Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Days and Counting...

Disclaimer: This was supposed to be a wonderfully touching Thanksgiving post outlining all of the wonderful, but not typical, things that I am thankful for. That will just have to wait.

One Month Down

I woke up this morning to the sound of my phone; it was a calendar alert. When I rolled over to check my phone, I was surprised by the calendar appointment: "FB cutoff date".

"Has it already been a month?" I asked myself.

Indeed it has. Today is officially my one month anniversary without Facebook; and I must say, it hasn't been without its challenges. I still remember that first day clearly. Hell, I can still remember the first hour clearly. With my automatic impulses taking over, reaching for my phone, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on. In hindsight, I probably picked one of the most challenging times of year to conduct a social experiment that actually cuts me off from those that I care about.

Halloween was the first real challenge. Not being able to see my friends and my friends children all decked out in their cute and goofy costumes pulled at my emotional strings. Fortunately I was able to have them text me pictures of themselves and their wee 'lil ones.

I went on vacation in early November, that was a small challenge. It was a little easier to face because really all I would've been doing is posting pics of my brother and I on a beach while our friends were busy working away. However, I like to think that close friends wouldn't have seen that as rubbing it in, close friends are interested in your good time, at least I am interested in theirs.

I celebrated a birthday while on vacation. This was a truly eye-opening event in my Facebook experiment. Now, anybody who's on Facebook should immediately know where I'm going with this. When you're on Facebook you look forward to your birthday and all of the wall posts from your friends. Friends who've never commented or "liked" anything of yours for the past 12 months come out of the wood works to write on your wall and wish you a happy birthday; and it feels warm and fuzzy. On this particular birthday, all but three of my close friends completely forgot about me. In fact, I received a call from my parents and two close friends, received a text from one close friend and received two birthday tweets; all of which gave me warm and fuzzy's. I have to admit that I did miss the plethora of wall posts. When I playfully called out my close knit college friends (all guys), the response I received, "dude, you're not on Facebook anymore I didn't have my reminder. Sorry bro". Totally understandable, actually. Just to be clear, I wasn't butt-hurt, just an interesting piece of Facebook. I would have to say, if anything, this is a case to be on Facebook.

Next up, Thanksgiving week. I went away to Tahoe with my parents for Thanksgiving; a tradition that we've upheld for about five years now. I love Tahoe. An interesting thing happened while up in Tahoe this week. My cell phone reception was non-existent. In fact, the signal was barely strong enough to let a few text messages go through on Thanksgiving day. Thankfully the cabin we rented was equipped with WiFi (an absolute must for me as my work is dependent on an internet connection). But not having cell phone reception while being in isolation can be taxing on a social individual such as myself. I was fine for the first few days. As the week drew on I noticed that I began to crave social interaction. I haven't talked to anybody outside of my parents for going on seven days now. Don't get me wrong, I love talking to my parents, but I am seriously craving some friendly conversation right about now. I would definitely diagnose myself with cabin fever. I feel a bit disconnected, unsocialized, and dare I say, ready to get back to the bay, back to home, and back to normalcy. I do believe that if I was on Facebook right now, these feelings would be at the very least, less intense. Facebook is good for connecting people; that's what it was created for, right? Another case to be on Facebook.

I have to admit that my Twitter activity has increased exponentially. Am I simply using Twitter to fill in for Facebook? Am I choosing the lesser of two evils? Do I even believe the two are evil? No, I don't. The two are completely different social networking tools in my mind, however they both keep you connected in their own ways. Maybe it's my way of trying to feel connected while being disconnected in the mountains. If I were to take a guess, yes. I am indeed doing what I can with my social networks to feel connected to the world outside of this cabin. And since I am no longer on Facebook, Twitter is assuming the role. I'm not sure how much longer my Facebook experiment will last. On one end it's been refreshing and on the other end its been a bit depressing. Pretty much all of my closest friends are on Facebook and I've essentially cut myself off from them. What's particularly interesting to me is that almost none of my friends are on Twitter. So the reality of it is, I'm connecting to relative strangers while on Twitter; and I'm cool with that. I just don't want to loose the connections with those I'm closest to. Maybe I'm being hard-headed, after all I'm half Sicilian, but I'm just not ready to give up on my experiment yet, there are more challenges ahead: Xmas & New Years.

Anyone reading? What do you think? Should I bail on my experiment and succumb to all that is Facebook, or should I keep going strong, challenging myself to create new and stronger connections without social networks?


  1. I've thought about killing my fb account many times, more since you did it. There are a lot of things about fb I don't like - being a huge time-suck is one of them; privacy issues, tracking, targeted advertising, etc. are others. The obvious upside is that I can keep in the loop with friends and family that I would otherwise have almost zero interaction with. What I have tried to do, which seems to help, is hide those "friends" that I am not that close to, especially those that post constantly (unless their posts are funny and/or interesting). This has whittled my timeline down to a manageable length that I can scroll through once or twice (ok maybe three or four times) a day when I have some down-time, and I still get as much out of fb as I did when I was reading 10x the updates. Not a perfect solution - in an ideal world I'd call or email those people on a regular basis and keep in touch with them directly. But, as you can attest, in reality I barely find the time to keep in touch with my immediate family and closest friends, much less my extended network. Was fb does so well is let me lurk and find out what's going on in those folks lives while only dedicating a few minutes a day. If I choose to interact with them beyond what they are sharing on fb, I can do that whenever I choose. That type of interaction would be impossible using phone, email, or texting without dedicating significantly more time. Again, not the perfect solution, probably the laziest solution, but I would say better (for me) than living my pre-fb isolated existence on the east coast, far from many of my friends and family. Like anything that we enjoy, fb can become an addiction. Maybe we just need to work on using it for its social benefits and not falling prey its allure of 24/7 social interaction?

  2. I had to comment even though this is old. I was on fb for about a month when I asked one of my close friends if she'd facebook me some info and her response was.....I don't do facebook. If people want to contact me they can do so via email. Soon after I realized I was one of the rare ones that fb did nothing for. I would much rather have my small close knit friends than a bunch of random people who somehow end up as a 'friend' when clearly they are not. You don't miss what you've never had. I wasn't on fb long enough to develop any type of dependency. Time is precious and I can't fathom wasting it on that type of platform. What was your outcome, were you able to stay off?

  3. Thanks for the response royalzayin! It's resurfaced my desire to continue writing, hopefully I'll have a new post soon. The short answer is that I made it over a year without Facebook and feel that it was a worthy experiment. I'm back on now, but I think I have a different perspective and appreciation for it and how I choose to use it.