Done with Facebook

Posted: Monday, April 20, 2009

I don't know how Facebook took over my life.

For a long time I had resisted its lure. I mocked Facebook users, mentally placing the site's truly rabid fans in the same category as scrapbookers.

Meanwhile, I hid the fact that I had an account, which I had set up only to view pictures my niece posted online.

For a long time my "wall" was pleasingly empty, no profile information or photo attached. Then, a few months ago, the invitations began to arrive. What started as a trickle, the occasional message to link up with other Facebook friends, grew into a flood. It was as if someone had signed up my e-mail address for an online contest.

After a brief internal debate, I rationalized that it could help me professionally to network with other freelancers in my field. So I plunged into the abyss.

It became clear almost immediately that "social networking" was really a euphemism for goofing off with work friends (or neighbors) who are also just goofing off.

Kristen is now friends with Lisa P. and Jon A. via the People You May Know tool.

I began sending and receiving invitations at breakneck pace. Unexpected queries filled me with glee - "I didn't know Laura considered us friends." But unanswered ones induced anguish: "I sent an invitation to Jim three days ago and I've heard nothing. All those long talks we used to have in the edit bay. ..."

Before long, my circle of work friends wasn't enough. I needed more.

I began to search for people from high school. I was confused, though, by some photos of my supposed classmates. Who were all these old people with unfamiliar names? I reconsidered.

Kristen is headed to the grocery store for milk and bread.

I started to check my friends' status updates a few times a day. Then a few more times. Soon, I was keenly interested in the hourly updates of their infinitely more fascinating lives.

Kristen is trying to get her husband to join Facebook.

"Come on honey, you should just join. There's no harm in it. And if you don't like it you can always quit. All the kids are doing it."

Apparently I was a crack dealer in a past life.

Resistance was futile. Soon he was boasting of finding long-lost friends from childhood, reconnecting with work buddies and making lunch dates with college chums.

Kristen is at work, wishing her company served better coffee.

I began to neglect my duties at the office, so busy was I uploading photos and posting links to hilarious videos.

Then my kids began to infringe on my addiction. They would want meals or other irritating things like rides to school. "Just a minute, I have to check my Facebook. Oh, how cute; my friend Karen posted a new picture of her little baby."

Then came the status update that went one click too far.

Kristen is enjoying a delicious ham on rye.

Wait. Did I really put up a post describing what I had for lunch?

I turned away from the computer and took stock of my life: dirty dishes on the counter; disheveled, hungry children lying about; mail stacked up.

It was clearly time to stop.

Then I thought, "I could start a Facebook addicts group!"

I logged back in and did a quick Facebook Groups search. My idea seemed terribly clever - until the search results revealed that there were already hundreds of Facebook addict groups boasting more than 50,000 members.

I wondered how many of these people appreciated the irony of signing on to Facebook to get help for their Facebook addiction. Surely it is somewhat akin to an Alcoholics Anonymous group enjoying a round of margaritas during a meeting.

And so, without the support of my fellow addicts, I quit the old-fashioned way - cold turkey. I actually lasted a few weeks ... before I fell off the wagon. But now I'm trying again. I'll be stronger this time.

Kristen is Facebook-free for five days.

It hasn't been easy. During the first 48 hours, I lay awake wondering what I was missing: what trips my friends had taken, what jobs they were working on, what "cause" they were now "fans" of. As time has passed, the edge has softened, though my curiosity is still omnipresent.

I suppose I could always call these friends of mine.

Nah. Maybe I'll text them.



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