I haven’t sworn off Facebook yet. I haven’t even taken a break. I don’t even think I’ve really reduced the amount of time I’m on there.
But, after a few weeks of really thinking about the issue, I am way more mindful of how I spend my Facebook time.
To start with, I’ve purged my following list. Gotten rid of all the people I “friended” because we had friends in common, because we were at the same conference, or because we met at some random event I can no longer remember. I was pretty callous. If I couldn’t remember meeting the person in the flesh or couldn’t remember any meaningful event that we communicated about I unfriended.
The result? A Facebook stream filled with information, comments, and anecdotes by people I actually know. Surprisingly refreshing.
But it’s not the only reason I decided to stick around for the duration.
I’ve already mentioned it, and it’s going to sound incredibly sad and shallow, but I know I’m not the only one for whom this is true, so I’m not ashamed to own it.
Facebook is where I get the bulk of my news.
OK, yes, I read the local and the hyper local papers (if by read we mean glance at quickly over breakfast), but the rest I glean from Facebook.
Well, first of all, I have a rather impressive array of international friends so people actually share international news. Second, it’s not all doom and gloom like the American televised news tends to be.
I don’t want to be scared by falsely sensationalized news reports. I want to be informed. Simple enough, right? And sometimes I want to read about the good stuff, the uplifting news, proof that there’s still good in the world.
So I read the articles my friends share. And I partake in the conversations they then have on their Facebook walls, or on mine if I feel moved to share the articles too. I drink my tea and nod my head, make a comment, and then I go on to the next article. For a minute it feels like I’m sitting at the bar of the local diner, having breakfast with my cronies, drinking coffee and pontificating on the state of the world.
I think I could live without the posts about my friends’ kids’ artwork (as cute as their creations might be) or about that lunch that those people shared last week, but the news thing will keep me coming back for a while yet. Without it I think I would feel disconnected from the world at large, and I find I like being connected.
In the end I think the secret to Facebook success is about finding a balance. Knowing when to turn it off and walk away. Realizing that you don’t have to be on there 24/7. You can pop in a couple times, see what’s being discussed, and move on.
With all the extra time I’m rediscovering, I’m making time to have coffee or lunch with friends, take the puppy on walks, and generally enjoy what the “real” world has to offer.
It’s not an either or kind of deal. It’s an “as well” deal. And I’m feeling a whole lot more connected and happy again.