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.
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.