Tuesday, March 16, 2010

30 Days without Facebook: What I learned

Let me break it down:

30 days ago I decided to take a chance and basically commit social suicide.
I logged off Facebook...and stayed off...for 30 whole days.

The reason: Facebook had been getting on my nerves.
And by "Facebook", I mean the people on Facebook.
And by "getting on my nerves", I mean driving me up a flippin' wall.

Look. I friended these people. I know it's partially my fault.
But when it comes down to it, it wasn't really the people themselves that was grating on me.
It was their "Facebook alter ego". The super condensed and mostly fictional version of themselves they choose to parade all over the Internet.

But that's not even the reason I got off.

The reason I took a breather from the whole situation is because I was beginning to play the same game.

Social Networking is basically my type of person's ideal social set-up (remember that whole INTJ post? Yeah, we don't like social interaction much).

1. You get to choose who you want to interact with.
2. You don't actually have to interact with people.
3. There is an ignore button.
4. You decide when and how you want to say something.
5. There is an ignore button (are you getting this?!).

Online interaction is quick, efficient, and completely fake.
And when I began to measure the value of my day by how many people "liked" my status, that was it.

Log off, shut down, stash away.

The first few days were interesting.
It seems I had so conditioned myself that as soon as I was on the Internet, my first knee-jerk reaction was to click the Facebook tab.

How pathetic, I sneered to myself. I shall make a model of self-discipline out of you yet, weakling...
(actual conversation between myself and I was slightly less epic and demeaning)

And I admit it. The glory to be gleaned from self-denial and discipline was part of the draw.
What can I say, I'm a weirdo. I like testing myself.
I like to know my limits, and occasionally go the next step.

But before I sound grander than I actually am, the majority of these test included:
Trying not to fly into a mad stomping fest when a huge bug threw itself in my vicinity, not showing any sign of pain when I pour rubbing alcohol on my occasional cut, and seeing how long I can go with out "going".

Kid stuff.
But this was the real test. The big trial. The tribulation the Bible foretold!
Except...it wasn't...
At all.

After I got over the initial change of not logging on every time life began to lull, I began to see just how much I missed.
I'm not trying to make this sappy and all moral-y, but this is just what I found.

I didn't miss anything those 30 days. My friends that live nearby found other ways to communicate (remember talking on the phone, or even stopping in for a visit?).
My other friends that live far away just called or did without.

And no, I do not "do" Farmville (or any other game that promotes narcotic behavior).
So no, I wasn't having to endure fitful nights over the fact that 'ole Betsy hadn't been milked or the chickens had probably been eaten by the yeti, or whatever it is that happens to your (totally non-existent and completely fictional) farm after 24 hours of not slaving--I mean playing.

The point is, I no longer needed (or felt that I needed) a website to be "connected".
If people want me, they'll find me. That is my motto.
That and "Chuck E Cheese is a thug" (four hundred tokens and all I can get is a a Tootsie roll?Are you insane?!).

In the end though, it's not Facebook I've learned to do without.
It's my need for it.

I'm back on for now.
I still have a few friends and situations that would benefit from my having that method of conversation available.
But it's definitely not the same.

In my grandest of dreams, I hope this whole "online connections" deal will just go away, and the days of the written letter will be resurrected.
Remember those? No, not junk mail. Actual hand written notes from people you know?
It's been that long, huh?

And yet we cheat ourselves.
Preferring little red flags & smileys, over pretty stamps & scribbles.

30 days without Facebook and what did I learn?
To value what is necessary, and forgo what is just plain stupid.

And I think you know what I'm talking about...
...Farmville addicts...



nicole said...

wow, those pink socks are pretty serious. I'm more of a pale pink kinda girl when it comes to matching clothes to my sword ;)

Kristine said...

Hi Caitlin, I found your site by clicking on your comment on a post about living without Facebook and wanted to see your post on that.

I quit the site too recently after a breakup. I've been out for 5 days and I'd like to go 30 or even more. It set a new standard for who my friends really are as opposed to people who just want to shelve you online for later use. Interesting blog, by the way, it has a very nostalgic quality. :)

Fondly, Caitlin said...

I absolutely agree with you, Kristine; those who truly care for you (and likewise those who don't) aren't that difficult to spot when the ease and convenience of friendship is lessened.

I actually just ended my 2nd FB break and it's definitely worth foregoing every once in a while...

Thanks for the read and I'm rooting for you as you take your journey!
Best of luck! ^-^