Today is my first day back on Facebook and Twitter, OK that is a small exaggeration. 40 days ago one of my friends out here invited us all out for sushi and explained that she was going to be observing Lent for 2010. I only learned about Lent a few years ago while on my mission serving in Thousand Oaks CA. There it was explained to me, and I participated in the tradition even though its not an LDS custom. While I cant remember what I gave up for the 40 days, I do remember it being a worthwhile experience, and one I wanted to do again. Unfortunately it never crossed my mind again until this year. So while we sat around talking and eating sushi I decided to participate this year, but at first I really didn’t know what to give up. So I posed the question to the group, and they all suggested I give up Facebook and Twitter. I thought this was an excellent idea and agreed to it.
Now I know that some people have already been asking me about my Facebook activity over the last 40 days. Yes there was some Facebook activity. There are several other web based services I use, like Foursquare, that automatically update my Facebook status without me ever getting onto Facebook. Also if I write a new blog post it updates my Facebook status, and of course I did log onto Facebook to brag about sitting so close to Wil Wheaton, Leonard Nimoy, and Stan Lee at Emerald City Comic Con. So no it was not a true 100% fast from Facebook, but my activity on Facebook and Twitter was down to almost 0.
I must say I really enjoyed my time off both sites. I realized just how much time both sites can suck out of your day. Over that last 40 days I found myself reading more, writing more, and overall not feeling like I was wasting my life away on a site that really didn’t give me much back in return.
Now some of you may see this as harsh, and maybe it is. There are certainly advantages to Facebook. The opportunity to stay in close contact with friends and relatives. An easy to use birthday calendar. (Thats about all I can come up with) But couldn’t both of those things be done without Facebook? I was talking to a friend yesterday about how myself and 4 other mission friends work very hard to keep in touch. While all 5 of us are on Facebook it is not the tool we use to keep connected. We call each other, email each other, plan trips to see each other, and because of this time and effort we have remained and will still remain close year after year. I have other mission friends that I am friends with on Facebook, but we simply are not close. There is no effort there other then the occasional comment on a status update. I heard the other day that we as a people are more connected then ever before and more lonely then ever before. I would believe it. With people wasting their lives away reading status updates and playing Farmville I would imagine there are a lot of very lonely people out there, and Facebook really is not helping them.
Now does this mean I think its Facebooks fault for all of this….No not at all. It is up to people to choose the life they want to live, and unfortunately many choose Farmville over actual real relationships. If people put in just as much time onto making friends as they do on building farms on Farmville I would imagine they would be happier people.
Now does this mean I am going to give up Facebook and never go back….No. There are some good things about having a Facebook account. Just today I was reading a few things on my sisters wall that made me smile and will give us things to talk about during our next conversations. Because of Facebook I have reconnected with old friends that I never would have seen again if not for Facebook. So there are good things about Facebook, but as my cousin Jeremy will say its all how you use it that defines what it will become.