Thursday, July 07, 2011

Why I Got Off Facebook and Why I Got Back On!

I've been asked a number of times why I deactivated my Facebook account. I thought it would be worth talking what I'm back on.

Let me say it this way -- I used to have the body of a god...Buddha! I looked that way for a reason. I didn't eat junk food. I didn't have a terrible diet. I just had too large a diet. I had too much input. I grazed constantly, especially during candy corn season.

The same thing happened to me on Facebook. I didn't have a terrible diet, I have mostly healthy digital and face-to-face relationships with people. I just had too much of the digital input. I loved keeping up with old friends and people from church and friends from sports and before I knew it I was checking my news feed all the time. My wife wanted me to exchange Facebook for "face time" with her. And she was right.

So I took a couple weeks off and a funny thing happened. I didn't miss it. I missed some things it enabled me to do, but I rather enjoyed quiet nights at home with her. I did not miss getting "tagged", "poked" or any number of other virtual notifications that interrupt life.

Why, then, did I come back? A few things enticed me back...
  • Facebook really can amplify face-to-face relationships. It helps me as a friend and as a pastor to have occasional glimpses into the lives of my friends. Those glimpses may not be as frequent now, but they will still be helpful. I receive a lot of real life relationship tips from my family, too, that start something like this, "did you see on Facebook?"
  • I do aspire to be someone who has a positive outlook on life. Facebook gives me a ready-made megaphone for messages of hope and good news that I don't have outside of Facebook.
  • I don't know how much people from New Life Church are on Facebook, but it is a very helpful tool to communicate with the church. I'm sure more people see the church items in their news feed than migrate to the church's blog or website.
Here then, is my Facebook plan to keep from having too much digital and not enough "real" relationships:
  • Dump Foursquare. I'm sort of an idiot this way. I quit Facebook and began "checking-in" everywhere I went. The small reward points mean nothing, but they get my eye off the ball.
  • Blog 2x/week. I haven't written anything longer than a 140-character tweet in months. My goal is to write something here or on the church blog at least twice a week.
  • Check Facebook 2x/day on computer. I know some of you only check once every few months. I left it on all the time in the background at work and home. It was far to easy to take a quick look so I didn't miss anything...and I spent way too much time on it.
  • Don’t leave Facebook on. This is the corollary to the previous item.
  • Post statuses without checking newsfeed. I can change my status without reading everyone else's. I can write when I can write and read when I can read and not let the reading interfere with other things.
  • Don’t go looking for friends. I have made some fun discoveries of old friends in the "people you may know" sidebar. But, that is probably enough. I don't need to click "see all" to look beyond that.
  • Never be online for instant messages. I already stayed "offline", but now that Facebook is adding video chatting, I'll be happy to not participate.
  • Try to be someone people are glad to hear from on Facebook. If anyone has tips on being this kind of person, I'd love to hear them.
I'd love for help with this. If any of you would like to ask me how I'm doing working this plan.

The bottom line is this: I may not be quite so on top of Facebook, but I hope to be on top of my offline life. And, I'm trying to make them play nicely together so they're better together than apart. We'll see.

1 comment:

Joanna Webber said...

I think that is a very healthy view of Facebook. I just realized recently that I was spending to much time on it. I got sucked in, but I wasn't playing games on it and doing the ridiculous things my peers were doing so I justified myself. I understand now the problem and have seriously considered dropping it for a period of time to consciously focus on more profitable things, like actually talking to those friends who need help instead of just liking their statuses.