FB part 2: Communication is easier, not (necessarily) cheaper

Well, all my initial misgivings aside, it’s been a little over a month and it’s been lovely.

A few thoughts:

—The break has been nice. The quiet has been nice. I felt more focused, both on the kids during the day, and on work in the evenings. I’m tempted to take every September off. It’s nice timing because . . .

—I’m in the midst of a busy season with work that has no real end in sight (this happens every fall) and I’ve had more internal resources for it this year (see also: wasn’t an insanely stressed banshee of terror).

Part of that definitely has to do with seeing a counselor and finally learning how to deal with anxiety better (hey! only took 33 years!), but I think the other piece came from sharpening my focus and limiting where my emotional energy goes. Home with my 3 boys and work. That’s more than enough sometimes.

I also worked more quickly when I didn’t have Facebook to distract me from the blank page and the blinking cursor!

It was a relief to find that “thinking in status updates” and the urge to check my smartphone went away fairly quickly once the break began. There were some times I thought, HA! This would be so great to post! and other times I missed interacting with friends (one of my dearest friends just had a BABY! for Pete’s sake — and yes, I cheated and pulled up the pictures) but generally, the thought pattern faded to the background.

It was a nice reminder that social media is as ingrained in my life as I allow it to be.

—I realized that social media amplifies my many self-conscious tendencies and that, online and off, a lot of it simply isn’t worth worrying about. I’m working on confidence in my in-person interactions, so it makes sense that this would be an area of growth online too.

There’s always going to be some self-righteous jerkface on the internet talking about how their sooooo tired of people’s pictures of their dinner/vacation/children/pets and how they’re sooooo much better because they only post links to NPR articles or whatever. They can de-friend me anytime they want to. In the meantime, I get to choose the experience that works for me and my life right now. Kid-land is where I dwell and I like having a place to share and catalog the mostly-enjoyable parts and find a little support for the tough stuff. I’m done with allowing snobs to ruin it for me.

There is always the possibility that someone will judge me as a narcissistic moron for posting too many updates or photos of the kids. But it’s probably not the most likely scenario. Again. The unfriend/unfollow button. People get to take responsibility for their own social media experience. Problem solved.

The place I do want to adjust is how I participate in more involved discussions (especially with folks I disagree with). I know myself better than to think I’ll shut up completely or that all my mistakes are behind me. But I’d like to change my approach somewhat. If it’s worth a comment that’s longer than a sentence, it’s probably good blog post fodder. I don’t have the energy for a Facebook fight, but I do like a chance to work through what I think and why. The blog is a much better platform. Anyway. Remember that time someone was challenged and thought about changing their long-held position because of a comment they read on Facebook? Yeah, me neither.

—I may have been wrong about the communication being cheap. It’s easier. Not cheaper.

It’s only cheap if I think all 200 or so people on my friends list are my very best friends and that FB offers the very best interactions. They aren’t and it doesn’t.

But it’s kind of like gchat or texts during the day from J. I love that we’re able to be in contact on and off during the day. It wouldn’t work for all couples, but it’s a huge win for us (and helps keep me sane when caring for the tiny overlords). It doesn’t compete with an in-person conversation or the sweet notes J leaves me sometimes in the morning, but I love the connection, the casual updates on how the day is going. I’d never call it cheap.

There’s the big friends list. And then there’s the 5-7 people I talk to most often. I value those conversations. If we could hang out face to face we would, but I’ll take what I can get. Nothing cheap about that.

I enjoyed this Ted Talk on this very subject — still thinking about it and trying to decide where I land. If you watch it, let me know what you think!

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