Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why I am Unfriending You on Facebook

Hello, my name is Marta, and I am a Facebook addict. I finally admitted the truth after my daughter staged an intervention.

"Mom," she said, as she saw me checking my home page (again), "You're on Facebook even more than I am."

It's true. In fact, I have more Facebook friends than both my teenagers combined. It takes time to keep up with all those status updates and pictures, and blog links, and YouTube links, and all the other links and likes and pages and events.

(But not the games. I don't play any of the games. I promised myself when I first created my Facebook profile that I would not get sucked into wasting my time on Farmville. I grew up on a farm. If I wanted a farm, I would buy live chickens. Oh, but a couple of my Facebook friends have real chickens, and they post about them once in a while, mostly when one is sick, or when they get out of the pen.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, my Facebook addiction.

My friend Tristi Pinkston convinced me to join Facebook in the first place. She's a writer (see her blog here) and she uses Facebook as a marketing and networking tool, along with fun and socializing. She was trying to reach 1,000 friends. (As I write this, she is up to 1, 339!) I thought, why not? Everybody is doing it. What could it hurt?

So I created my profile and sent Tristi a friend request. Then I friended my children and other relatives and former classmates and people from my online writer's support group. Other people were sending me friend requests. Facebook was constantly suggesting people who had several friends in common with me. I just wanted more and more.

It was the strangest thing. It was like I was a different person on Facebook, more outgoing, funnier. It sort of took away my inhibitions. I'd never been a talkative person, but now I was telling everybody I knew about silly things that happened during the day. I was commenting on other people's posts, too, and they were responding to my posts. It was fun, a little intoxicating. I even caved to a friend's pressure and posted a current picture of myself. And I HATE having my picture taken. Is there a word for pathologic avoidance of cameras? Photophobia? (No, that can't be it. That's a symptom of migranes.) But I digress.

After a while, Facebook began to rule my life. I had to check it first thing in the morning and before I went to bed at night. I logged on during my lunch break and took quick looks while I was supposed to be working. I didn't want to miss anything. I knew it was too much, but I just couldn't seem to resist. I tried setting limits for myself on how often I would look, or how much time I would spend. It would work for a while, but eventually I would give in.

Then I had a couple of wake up calls. There was my daughter's comment, which I mentioned above. I also listened to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speak about "Things That Matter Most." I started to think about what was most important to me and how I was spending my time. There were large discrepancies. For instance, frittering away precious minutes and hours on Facebook, when I really want to FINISH THIS @!#$% BOOK. On my inventory, God, family, health, and writing are at the top of the list. Various friends and acquaintances are scattered all over the list, ranging from "hold on to this person for dear life" to "who is THAT and how did he/she get on my friend list?" Facebook, unfortunately, is down near the bottom of my list with Dancing with the Stars and Oprah and eating cotton candy. Fun, but not necessary.

And so, my dear Facebook friends, that is why I will be unfriending so many of you in the near future, unless you are a relative or one of a certain few friends who would be a relative had I had anything to say about your parentage or matrimonial choices. It is not personal, but it is necessary. Most of you, I will see at the next class reunion, the next writer's conference, or my next trip to the grocery store. I will still be blogging here. (Feel free to leave comments.) And I will be back on Facebook, as soon as I FINISH THIS @!#$% BOOK.

I am also still making and receiving phone calls, letters, e-mails, and text messages. What, like I'm supposed to go cold turkey on everything?