Ironhonkey and I left Facebook not too long ago in an attempt to de-clutter our lives and remove distractions. It worked wonderfully. We no longer find ourselves staring at our phone to see what’s “going on” when we should be paying attention to our children or each other. We’re also not having pointless arguments with strangers on the internet either. Life without Facebook has been wonderful, but now there’s a problem: Facebook has become so ubiquitous to modern society that we are experiencing difficulty connecting with businesses and other like-minded individuals without it. It seems as though everyone has their community interactions, their hours of operations, hell, even their inventory, listed on Facebook with the assumption that everyone else has one, too.
Ironhonkey wants to join a few martial arts schools; their community info is all on Facebook.
I want to buy some used furniture and I’m curious about inventory; sales guy tells me to check Facebook.
We’re looking for information about extra curricular activities for our kids; Google sends us to Facebook
Hubs and I are debating whether getting back on Facebook just so we can have the ease of connecting with our local community restored–an irony that isn’t lost on either one of us–is worth the risk of getting sucked back in to monotonous phone checking. Right now, it’s a toss-up.
I never thought I would see the day that I needed the internet to be part of my hometown community, but I can understand how this came about. The Facebook business model is effectively free web hosting for everyone. Small annoying ads might be sprinkled throughout, but users and businesses have the ability to put themselves out there to the public at little or no cost. No headache web hosting and free community building? Yeah, that’s a no brainer business decision. I’ll even do it myself one day.
And lets not forget the convenience to the individual. I’m a very busy mom, wife, and student. I don’t have any time to individually call or text the people in my life I care about. Ever since I got off Facebook, I’ve lost touch with pretty much everybody I used to talk to regularly. I don’t blame them, they are busy too. Facebook effectively provides a digital town well for modern folks to congregate at to share news and create connections. Without Facebook in my life it’s like I stopped fetching my own water, so to speak.
It’s been argued by me in the past that if a relationship cannot be kept up regardless of the means available, then the relationship isn’t very strong. I still stand by that but my position has matured somewhat. I can now see how even if the connections are shallow, having a community to which one belongs is a strong drive in the human animal, and the depth of the connection isn’t so important so long as there is one. Relationships full of intimacy and deep personal meaning are not the norm for 99.9% of the relationships a person will have and maintain throughout their lifetime, regardless of Facebook, and criticizing that website for creating another potential space for lighter human connections makes as much sense as getting pissed off at the pony express.
Facebook is just another tool folks can use to connect with one another, the quality of that connection is the responsibility of the user. I totally wasn’t monitoring the quality of my connections (Hiya, random kid I knew in 3rd grade! How’s the last twenty years of your life been?) and when I did, it was for the wrong things (FU, random stranger with differing political opinions!), so naturally it sucked.
In conclusion, I guess at this point in time I’ve got to acknowledge that my Facebook boycott has had less to with Facebook and more to do with my crappy use of it. Whoops. My bad.
Does that mean that I’m going to try it again? Meh, I don’t know.
I like life without the big blue elephant in the room. I blog more. I connect more intimately with folks when I attempt a connection at all. I spend more time with my kids. When I waste time on the internet I do so on Pinterest where I find stuff to do with my time that I find worthwhile instead of wasteful.
I still have Instagram; I still have Twitter. It’s not like I’ve moved into a cave and have cut off all contact with the outside world. The changes I’ve made to my presence on the internet are ones which I feel keep the bullshit down and the value up. If at some point in the future I feel that Facebook would fit into my life without bringing my standards down, I’ll bring it back. Right now I’m on the fence about whether or not that time is now.