Why am I on facebook?: Examining my long relationship with Facebook

So today I activated the new facebook timeline before its introduction. I just couldn’t resist what can I say! I found the instructions online by tech geeks, followed them through and it was that simple, I activated the timeline. And I loved it! I found myseblf going back to the early days I joined facebook (that was back in 2005!) and sadly I was still hooked into the timeline, going through it hours later that I had to forcefully remove myself. Telling myself to quit it and get back to work please (like I don’t have a ton of assignments due!).

Although I loved it and obviously facebook has its great charms, why else are millions of people around the world using this tool? There is no denying the power of facebook. We invest so much of our time on facebook and many of us like myself have literally been in a long term relationship with facebook. For me that relationship will enter its six year anniversary on November. I don’t know about you, but that is a long relationship and I have never been in a relationship that long, well that is if you don’t include my lovely family.

And our relationship, facebook and I for the past couple years included being intimate with each other at least once a day, most times much more than that. So it got me thinking! Why am I in this relationship? What benefit does it bring me? How am I fulfilled by it? What growth have I gained as a human being? What knowledge have I learned? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this six year relationship, that is about to have a new attractive makeover to keep me in this relationship for as long as possible?

Some of you may be thinking these are too serious questions for a social networking site that is all about connecting likeminded people and having fun. I guess for some people that is and will be the case, but for me everything I do with my life is a serious issue that requires serious questions. Because each minute, each second makes up my life, my time on this earth and thus very important. I am selfish I admit. I want to grow as a person. I want to learn new things, new ideas, see things in a different light. I want knowledge. I want intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth.

So I need to evaluate how I spend my time and my important relationships and facebook has become an important relationship, a significant part of my life for the past several years, as I interact on facebook nearly on a daily basis. Thus going back to the question, why am I in this relationship? Six years is awfully a long time.
These are the thoughts that went through my mind in deciding if I wanted to continue with this relationship or end it. (Now remember there are millions in this same relationship, these are just my feelings regarding this relationship)

Reasons on staying in the relationship:

It keeps me connected with my friends and family. This is probably the most attractive attribute of this relationship for most people. Instant connection with friends, family and acquaintances I have met around the world. It’s easy to send them a message, tag them in a post, share photos, memories and so forth with each other with a click of a mouse. It’s instant and it’s very easy. I could also see what is going in their life and be updated that easily. Currently I have 332 friends on my list and over the years I have interacted with only a small fraction of them. A very small fraction. And when I say years, I mean years, because remember I was hooked on the timeline and actually went through the years. So out of those 332, perhaps less than 20 I interact on a weekly basis and less than 10 I consider good friends, you know the type that actually fulfill the meaning of friendship. The ones that have our phone number and will come over to our house if we are sick or even know if we are sick. Well of course thanks to status updates everyone can know what you go are through, if you’re sick, if you’re in the hospital, if a beloved died, your list will have access to your feelings if you share them as many do and some of your list mates will offer condolences, the vast majority will not even say anything to you but go on to post something random like a touchdown by the Jets, but your true friends will call you and come over. So in essence when it comes to this attribute of the relationship I am sharing a part of myself, those posts, those photos, and memories by in large with people that actually are not my friends and wouldn’t know my life from my death. Now of course they are not my enemies either. Personally I don’t interact with most on my friends list, but it doesn’t mean I dislike them or don’t care about them. It’s just I don’t know them very well. And if we were to meet face to face I don’t think we could hold a decent conversation for less than 5 minutes. In fact this happened to me on several occassions with people on my list. It doesn’t go beyond a minute of conversation and on facebook one would think we were such awesome buddies!

Despite this, they have an intimate look into my life, my thoughts and so forth. Of course I don’t have to share anything on Facebook, but that’s the whole purpose of social networking no? Therefore in conclusion I am not convinced by this quality to stay in the relationship. I could have this same connection with friends, family and people that I am interested in through email and good ol telephone. Or I could start all over with Facebook and just add people that I actually interact with?

The relationship keeps me informed and connected to what’s going on. For me this is the most attractive quality of the relationship and why I find it hard to walk away from it. (Breaking up is hard to do!). Over the years I have made events, learned of events, and connected with information instantly that I may have otherwise missed. It’s an easy place to organize social events and get people together. Arab spring anyone? Viva revolution! Granted generally nothing that substantial ever happens by the users of this medium and yes it will generate more interest for birthday events and parties, but for the serious folks like myself, this attribute has connected me with important civic engagement events, lectures, protests, thinkers, documentaries, links, news, blogs the list go on. And I have shared the similar when I come across it. The sharing and exchange of information is a very attractive attribute. Yes 95% of the time the relationship gives me trivial crap like what football team is going to win the superbowel or someone’s baby burping for the first time, but sometimes I come across a gem that keeps me longer in the relationship and weather the storm. I just thought about this and that is I hope this quality of mine is not a serious indicator of how I would be in a real life relationship with an actual human being. 95% of time my husband just doesn’t do it for me and rather slows my growth as a woman, but when the 5% he is good, boy is he good. I just hope I am not those women!

More coming soon…

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