I’ve been on facebook since 2006. Yeah, like, since it was for college students only. As happens in any long-term relationship, facebook and I have experienced our ups and downs.
There were the early stages of just getting to know each other: “What’s this ‘wall’ thing? I am supposed to write on it? Oh shit, uh, just got …’tagged’ … in something???” *’pokes’ a couple people*
The jubilant euphoria of falling in love: “Omg faceboooooook! Soooo much better than my douchey ex, Myspace!!!! Look at all this status-update-picture-tagging-check-in amazingness! Now I can know EXACTLY what EVERYBODY is doing ALL THE TIME!!!!!” *friends everyone, refreshes newsfeed every 12 seconds on multiple devices, posts statuses such as ‘Laundry all done for the day!’*
The bitter disgruntlement of not getting along: “F you facebook. I can’t even stand to look at you. We need to go on a break. I want out.” *flips off computer, deletes phone app*
^^ I have cycled through the two previous stages approx. 47 times over the years.
Finally, a cautious re-evaluation of its purpose in my life: “Ok, facebook, maybe we can help each other.” *calmly logs back in with a fresh perspective*
SO, is social media good or evil? Yes.
Here is my list of pros and cons, followed by the list of rules I made for myself when I made the decision to log back in.
- Sharing. I love to share. Ideas, thoughts, laughs, recipes, workouts, experiences, pretty things, good vibes… How friggin’ cool is it that we live in a century when we have a perfect vessel to do so?
- Creativity. Sometimes I become immersed in reading what others have written, or looking at pictures they’ve created or taken. Our facebook pages get to be our own little individual outlets for expressing ourselves. That is very cool.
- Business. When I opened my own business, beginning with zero clients, facebook was an incredible tool to bring people to me. If I were ever to, oh I don’t know, start a blog or something, it yet again would be a vehicle in which to bring it to you.
- Fluidity. Don’t like that pic? Delete it. In a better mood now? Change status. Friends off? Block. Friends on? Unblock. The ability to roll with things and make adjustments is a valuable life skill. The internet has that feature built right in.
- Life Assessment Tool. There was a period when all the pics I was tagged in were of me drinking, partying, and “actin’ a fool,” as my gram would say. During another stretch of time, every single pic of me was at the gym. (Overtraining-much?) My point is that our statuses and pictures can provide a convenient little insight into our habits and mindset. They can allow us to step back and see ourselves from an objective point of view. How is Kristen spending her precious time? What kind of people is she hanging out with? What type of energy is she sending out into the Universe?
- Passive Aggressiveness. It’s immature, tacky, cowardly, and one of my biggest pet peeves. I’m not just talking about middle schoolers. I’ve seen grown adults use their social media accounts to “teach someone a lesson” or make another person feel bad, left out, or stupid. If you have beef with someone, it’s between the two of you; the rest of the world does NOT need to know about it. Work it out face to face, adult-style.
- Complaining/Negativity Cycle. When something goes wrong, it is so tempting to make sure everybody knows how unfair our life is. We use our status updates to list all the ways our day went wrong, then wait for the encouraging comments… Only problem is, some of us get addicted to this cycle. (“Let’s see if I can top yesterday’s bad day and get even more sympathy/compliments/whatever.”) Yuck.
- Drama Mama. “Omg, her pic only got 3 likes! I can’t believe _____ went out to dinner without me! Holy crap, did you see _____’s relationship status update? I noticed ____ was in a pic with ____… There’s probably something going on there.” <— Real discussions I’ve heard. Please get a life. That’s all.
- Time Sucker. I don’t need to expand. You know.
- Radiate positivity. Everything I post should be useful, whether it’s making somebody laugh/smile/think, giving or asking for information, or conveying a compliment.
- See negativity from others? Definitely keep on scrolling. Block or untag if necessary.
- Do not participate (by commenting, liking, or sharing) in any posts that you know are passive aggressive attacks toward someone else.
- Check once in the morning, once in the evening, and only at lunch if needed for business purposes.
- If you reach a point when anyone’s pictures/updates/comments make you feel stressed, anxious, or irritable, LOG THE F OUT. Go read a book. Eat some
peanut butterbroccoli. Go to sleep. You can try again in the morning.
- Be grateful for the technology at hand. Don’t take it for granted and appreciate the many ways it can be a huge asset to your life.
Boundaries are good. The above are what work for me. You might have different ones for yourself, but I really urge you to put some sort of limit on your time and energy expended online.
I am still way behind on the social media train. I’m back to using and appreciating facebook regularly. I pin things occasionally. Perhaps one day I’ll be ready to twerp or #hashbrown. I know you’ll all have my back when that day comes and I put out a call for help on my status update.