I can’t imagine growing up in the Facebook generation.
I’m in my thirties and it still scares me how much it affects social interaction. People make plans on Facebook—they bitch about their kids on Facebook.
My Dad’s told me since I was a kid to “be careful what you put into writing,”—there’s something pretty valid in this.
I won’t ever complain about my child on some money-driven technological device that whores out friendship and popularity—but I’m also not ready to give it up either.
I know, I know, I hear it often: “I think I’m just going to quit.” I mean, we talk about Facebook like it’s our worst addiction, and maybe it is because no one ever does, quit Facebook, that is—but I’m here to offer an explanation for this.
I joined Facebook reluctantly when Myspace was still booming. You can probably tell that I’m no longer in my teens or twenties when I tell you that I had some sort of naive loyalty to Myspace (or that I was on Myspace in the first place). Still, my younger siblings were over there, you know, on that other site.
So I took up with Facebook for the same reason that I began partaking in social networking in the first place—to interact with long-distance loved ones.
Sure, Myspace had music, and that was actually what I spent most of my time doing—finding new bands and listening to them while I finished homework or cleaned the house.
Then, just like that, no one was on Myspace anymore. It was a virtual ghost town. Meanwhile, Facebook became so cool that they made a movie about it.
A little while afterward, I began writing.
Initially I wrote as a journalist for a local newspaper, and this segued into writing a weekly yoga column. From here I got into blogging, and, obviously, I currently adore writing for elephant journal, and, let me tell you, Facebook—and other social networking sites—are perfect for sharing my work with friends, family and global readership at large.
Now, I basically log on in order to share my latest articles, but I still love seeing pictures of my far-off friends’ kids.
I love hearing about so-and-so’s funny dry cleaning moment or reading your latest articles from the links that you post.
I could do without seeing pictures of sandwiches next to super-sized cocktails.
I also don’t feel the need to know that you were at such-and-such pub with Suzy, as is indicated by your regular location updates via your smartphone.
Still, I can’t help it. I’m a sucker, because I absolutely spend way too much time reading about your dog’s raunchy gas or your grandma’s birthday party. In fact, most of the time I realize that I ate up an entire thirty minutes of my morning for no real reason at all. All I did was see ten pictures of Suzy’s kids at the park.
Regardless, there’s a reason beyond cyber stalking that people all over the world connect via Facebook—it’s free, it’s (occasionally) fun, and everyone else does it.
Which brings me back to my original thought—I cannot imagine growing up in this generation, and all that follow, who are raised with these types of phony interactions as not only normal but as expected.
Growing up was challenging enough.
I feel like a geek when I hop on Facebook, and I’m an adult! (Which is why I think so many people say they want to be done with all of this in the first place.)
You get into adulthood and you hope that your comparing-yourself-to-your-high-school-classmate days are over.
No one wants to be thirty-something and feel left out because you weren’t invited to a party or because they look like they’re having more fun than you are. Well, then what are we supposed to do?
I’ll tell you. It’s simple. It’s exactly what happened to Myspace—something better will come along.
I’ve been waiting a little while now for this something better, and I’ve found a couple of things.
1. Closing my laptop, ignoring Facebook and taking my daughter to the park, and then not posting ten pictures of it. (I’ll be conservative with three.)
2. Doing my dishes. Okay, this is not better, but I feel accomplished afterwards, as opposed to my time-wasting on Facebook.
3. Read a book to my daughter. (If you don’t have children, then go read a g.d. book yourself.)
4. Remember that not all memories have to be shared and viewed by others. Often the best memories can’t be captured by film and shouldn’t be shared beyond the people experiencing it.
Why do I want to stay on Facebook then?
Come to think about it, I love getting in touch with the people that I can’t easily visit or even chat with (like my wonderful pal in Sweden). Yes, I could do without all of the juvenile comparison and insecurity that it stirs up within me, but that’s partially my own fault.
At the same time, just because I don’t want to “quit” Facebook, doesn’t mean that it has to control my life.
If I’m lucky, you possibly found this article because you saw elephant’s links on the related sites. I’m getting what I need out of it. I’m getting to share those pictures of my litle girl at the park with my sister across the state. I’m getting to connect with other readers and other writers. I don’t need to be one of those people who complains about my marriage or my run-down apartment and life—but I guess that these are other voids that some people are filling here too.
I’m not technically growing up in the online era, but I’m in it. You’re in it. Ignoring that doesn’t make it go away. Online interaction is here to stay. (My bank is even forcing my business online!) Let’s not be ostriches and pretend that we can stick our heads in the sand, but let’s also not allow something as shallow as a social networking site to dictate our lives and our self-esteem.
Easier said than done, I’m aware, when gorgeous photographs and bubbly, cutesie blurbs are constantly parading around us.
Why do you take the time to connect with other people in scenes like this? I’m decently confident that it’s because you’re getting something from it; something like connectedness and togetherness.
We need each other. We are social beings. We need love, and we need attention.
What I’m wondering is if it’s possible for us to begin turning to that person sitting over there on the couch, you know, the one you married, for that love and affection instead of turning to virtual strangers.
Are you giving and receiving the love that you need to actual people?
I know I’m guilty; there are definitely times I could show my husband a little more attention. He deserves it. He’s one of those people who finally joined Facebook years after the rest of us already had, and he constantly regrets it. He’s someone who wants to leave Facebook—and he’s someone who knows the value of real life and of friendships based in reality instead of on a small screen that could drop and break at a moment’s notice.
I’m always trying to live up to his wonderful doting and regular showers of praise and love. To me, it makes sense that he’s annoyed with something as shallow as the third close-up of your face.
And he might leave eventually. And I might too.
I don’t pretend to know what the future holds, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re not going back—and that’s okay by me, because I don’t actually plan on leaving Facebook anytime soon.
After all, what would we do with all that spare time…
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Ed: Bryonie Wise