My relationship with Facebook is the same as every other mid-thirties mom I know: We love seeing pictures and hearing about the daily lives of friends and family far away. We hate how it becomes a time drain and leaves us feeling like we suddenly look up from our phone to realize we just wasted 45 minutes scrolling through things that we either don’t care about or that rile us up and make us angry (Hello 2016 Presidential Campaign!), or just perfectly simple updates that are fun to see but don’t really shape our lives in any important way. 90% of what I read is just Noise or Niceties.
So we delete the Facebook app from our phones for a while, until we miss seeing pictures of our cute nieces and nephews, or something happens in our own lives that we want to share, and pretty soon we’re sucked right back into the time wasting.
And then there’s the discussion about social media presenting everyone’s best side, and driving us to comparison and discontent. I don’t mean to be a part of perpetuating that part of social media, and only showing the bright and shiny side of our life…. but based on the real life comments of “Your family is so fun!” and “Your kids are so sweet!” or “Your home is so pretty!” from Facebook friends who are just casual acquaintances in real life, and have never even been in my home or been around my kids longer than 2 seconds, I have to admit I’m unwittingly part of the problem. I think I’m fairly transparent that my life is not perfectly tied up in a sweet bow, but it seems that’s the image I project despite my best efforts.
Relationships really matter to me. I am a friend girl. I like to know about peoples lives, and connect with them and learn from them. But is Facebook really helping me do that? Maybe? In some small way? But recently I’ve tried to change how I’m using Facebook, to add more value:
-if I see a post from a local friend and think “I haven’t connected with her in a while…”, I try and make a date right then. Set up a time to have coffee, a gym date (ha), or invite their family over for dinner.
-if I see a post from a faraway friend, whom I can’t connect with in person, I try and send that friend a text or an email. I can ask them more in depth questions about whatever it was I might have commented on or “liked”, and we can start a back and forth dialogue better done between two people than our entire friends list. Those text convos stray from the initial topic, can spread out over a few days, and bring me a lot of joy.
-if I would never in a million years do either one of those things – arrange to see that “friend” in person, or text/email them a personal message, I often “hide” them from my timeline. It’s not that I don’t care about that person and might not want to check back in with them occasionally, its just that I only have so much time in the day. Scrolling thru the posts of people with whom I’d never connect in real life is one of the things that gives me that “UGH. I have just wasted so much time” feeling.
Here’s to trying to enjoy social media, while not letting it become a beast of burden. Possible? I hope so. I sure do love those pictures and updates of my nieces and nephews and my besties’ kids who are spread all over the globe. Makes this Oklahoma girl in a Tennessee world feel a little bit closer to home.