Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Facebook is a bad thing.
In fact, I have a very happy/grumpy/love/hate relationship with it. It’s great for connecting with family who live far away (we have family all over the world and love seeing pictures of parties we can’t attend and babies we can’t cuddle). But there are some things that this ever-accessible world of social media has replaced — things I’ve noticed more and more as time passes.
And because becoming a mom suddenly makes you nostalgic for the things you had that your kids won’t (Honey, this is called a Walkman!), I’ve reflected on 10 things that Facebook has kind of, well, ruined.
1. Reading words off of paper
Remember when people used to go to restaurants alone and eat chicken salad sandwiches and catch up on the latest novel from John Grisham? Or when, at the DMV, people were in line reading Stephen King or doing crossword puzzles? Remember when newspapers were commonly left on tables at IHOP or Starbucks so that coffee-sipping patrons could share the world news? Not anymore. This isn’t totally Facebook’s fault — but I bet if you glanced over the shoulder of any smart-phone user getting their oil changed, 91% would be posting a status update about it. “Getting a tune up — at Jiffy Lube.”
2. Christmas cards
I love Christmas cards. I love opening them almost ceremonially as a family. I love seeing how our long lost friend’s babies are growing big and strong — and oh, look, Katie Marie is taking ballet lessons! But now, my Christmas card list almost mirrors my Facebook friend list. They’ve been looking at my family all year — and I’ve been looking at theirs. And Christmas card updates? No need these days. I’ve seen pictures of Katie Marie ballet dancing for 6 months in my newsfeed. [The trick is saving a special picture JUST for Christmas cards!]
3. Breaking up
Remember that kid in middle school that was your friend when you were going through a weird phase and wasn’t a really good influence and, well, you’re glad that life naturally evolves and moves forward? Oh wait. Nevermind. Oh, and remember that ex-boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or coworker or boss or cashier that you wish the best but kind of want to forget about? Nope, not an option. With Facebook, it’s like we all live in the same small town in Texas and there’s only one corner store.
4. Being bored
My grandmother used to say that “only boring people get bored.” But, I have to say — I get bored sometimes. (Maybe I’m boring.) But I LIKE to get bored. And maybe I’m phrasing it wrong — what it really is is “carefree timelessness” when suddenly, you have free time to sit for a moment and think, “What would I like to do right now?” Unfortunately, that all too often results in looking down at your smart phone and thumbing through your Facebook feed. When, really, without that option, you may have built a fort out of diaper boxes or written the next great American novel.
5. Being a teenager
All I have to say is this: I am so thankful, thankful, thankful that Facebook was but a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye when I was a teenager. I can’t even imagine what annoying Facebook statuses would’ve been stained into internet history. And for all of my teenage readers who are posting pictures, videos and statuses of themselves intoxicated, scantily clad, flipping off the camera, cursing and sticking it to the man — all I can say is: hindsight is 20/20 — especially when it’s not only in your memory, but FOREVER ON THE INTERNET. Someday you will be 30 and bearing children and tearing up at Hallmark commercials and you will wish you had not been such a public punk.
6. Toilet time
I wasn’t going to go there. My husband wrote a, well, ahem, classy(?) blog post about it recently. (12 Tips for Pooping with smartphones.) There’s not a lot to say about this subject except: isn’t anything sacred anymore?
In times of fasting from social media (i.e. Lent, vacation, etc.), I’ll often still check email. However, I’m surprised by how many people use Facebook as their primary form of “email.” I suppose I could set my settings somehow where Facebook messages are just sent to my private email — a cozy little place that feels warm and comfy and devoid of a thousand other things fighting for my attention. I’ve decided that email is the Log Cabin of communication and Facebook is Times Square.
Remember when it was really fun to go to your 10-year high school reunion where you probably only really keep up with 2% of the people just to see how everyone had grown (both life wise and girth wise)? Well now, there’s no point. You’ve seen the slow evolution of life over Facebook for 10 years now — and so that big reveal at the reunion is much less exciting. At least you can always enjoy the surprise of Christmas cards from your old high school friends. Oh, wait. Nevermind.
9. Political season
I am not particularly affected by people with differing political beliefs shouting all over my newsfeed. However, I know multiple people who deleted multiple Facebook friends based on the statuses they were writing during political season. Back in the good ole’ days you could just play nice and talk about the kids when you bump into each other at Target without any internal dialogue of, “Oh no, there’s the guy who’s voting for _______.” OK, so I do see purpose in sharing beliefs and trying to contribute to positive change — however, it’s hard to debate via Facebook and unfortunately, many of us don’t always know how to share our opinions effectively. Like this blog post, for instance.
Yesterday I said to Matt: “You know, Facebook is like the soda of community. Lots of empty calories, not a lot of nutrients.” That’s a bit harsh, as I do believe that we can use Facebook as a very meaningful tool for building and enhancing real relationships. But if we’re spending too much time “liking” and “commenting” on photos of people we haven’t seen in years and wouldn’t invite to a dinner party — and NOT nurturing the real relationships that feed our spirits — then it can be a filler that makes us feel “full” in a somewhat deceiving way.
And now that I’ve said all that. Want to connect on Facebook? Make sure you’re a fan on my blog Facebook page where I often engage readers in fascinating discussion such as “I need a good chocolate chip cookie recipe.”