Haha, just kidding.
Heard a talk from a professor at UST the other day, who talked about electronic relationships. He said that it is a mediocre friendship. Good things can come of facebook, and obvisouly, bad things. But, it is a mediocre way of living. So, if you want to live a life of excellence (i.e. striving for sainthood), you should decide if you really want to spend your time with mediocre activities. Thoughts?

Elisa said...

I can see why you don't really need facebook. I, on the other hand, am married to a soldier, so ever since I was married nearly 6 years ago, I have lived so far from my parents, family and close friends. My husbands family is huge and live far from us as well. So for us, facebook is about sharing photos, keeping in touch, keeping up to date with family and some friends too. I periodically will go through my "friends" and erase the ones I have zero interaction with. It's lovely that we were friends in high school, but if we don't ever talk to one another and live completely different lives, why stay in touch?

Holly said...

Ok now that I'm just keeping up on electronic media OTHER than facebook and my work emails, I have to admit, having friends and contacts on facebook makes life and keeping in contact much easier. I rarely have the time to sit down and read blogs (although I'm making a point to catch up on everything during slow days), and phone calls have been taking 3-5 days to follow up on, facebook updates take seconds, and I do them when I'm waiting for a page to load or an email to come through.

For those of us who have to work outside the home, and who rely heavily on electronic media for marketing and communications, facebook is a great way to mainstream contact.

And it doesn't have to be a popularity contest--it's an easy way to collect rsvp's for events (like the feed the homeless day I'm sponsoring in Pittsburgh), see what's happening in people's lives (like baby pictures), and know how and what to pray for the people who God places in our lives, for 3 hours, 5 years, or six decades. Facebook and electronic media has made our world smaller, and it should certainly be kept in check. Love.

Sarah Harkins said...

Word, Holly! Love you!