November of 2007 is when I first opened a Facebook account, and I was hooked on social networking. As I got older and I gained more and more friends through gaming and having the same account for nearly four years, I found that the only way I connected with people was through Facebook. When I was around my friends and wanted to share some good news, they already knew about it because of Facebook.
Then, when I was engaged, things got weird. Someone took advantage of the information I had posted on Facebook to harass me. So I blocked her. The breaking point came when my fiancé and I went out to eat, and this person showed up at the same restaurant. Granted, I had updated my status saying where we were going for the evening right before we left. But since I had already blocked her, I thought I was safe to post those details of my life.
After that night I started wondering how much I actually needed Facebook. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was addicted to Facebook. I was addicted to immediate information and pretending to be connected with 400+ people when in reality I didn’t know half of them. So, I deleted my Facebook account. And my Twitter and Photobucket account. (Who else remembers Photobucket?) I deleted all my online accounts except for Amazon and my email.
And you know what I learned?
I became closer to the people who were closest to me. Sure I struggled at first because I’d pull up my web browser and automatically go to Facebook before realizing that I didn’t have an account anymore.
In the mornings my routine went from: coffee, Facebook, food, to: coffee, face- oh wait I deleted my account, food. I felt a little removed from my friends and felt like I didn’t know what was happening anymore. Then I learned that the ones who really wanted me in their lives called me, or went out of their way to spend time with me. Slowly my lifestyle changed from fast-paced-connected to slow-down-and-enjoy. And I loved it.
After the wedding I’ll admit that I relapsed. My excuse is that I could think of no better way to share the honeymoon and wedding pictures. So I started over and got a new account. What I found was that nothing was different. I also found that instead of enjoying breakfast in the mornings with my new husband I was on my laptop seeing what the new drama was. OH THE EVERLOVING-DRAMA!
One morning in March my husband got up from the table and I didn’t even realized it until he was about to walk out the door. I was right back where I had started the July before. I was right where I didn’t want to be. I was ignoring real life for internet life. I woke up and said “No really guys, I’m done with Facebook.” And I don’t regret it.
It’s more than just banning social networking sites and it’s not because Facebook uses your information to sell you stuff. It’s about knowing what is important in your life and what distracts you from those things. It’s about knowing what your personal limits and needs are. I know that I get addicted to new fun things, and I need to keep that in check.
I also know that if I’m going to ever be a successful adult I need to keep my priorities straight. I don’t really have room to be dealing with Candy Crush and “OMG did you see so-and-so’s status update? She is so mean.”
Take a moment to think about your priorities and consider the ways in which social media may actually be making many anti-social in real life.