How We’re Really Missing Out

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A few months ago, I made the decision to rejoin Facebook.

I loved reconnecting with my friends and family up north, as well as sharing ideas in a less in-depth venue, with the many blogging buddies I met during my time away from FB.  I had found the muse once again with blogging, and I found the three blogging groups I joined to be very helpful in my efforts to increase exposure.

It was great.  And then it slowly began to take  over.

First, I found myself playing catch-up after days when I didn’t log in.  I had to read everything in my newsfeed, and one day off could lead to a lot of time spent making up for it.  Because what if I missed big news from someone?

I (mostly) stayed true to my commitment not to discuss politics at all, but I clicked on everyone’s links, even when the articles they led me to were anything but uplifting.

I made sure to visit everyone’s blogs in my blogging groups, so that I could comment on their posts before it was “too late.”  I was spending a great deal of time reading about everyone’s adventures.

And of course I had to login on a daily basis, to be there for my online friends who were going through challenging times.

And then there was the drama.  Facebook has been a hotbed for that lately.  And watching it has been like watching a train wreck.

A couple of days ago, I caught myself rushing home to start up my computer and check in on the latest drama.  And I finally had to ask myself, what am I doing?  What am I getting out of this?  Aren’t there things I would rather be doing?

This moment of clarity really led me to think about the time I spend online and to rethink my use and perception of this tool.  I had fallen prey to Fear of Missing Out.  And in doing so, I was missing out on opportunities for joy and happiness that were right in front of my face.

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Here are a few of the lessons that I learned:

  • We don’t always need to be around “like-minded” people.  There is something wonderful about connecting with people who share ideas and are living in the same counter-cultural way that we are.  Before we moved to the marina, I knew very few “minimalists” in real life.  It was through my conversations with other bloggers that I learned how to live as simply as we do, and gained the courage to take the plunge and do it!  However, there is a danger in viewing ourselves as “separate.”  We are a part of humanity, not just a small subgroup.  Having friends who are different from ourselves adds some color to our day and allows us the chance to learn from each other and grow.
  • It’s okay to miss out on the details of someone’s life.  It is okay to not get caught up on your newsfeed.  It is fine to miss someone’s blog post.  If somebody has big news, they will contact you personally, if they need to!  There is no need to miss out on the world around us, because we are busy getting caught up on everyone else’s world.  And I won’t hate you if miss a post here–nobody else will, if you miss one of their posts, either!
  • Online “friendships” need to be kept in perspective.  It’s true that you never know everything about someone else, but we see a very limited picture of those we interact with online.  Even when we try to keep it “real,” it is a very censored version of ourselves that others see.  It is valuable to share ideas and gain support from people we meet online.  But these are not the same as friendships and relationships in “real life.”
  • There is no persona that we need to protect.  We become involved in drama, because we feel the need to defend the person that everyone online thinks we are.  The drama we see online is much more intense and prevalent than the drama we encounter in “real life.”  This could be because everyone works so hard to create a “face” for themselves online, and we feel the need to protect the way we appear.  There is nothing to defend though.  If a total stranger, on the other side of the globe, “judges” us, so what?  In the grand scheme of things, does that matter at all?

Keeping these lessons in mind, I am finding it much easier to be intentional with my time spent using social media, and my online time in general.  With a little practice, we can learn to use this tool to enrich our lives, rather than having it use us.

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19 thoughts on “How We’re Really Missing Out

  1. I know what you mean about what a time-suck it is to get caught up on the newsfeed. But I tend to skim past things quite quickly.

    I have to say, though – I know online friendships aren’t the same as ‘real life’ ones, but they do still count when they’re built up and worked at over years 🙂

    • Welcome aboard! 🙂

      I definitely need to get better at skimming the newsfeed. Or just keep ignoring a lot of it…

      I think it’s awesome that you’ve been able to develop close friendships online, that have lasted for years. It would certainly take an effort from both people involved, just like friendships in “real life,” I suppose. 🙂

      • I think it does, and there comes a point where you feel that *click* with a person, and realise they’re worth the effort, and that they’re making an effort for you, having decided that you’re worth it too. It’s lovely. But doesn’t happen with everyone, nor is it worth trying to make it work with everyone.

        Hafta say though, with regard to that, I made the connections through the blog FIRST, before continuing the relationships on FB and other platforms, but I think FB was what allowed the consistent levels of connectedness to support the transitions.

        Yes – real life friendships require effort too – sometimes more than the online ones because of the need to be present in the moment with someone.

        Get better at ignoring – that helps. I go through my list clicking ‘mark as read’ quite a lot of the time, and just interact with about half of the updates which take my fancy 🙂

        • You know, it is interesting. I have one blogging buddy who I will likely be meeting IRL before the year’s up. And a few with whom I hit it off right away, but we barely keep in touch anymore. Kind of like “real life,” I suppose.

          • I’ve been there…I’ve had some very intense new friendships online which just waned to nothing at all! Very strange. And the same in real life, if I’m honest. But I’ve met one blogging buddy IRL and it was AWESOME. I hope to meet more – but these are the people who’ve stood the test of years, so I figure they’re safe bets 🙂

  2. Hi Bethany! Yes, being a FB member is an “art” 🙂 I always just skim my newsfeed AND I block the posts for anyone who posts negative information. You know how to do that right? You’re still their friend but you don’t see their stuff in your feed. What I do is make sure that I like and follow mainly people and/or pages that only post inspiring or uplifting information (Like my SMART Living 365 FB page!) Life is MUCH too short to spend it reading negative stuff from people you hardly know! ~Kathy

  3. This is really true! I started minimizing my time on social media and reading every friend’s post on Facebook is a little bit stressful (especially the drama).I feel pretty good when I don’t spend so much time checking what’s up with everybody’s life and it’s okay to miss out on “news” sometimes plus the fact that I get more things done around the house.

    • LOL, housework…I used to use social media to avoid housework! Now it only takes me 5-10 minutes to get done, so you’d think I wouldn’t procrastinate so much. 😉

  4. Hi Bethany,
    I skip the Facebook newsfeed altogether! Huge time-saver. Very rarely, I’ll take a quick skim of it, but it’s rarely worth the time. I use Facebook only to check in with my blogging group and photography classrooms, to post on my Joyfully Green page, or to answer personal messages, and then I’m outta there! It’s only an extension of business for me. Also, I never read, “like”, or comment on the updates from “Facebook friends” who are not really friends, because of the “Facebook algorithm.” Do you know about that? Every time you interact with someone’s feed, that person gets bumped up higher in your newsfeed. Facebook lets you regularly see the top 16% of the people you’re interacting with. So, if you don’t want to hear from them, block them or just plain-old ignore them completely, and they will go to the very bottom of your feed, never to be seen again! 🙂

    • That is really weird. So it would make sense to have a list of people to regularly check in with, so that they’ll get up to the top. Or just ignore everybody! 😉

  5. I totally agree. I have just come back from a wonderful holiday with family and friends in Fiji. I purposefully didn’t take my phone and had no contact with the online world at all. It was a wonderful break from it all and made me realise that really you don’t ‘miss out’ on much at all. Instead you get to have genuine experiences with the people you are with 🙂

  6. Wise words.

    I’ve just been cutting back my friends list. There were people on it that I honestly didn’t care about at all. There are *still* people on it I don’t honestly care about at all.

    I have a lot more culling to do. I’m starting to think if I’m never likely to see a person again, and I wouldn’t make an effort to go see them if I was in their local city, why on earth am I keeping them on my Facebook friends list? But sometimes letting go takes a while, and happens one step at a time…Sometimes minimalism really is a work in progress. I’m getting to where I want to be, but some battles are just that – battles. With myself. I’ll learn, but it will take time, and I’m not quite ready…yet.

    • I just discovered unfollowing. It’s great, because you’re still friends, but they don’t show up in your newsfeed. I’m really limiting my list, and I think it will take a few days to get it pared down. But totally worth it!

      Makes me wonder how many friends have unfollowed me….But I guess I have to be cool with that!

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