I feel like leaving Facebook. I’m not exactly sure why. I just have this vague not-quite-right feeling so…

I open my computer, sign into my account and type in the words, “I have decided to leave Facebook.” I have announced my intention to the world… or at least to my 176 friends.

Fifteen or so people respond, all saying they’ll miss me. Some say they understand. Is this undefinable fed-up-with-Facebook feeling common? I wonder: Will my other 161 friends not miss me? I think perhaps some will. Maybe some of them just didn’t see my status.

I must admit I don’t see and read all my friends’ updates either. There is such a huge volume of information passing through my feed every day. I’d be on the computer for hours keeping up to date. Already I spend far too long online. Maybe this is part of the reason I have decided to leave Facebook.

So many friends. So many status updates… Is it really possible to have a meaningful relationship with all my Facebook friends? And if not, what’s the point of being friends?

Sometimes I think about a particular friend and hop over to his or her wall to catch up with all the news. I usually stop and say hello. I have made a connection which helps to maintain the bonds of friendship. And I like this about Facebook.

But sometimes I hop over to a particular friend’s wall and find I am no longer a friend. I have been (shock! horror!) unfriended. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. I should expect such things to happen. That’s the nature of Facebook. But still it does hurt a little. I think, “Why? What did I do wrong? Did I upset someone?”

It’s quite possible I did nothing wrong. Someone is just pruning back his/her friends’ list and I missed the cut. My only failing is not being a close enough friend.

Yes, our friends’ list can grow and grow and become unmanageable and maybe it’s good to unfriend a friend or two every now and then. Yet, somehow I don’t like that idea.

There are however a lot of people on my friends’ list who are suitable candidates for unfriending. Doesn’t that sound awful? So who would I unfriend (theoretically, you understand)?

For a start, all those people I don’t know anything about. Sometimes I look at the names on my friends’ list and I wonder who some of them are. Why was she so keen to be my ‘friend’? He has never actually spoken a word to me. They never even said, “Thank you for accepting my friend request.” Did they really want to be my friend or am I just a number on their list?

That’s the problem with Facebook: some people just want to collect as many ‘friends’ as possible.

But still I don’t like the whole concept of unfriending.

Or perhaps some friends just enjoy reading my posts quietly. Maybe I also do that sometimes, if I am being entirely honest.

Facebook is not all bad though. In fact I like many things about it. I have made a lot of good friends online who I will miss when I close my account. I think about this. I continue typing my status update:

 “If anyone wants to stay in touch, we could swap email addresses.” And a few friends do send me their details. But I wonder: will we really stay in touch?

Do you remember when we all used to write snail mail letters? Then emails came along. Much quicker and easier. No longer any need to write a proper letter. But now we have Facebook posts. Type a few words and our comment can be read by loads of friends… all 176 or more (if they have time to read their whole feed). No longer any need to write an individual email. It is sad but somehow I don’t think emails will help me stay in contact with everyone, despite good intentions. Inevitably, I will lose some friends.

I have a further thought. lf I close my Facebook account… and my Sue Elvis Writes page and my grief blog page and my Bush Boys page…  I will probably lose a lot of blog readers:

“Sue, I like seeing your blog post notifications in my feed. It makes reading your blogs easy.” Yes, Facebook is easy.

“You could subscribe to my blogs by email,” I suggest. But will they? Or will people just stop reading my blogs? Should I stay on Facebook? No. I can cope with less blog readers.

This morning I open up my computer. I sign into Facebook… automatically. I scroll down the feed.

Oh look! S has a cute new haircut. I like! I click ‘like’. I scroll further down the page. S has had a good day. She’s run a mile at top speed. I again like! I type: “S, do you want to increase your distance or speed or both?” I love discussing running with S.

I notice two friends are celebrating birthdays so I send them happy birthday greetings.

S replies to my comment and I ‘like’.

I ‘like’ a few other comments too, and then I remember…

I’m deleting my Facebook account. I have announced that intention. What am I doing here chatting to my friends? It’s time to move on. It’s time to sign out. And I am just about to do that when I notice someone has ‘liked’ my Sue Elvis Writes page. I smile. It’s not every day someone likes my page. This is special. Then I stop smiling. What will my new page fan think when my page disappears as soon as she ‘likes’ it?

I sign out of Facebook, close my computer and sit thinking. Do I really want to delete my Facebook account? But that vague fed-up and not-quite-happy-about-Facebook feeling returns. I have a dilemma. A Facebook dilemma. 

I again think about that lovely person who liked my Sue Elvis Writes page. That's special. I think about S and her running. I want to hear about her next run. I also want to read all the news when everyone returns from the homeschooling sleeping-in-tents camp. And I have things to share too. I never did tell my funny confession app story.

Perhaps I can take my time resolving this dilemma. No hurry to make a decision. There's plenty of time... In the meantime, would you like to hear my funny confession app story?
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  1. I never got comfortable with Facebook so I didn't miss it when I deleted my account but I can relate to your feelings with blogging. I didn't realise how much of my life was taken up with blogging until I stopped blogging so often. I wonder if the uneasy feeling has something to do with feeling controlled by these social networks. It's a control that isn't there is normal relationships, I think, but maybe it just needs a sense of detachment to work okay, do you think?

    So, what's the funny confession app??!!

    God bless, Sue:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      I don't think I feel controlled by Facebook. It's quite easy to get involved or not sign in at all. I can like a few comments or stop to have a conversation or just read.

      What I think contributes to the uneasy feeling is the whole definition of 'friend'. Friends aren't necessarily friends any more. I really do have a few 'friends' I know absolutely nothing about. They are just names on my list.

      Then there's always the risk I might be unfriended. That doesn't happen in face to face friendships. Rarely does anyone shut you out of their life so suddenly. With Facebook this is so easy to do. It feels like a door has been closed in your face.

      Then I realise that most of my friends will only be my friends as long as I am on Facebook.

      But saying all that, I still love a lot of things about FB. And it seems to be the way most people communicate. It's either join in or be left out of the circle. I can survive outside the circle but it's good to connect with people who have a similar interest or are working for the same cause.

      Still thinking about this one!

      The confession app story? That's a FB story. Just have to decide whether it really is funny or whether I will be laughing on my own!

      Delete
  2. Ahhh-Facebook seems wrought with dilemmas for so many of us. I wrestled with my use of it, with the pros and cons, with the lack of balance I had towards it. I ultimately took the issue to prayer and felt strongly that God wanted me to quit. Amazingly, after the first few weeks, I did not miss it and I have found that the few friendships I really wanted to continue and nurture are stronger now. We have to consciously put a little more effort into finding out what is going on in each other lives and that has deepened the friendship.

    I really think it is a personal decision though and everyone needs to figure out what is best for them. Facebook, like anything else, can be wonderful if keep it in moderation and use it properly. Good luck with your decision. Hope you are doing well!

    God Bless, Kari

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    1. Kari,

      As I was writing this post, I was thinking about you. I remember your own FB post which gave me lots to think about. I remember you telling us how you didn't just deactivate your account, but actually deleted it forever. Yes, sometimes it is good to make what feels like the right decision and stick with it by getting rid of temptation.

      What is really swaying me is the kind comments asking me to stay because my posts will be missed. I didn't actually think I was posting anything worth reading, so it was kind of nice to hear that. Sometimes we think about FB in terms of 'what am I getting out of it?' and maybe we should be thinking instead, 'what can I give to FB?' I guess that is the same with all friendships. There is a lot of potential with FB to spread joy, share good stuff, encourage each other, pray for people... There's good among the bad. I guess it just depends on how we use it.

      We are doing well, thank you! We're enjoying a relaxing break. The weather is beautiful. Life is good!

      I've been wondering how your book sales are going and your book study guide. I must chat to you properly soon!

      God bless!

      Delete
  3. Sue - I deleted my Facebook account...hrm...six months or so ago? Honestly, I don't miss it. The 'friends' I made still email, and the ones that don't, I was never close to anyway. I call it and Pinterest both "The Great Time Wasters" :) They have their place, especially for artists and professional bloggers, but I personally just don't have time for them anymore.

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    1. Angela,

      You are quite right. FB can take up a lot of time if I'm not careful. Generally I log on and just have a quick look, but I might do this several times a day because the feed moves so quickly.

      I would still keep up with local friends if I deleted my account, but I think I'd miss the contact with friends overseas. Also I network with a few groups using FB.

      A couple of years ago I deleted my account, and like you, I didn't miss FB. But these days my life is a lot more complicated. I wish it wasn't. I am sure technology isn't simplifying our lives at all but making them more difficult!

      Lovely to hear from you!

      Delete
  4. Sue I have more to say but not enough time right now....but do want to hear the story!! :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Amanda,

      I will tell the story but maybe you'll be disappointed when you hear it!

      Glad you stopped by!

      Delete
  5. Hi Sue,

    I never did get on FB - too many reasons to mention ;-) Anyway, I see that you posted in my Google reader. I'm sure they'll have something similiar even when iGoogle goes away next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beate,

      I am wondering why iGoogle is discontinuing. I like my iGoogle page, and all the blogs set out where I can easily see new posts. I haven't tried Google reader. Perhaps I should.

      You are very sensible never joining FB. Keep your life simple. I initially joined so I could share FB with my teenagers and young adults. I once went to a talk where it was suggested that parents should be their children's FB friends. But now my kids hardly ever go on and post anything. FB has become more Mum's thing!

      Delete
    2. Yes, the dc being there has pulled me a bit - but they aren't active either. Years ago, my sis and I started a Xanga blog so we could converse with our then blogging teens and their friends. I miss those teen posts ;-)
      I like my iGoogle also - esp when one of the kids comes in and changes the background to some funky theme just to make me smile ;-)

      Delete
  6. Hi Sue,

    What a dilemma! I can understand that the internet is a good way to keep in touch with friends that you don't see often (like us) or live a great distance away.

    Friendships of all levels require effort to maintain. The more friends you have the more work there is. The FB term 'friend' should instead read 'aquaintance' or 'contact'. To use FB to maintain friendships can be productive if you only 'friend' those with which you want to work at a friendship. It doesn't need to be either all or nothing.

    I hope this gives you another perspective. :-)

    All the best with your decision.

    Gerard

    PS I don't know which patron saint would be appropriate to ask for aid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gerard,

      Yes, I do like keeping in touch with friends like you and Lisa. FB is good for that. But I actually got unfriended by a good friend I don't see often. She had her reasons and I can understand them but it made me think about the whole concept of FB. Unfriending is such a sad word. Though if I were to only have good friends on my FB list, I would have to do a lot of unfriending myself.

      I use FB to network with people supporting the bereaved. I have authors and bloggers on my list who have helped me, unschooling Catholics I discuss stuff with... it didn't take me long to gain a few friends! People have been generous opening their circles to me. Now my life is a little complicated!

      Yes, friendships need work and the more friends, the more work needed, I agree. I guess it depends on whether I want to use FB only for friends or also to network and make contacts.

      The other day I just wanted to get rid of the whole FB dilemma by deleting my account. Maybe as you said, it doesn't, have to be all or none.

      There must be a patron saint of the internet at least. I was quite amused to find out that St Clare is the patron saint of TV. It didn't make any sense until I heard she could see Mass without actually travelling to the location it was being celebrated. I think that is the story but I quite often get stories in a muddle and misquote them!

      God bless!

      Delete
    2. I should have added that some of my 'friends' who started off as contacts or fellow net workers, have become real friends. We have shared so much, we have got to know each other well. So even distinguishing between friends and contacts can get complicated!

      Delete
  7. :)

    I used to have 700 FB friends. I have cut back to about 100. I can't even keep up with that many! Many, whom I have lovely friendships with, I have been neglecting for a lack of time. Many days I don't even have time to read more than a few 'zips' down the feed. Like you, I will pop on a friend's page to see how they are. I have no blogged in eons, and I've not read anyone elses. :( I wonder why I stay on, since I am such a neglectful friend. But, when I can get on and spend some time, I do like going and seeing how my friends are. That's nice. Sort of like popping in... sometimes for 'tea', and sometimes just a look to make sure they're still there, seemingly happy and that all is well... and that's enough to know that person is doing well... even if I don't have time to really 'visit'. I do still care! (I realize I probably sound horrible... I don't mean to!)

    I wonder if I left, would more than five of them even miss me? I have taken occasional breaks from FB... and I found that not being able to look in and say hi was something I missed. Just a habit maybe? No. Our of my 100 "friends", some of you lovely folks truly ARE friends... and even if I don't have time to talk as I'd like, it's so nice to know that they are "there"... and inspiring me and others. These friends often times bless me in so many ways... and they don't even realize how, because it's done so simply. Giving that FB list a "haircut" is a first step. If they have never bothered to say "boo" to you, then clearly they are not a friend. I don't delete 'willy nilly'. Each is a consideration... 'why' to keep or 'why' not. I do have a few "obligation" "friends", but most are there because they're someone I care about, and want to be able to reach out and clasp their hand sometimes, and know that when I squeeze their hand... I'll get that warm squeeze back. And that, my dear Sue, is why I have stayed. :)

    I hope you stay. ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan,

      Well, I'm still on FB at the moment! I had a lovely time this morning popping into your wall and exchanging a few comments, giving and receiving a few pokes. Yes, I would miss you if I left FB.

      Today I discovered a close friend has deactivated her account. I am one friend down! That doesn't worry me though because that particular friend phones me at regular intervals. But I know it would be harder to stay in contact with other friends if I left FB.

      700 friends down to 100? Wow! I wonder if that took very long to do. I'd sit there being very indecisive, and then I'd worry about upsetting someone.

      We certainly wouldn't be friends if it wasn't for FB because that's where I met you. Yes, FB has it's good points!

      Thank you for stopping by and saying hello.

      Delete
  8. I should have proof-read before I posted!! Ugh!! I honestly do have better English and spelling that that! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, I didn't even notice the errors. I was too busy enjoying your comment!

      Delete
  9. Hi Sue,
    I've been thinking about deleting my Facebook page too. I'm a bit embarrassed that I barely ever go on there. Truth is - it eats up too much time and I like Blogger better (though I'm behind on that too).

    I loved your Confession App story! Did you really forget the password? Lol! Everything has a password these days and it drives me nuts :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Mary,

      I thought I hadn't seen much of you on FB recently. The last posts of yours I remember were the ones where you were poking Victor and he couldn't work out how to poke someone back!

      Yes, I really did forget my confession app password. I have tried so many possibilities with no result. I just can't imagine what it is. I have a notebook full of usernames and passwords (the confession one isn't in there). Every time I see a site that requires me to sign up with a username I groan, and unless I am really interested, I just keep moving. I can't keep up with them all. They drive me nuts too!

      Delete
  10. I just unfriended a bunch of people I don't even know. Once I started joining facebook groups, some people from the groups that I don't even know request to be my friend. And I accepted. But then I will get their status updates and think to myself: "Who are you, and why are you on my facebook?" So, it sounds rude, but I unfriended them. I figure they will not notice, but if they do, I hope they understand that I just want to keep my facebook personal. That is why I created a page for my blog. So that people don't have to be my personal friend to get my blog updates via facebook. You will be happy to know, Sue, you made the cut. I never even thought of unfriending you, because even though we've never met in person, I do consider you my real life friend. You are good about "keeping the conversation" going and I like that. But there are so many people out there who don't make the little 3 second effort to say hello or to leave a blog comment. Then you lose touch. Anyways. Those are my 2 cents. =) I will always keep my facebook, but I don't feel like I have to check it all the time. Well, I do now b/c Andrew is deployed, but once he is home, I won't be on so much.

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    1. Elisa,

      I love your honest words! And I'm so glad I made the cut!! I consider you my real friend too. I think we were real friends before we were FB friends.

      I created a FB page for my blog too but I find it so hard to convince my friends to 'like' it. I'm not very good at promoting myself. Other people have really successful pages but I get reluctant to ask people to support me. Most readers from FB follow links from my personal wall. Perhaps that's the reason: if I only had my notifications on my FB blog page maybe more people would support it.

      "Keeping the conversation going"? That's what friends do. Some of my FB 'friends' haven't even started talking yet. But maybe there's a reason... I have a few friends that were suggested for me, and my requests were kindly accepted. I do feel rather shy about getting involved in their conversations though as if I am the outsider. This is all very silly because friends are supposed to comment!

      I've been thinking about your husband coming home and feeling excited for you as the weeks tick away. I keep you in my prayers!

      God bless.

      Delete

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