Saturday, March 03, 2012

40 Days Without Facebook

I gave up Facebook for Lent.

One of the responses I heard most when I told friends and family I was giving up Facebook for lent was, "You're going to come back to a pile of notifications." No, I replied, I'm going to click them once and refresh without checking them. 40 days without Facebook, is just that. I'm not going to play catch up, I'm just going to...let the notifications go out into the universe.

"But you can't--" Almost everyone immediately argued. Even folks who act too cool for Facebook seemed horrified. That was my first "WHOA, WHAT?" moment. I assured people, and they agreed as if a spell had been temporarily broken, that I do not have to check notifications. I'm not under contract, Facebook isn't paying me to research each of those little red tags.

I'll admit it's easier because I often get annoyed with Facebook. It's a dark secret Ryan, Gracie, Preston, and Amy know.

"But Georgia--you're on it everyday. You have almost 700 photos."

Hey, being photogenic is not a crime. And I am on Facebook almost everyday. Like most modern young people I enjoy seeing what my friends and family are up to without having to actually speak to them.

"Oh! My little cousin graduated from high school. I 'like' that."

Living 3000 miles away from my hometown does have me checking and posting on Facebook regularly. With a three hour time difference and plenty of folks to miss, it's the easiest way to keep in contact. 

However, contact does not end with Facebook. I don't even feel that cut off. Friends and family have been very supportive keeping me up to date with texts, emails, and invites. A few messages lamenting my absence have already arrived, several from my sister, and once from my friend Aaron Smith over at Screwtop Reviews who kindly wrote, "This year, I, a lifelong protestant, had to quit something for Lent. The refreshingly oddball humour of Georgia."

What an awesome compliment, that made my day! And that is the part I miss. I'm a goof, and I love to make jokes and post funny statuses. The trouble is the negativity of Facebook has made that less and less fun for me. There is always someone out there ready to start an argument or take something out of context--because it's the Internet. Preston and I have come to call the site "Fightbook".

Even so, I thought I would be lost without it. I'll admit it. I thought I would be freaking out. But I'll let you in on a secret.

It's awesome.

There is a tug, a nag, an urge to check Facebook that I did not realize had become a modern responsibility. There is a gap in interactions from this responsibility. When I saw folks this week several references were made to information I should have known, but didn't. And I was quickly filled in, and it wasn't a problem. However, it's like disconnecting from a collective hive mind. I had no idea what my friends had done all day, they had to tell me with words. Usually I would have arrived knowing who had been stuck in traffic, who had quit their job. I would have read my friend's lives without seeing their reaction or sharing mine beyond a typed smiley or sad face.

Spending the day without my nose following everyone's whereabouts feels like some new kind of rebellion. No knows what I'm doing, I don't know what anyone else is doing. Godzilla could be ripping apart Seattle right now--no, wait, that would be on Twitter. You get what I mean. If Godzilla is getting a sandwich, I don't have to hear about it.

I know that this is a self imposed practice. I know I have done this to myself, we're all doing it to ourselves. The people without Facebooks will read this with frowns, but I feel like many other folks may be reading this in between checking their own notifications. There are a lot of people checking it at least 5-10 times a day (if not more).

I'm only observing all of this and how...well, weird it is. Isn't it weird? I've been on Facebook without a break for years, and now that I step back from it cold turkey (and return to the year 2004?) I am amazed how much I don't actually like it. I knew it annoyed me, but I think there is more to it.

We'll see how I feel a month from now, I suppose.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Amy emailed me when this post was down, that she was trying to comment the following:

    "Great post, and thought-provoking. It's like the time I realized how miserable I was because I was reading four to five newspapers a day at work, and all the headlines were bad. I always defend my own facebook usage with, "But I have friends all over the country!" It's great to keep up with people, but I'm guilty of all the social media crimes.

    I was chatting with Chris the other day and she mentioned she's been emailing with you, to which I said "Me too!" Makes me wonder why we haven't been doing it all along.

    Ahh, right. Fightbook. Hmm..."

    Thank you Amy! I have to confess, part of the new charm of Facebooklessness is responding to email correspondence in the morning. It makes me feel like a Victorian lady of the space age!


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