It was a long time coming: I’m taking a hiatus from Facebook.
There are plenty of reasons people announce (on Facebook, of course) that they are quitting. More often than not, they come back. And, there’s nothing wrong with that; It’s good to take breaks.
For me, this hiatus has nothing to do with those studies that say Facebook can cause depression, jealousy, and so on. It’s not over any relationship drama. I don’t use Facebook for that kind of thing, especially since that would require someone to have a dating life. Ha!
On the contrary, I happen to think it’s a brilliant way to communicate to a wide audience at once. I have lots of fun on Facebook, sharing funny, odd, or depressing news stories in order to engage my 1200+ Facebook “friends.” Not only do engaging debates break out on my Facebook profile, but the funny commentary often has me in tears … laughing.
But … I work in news and media relations. SO much of what I do is tied with constantly surfing the web, reading, and communicating: watching news trends, checking in with my ‘clients’ (faculty) and urging them to write OpEds or matching up their academic expertise to media outlets for commentary and interviews, then sharing these hits with various social media outlets. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
I’m always “on.” And I’m tired, especially with everything going on with my dad.
With the advent of the smartphone (the Blackberry was my first) years ago, it became clear that even though one wasn’t in the office, work could still get done. Emails could get answered first thing in the morning when I wake up, or at 1 a.m. in the morning, when I’m in a cab on my way to the next social event: Why not look at my phone and respond to that email, or surf Twitter for the latest breaking news? And with that news in hand, it’s only “my (self-imposed) duty” to share with my Facebook friends, right?
To put it simply: I’m burning out.
In addition to putting this sometimes undo pressure on myself to constantly communicate (sometimes necessary for work, but definitely NOT necessary to the point that others remind me [jokingly; I know] that I’ve missed a weird news story), it’s become a massive crutch when it comes to friendship.
Earlier I mentioned 1200+ “friends.” Let’s be realistic: I do not have that many friends. Some of these are networking acquaintances. Others were friends in high school and college who, these days, make me cringe with their racist, sexist, and misogynist, (yeah, I said it) statements on Facebook that it’s no wonder we do not hang out in person.
But among that list, are real friends who I have neglected because life gets in the way—and so does Facebook. Check out this excerpt from a Matthew Warner blog post that explains what I mean perfectly:
“When we see each other’s status updates every once in awhile, it gives us the illusion that we’ve “kept in touch” (even though most family and friends don’t see our updates — they aren’t on Facebook, don’t check regularly or missed it in their feed). It’s a poor substitute for meaningfully keeping in touch with our loved ones, but we compromise and settle for it anyway because it’s easy. When it comes to allocating how much energy we put into which relationships, it builds in a bias toward convenience vs importance. And, again, we end up doing so at the expense of time we should be spending on more personal interaction with our most important relationships.
“It’s made me into a lazy friend and loved one.”
So why not keep Facebook and just not log on and engage? Um, duh: I’m a communicating junkie; I can’t do that. (For more on that and other reasons to quit or take a real break from Facebook, check out “5 Things I Learned When I Quit Facebook” over at ABC.com.)
And why choose Facebook out of all the other social media? Well, I can’t quit Twitter: too much of the news world is there, so it comes with the career. And Instagram is easy: it’s just pictures. Since Facebook is more of a time suck, it’s the natural choice. And, remember, this is not a permanent thing. It’s simply a hiatus. An experiment, if you will.
The one worry I have on taking this break from Facebook is that it’s an excellent way to keep in touch with family and friends in other United States and overseas. This is especially crucial at a time when my father is in poor health and living at a nursing home since his hip fracture in late January. But I have to think of my well-being first. The less time on Facebook, the more time being present when I’m with my mom and dad. So, although it will take more effort, we’ll have to communicate via phone or email.
So this is it: the hiatus is on, and so is the challenge: I feel the need to reconnect with people and return to my hobbies (writing about South American culture and music for Sounds and Colours) the good, old-fashioned way.